“Forgive the person you hate the most. This is your intention for our class together tonight.”
Wait, what? Why would I want to begin a yoga class with this intention? Did I really need to be reminiscing about a time in my life that I really wanted to forget?
After hearing these words, I selfishly began to question my yoga instructor and her motives behind making me do such a seemingly tortuous task. My ego was not comfortable with this. This was my time! This was a place to be blissful and connected to my inner peace.
I sat, confused, and I took a deep breath. Several deep breaths. Hate seemed like such a powerful and intense word, but I focused within. For the first several minutes of class, my mind was a projection screen of unpleasant memories, emotions and feelings.
As I moved through upward and then downward dog positions, I continued to hear her words, “Inhale love. Exhale hate. Again, forgive the person you hate the most.”
I noticed that I started to sweat nervously. “Is this really possible to do in just an hour and a half?” I thought to myself.
It took every ounce of my being to search deep into my memory bank for all of my greatest teachers and what they taught me about forgiveness.
Again I heard her words, “Forgive the person you hate the most.”
OK… OK, I got it.
In that moment, I surrendered and my ego crumbled. Everything I learned since childhood came pouring through me. I had no more excuses about why not to forgive this person. Instead, I embraced several reasons to do just that. I focused passionately on those reasons as I stretched my body and mind simultaneously…
So what were the reasons? Let’s discuss…
1. Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our own happiness.
Most of what we attract into our lives is a mere reflection of what is inside of us. Our thoughts and actions create our exterior world. The Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like, and we will never experience a happy ending at the end of an unhappy journey. By holding onto anger and resentment (even in our subconscious mind), we are pre-paving our journey to be filled with anger and resentment. The way we feel and the emotions we hold are what we use to create all of our future experiences. (Read The Secret.)
2. Forgiveness allows us to see everyone in our lives as a teacher.
Family members, spouses, friends, bosses, etc. – everyone is brought into our lives to teach us more about ourselves. Thanking them for being a part of our journey and teaching us lessons that we now no longer need to learn is an incredible step in expanding our consciousness.
This same philosophy applies to our negative, failed relationships too. Once you truly learn the lesson behind why a negative relationship came into your life, you will then no longer attract situations and future relationships that attempt to teach you the same lesson. You get to graduate and grow so you no longer keep repeating the same unpleasant experience over and over again.
3. Forgiveness helps us stop playing the victim card.
Adjusting your perspective to a place of forgiveness and gratitude allows you to no longer play the victim card. Most of the time you are not a victim of anything other than your own vibration and level of attraction. When you continue to blame someone else, you automatically give control of your life to someone else and thus set yourself up to be a lifelong victim.
4. Forgiveness makes us aware that most people are doing the best they can.
Have compassion for where other people are in their lives. It might not be where you are, but most people are doing the best they can at their particular level of awareness and understanding. (Read The Four Agreements.)
5. Forgiveness embodies the concept of “what goes around comes around.”
We are all human and we have all done “unthinkable” things. And deep down, we all yearn for the same forgiveness. When we release others from the penalties of their actions, we create a space where our own thoughtless actions against others can be forgiven as well.
6. Forgiveness forces our own level of consciousness to expand.
The process of growth is continuous. The moment we stop learning, searching for lessons and expanding our consciousness, the ego steps in and takes over. We are always moving toward something greater, and forgiveness helps us get there faster by eliminating our ties to dead weight from our past.
7. Forgiveness teaches us to keep our expectations tempered.
We should never be expecting anything from anyone. When we do this, we give up our own power to decide. We alone are the creator of our universe, and when we are connected to our own inner source, we no longer “need” anything from anyone. It’s still nice to receive things from time to time, but we don’t need these things to move forward with our lives. (Read Forgiveness Is a Choice.)
8. Forgiveness teaches us to tone down our instincts for self-preservation.
Too often we injure one another simply because we are trying to protect ourselves (financially, emotionally, etc.), even when it’s at someone else’s expense. We have all done it. Becoming aware of this pattern allows us to stop needlessly injuring others for our own benefit. And as you know, what goes around comes around…
9. Forgiveness creates a space to let go and love.
Not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever. Sometimes they are only there long enough to help us open the next chapter of our story. Letting go creates space to let new people and experiences in.
In addition, we are all connected. We have never met another person that we have not loved in some small way. Sometimes we just don’t consciously know how to understand it and show it. Simply put, forgiveness in and of itself is an act of letting go of our differences and connecting with our oneness and love for each other and the world we inhabit.
10. Forgiveness is the best revenge.
A bit of sarcasm in this one, but it’s so true. You can always seek revenge positively by creating a better future for yourself. Because nothing annoys an adversary or negative force in your life more than seeing you smile after you have genuinely forgiven them and moved forward with your life.
In most walks of life, I think it’s fairly easy to say, “I forgive so-and-so.” Deep down, though, the resentment and anger still lingers within us and in our subconscious minds, which then impacts our future experiences.
For me, it took an hour and a half of complete and committed intention, stretching into odd shapes, chanting mantras, and inhaling incense for me to fully embrace all of the lessons I had learned throughout my life, and to finally forgive.
As we walked out of this yoga class, my friend and I looked at each other and, at the same time, said, “Wow!” I could now understand exactly where my yoga instructor was coming from and why she had pushed us breath-by-breath to forgive. I was extremely grateful. Typically when I leave yoga, I feel lighter, but this time…
I felt free.
Who would you like to forgive? Who would you regret not forgiving before you die? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Quantumlars
The first I would like to forgive is myself. I have been to hard on myself lately and did damaging things.
Sarah Anne says
Paula – That is a great great point!! It’s really important to forgive ourselves first. For me it was understanding that something inside of me needed to learn this “lesson,” and have compassion for the fact that I brought it onto myself. Then releasing it…and forgiving the other person. A step in the forgiveness process we often forget.
I always had problems forgiving until I finally learned to put myself in their shoes. I never took into account what their insecurities are or that they just didn’t know any differently because that is the way they had been treated throughout their lifetime. That made it more clear that the person may not have actually meant any harm at all….they just didn’t know any better. How much lighter MY burden has been since I have learned to do this. I can’t say I’m perfect at it, and I do still sometimes get angry, frustrated and have my feelings hurt, but it doesn’t happen as much as before and I feel like I’m much better off for it.
Lois, you told it like it is. I have learned the same lesson after spending years allowing myself to be a victim. I have always had naive expectations about my relationship with my family. During the illness of my mother, I found my sister had different goals and different ways of achieving them. I was the only one who suffered. I have finally forgiven myself and forgiven my sister. Thankfully, I have also been able to distance myself from her. T
@Lois: You described the “victim” situation in a nutshell. I allowed myself to become a victim during my mother’s final illness, over the course of several years. A controlling member of my family demonstrated during this time that she had totally different goals and methods of achieving them than I. I have forgiven myself and the family member. I have also distanced myself from her. This works for me.
@Mo, You’re absolutely right, hate can easily be as strong as love. Giving so much of your energy/emotions/attention to someone you don’t even like really doesn’t make sense when you stop and think about it.
Being able to let that hate go is indeed the best release. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
Opposite of Love is Selfishness. In Love we give ourselves to all, whereas selfishness is only to serve ourselves.
I have to forgive my ex fiancé who recently ended our engagement via email. I have not been able to get in touch with him, he diminished all ties as if we never were. In a instant my whole life is shattered and the hardest part is the cold and apprehensive acts hes taken to not face me. I don’t have answers that I believe at the very least should’ve been awarded to me, but I am seeking help through this and with that process coming to terms with my relationships with family members. I have to forgive my mother so that I may move past a lot of lingering resentment. I have to forgive but it really is so difficult.
While forgiveness and reconciliation are two distinct things, they are interrelated. When people say “I forgave them, but I want nothing to do with them now,” I question the authenticity of their forgiveness. If the offending party has repented and changed their ways, and if you saw fit to be involved in their life before, then why would reconciliation not be the natural outgrowth of genuine forgiveness? Now, if the offender was not sorry, and if you had reason to believe they would repeat the action, then certainly you should take whatever steps are needed to protect yourself from being hurt again. In that case, reconciliation would not logically follow forgiveness. But if they have genuinely seen the error of their ways and tried to make amends, yet you still refuse their attempts to mend the relationship, you’re really just giving lip-service to forgiveness. Forgiveness + Repentance = Reconciliation.
Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families says
This is great information. Forgiveness allows you to do your part and let go of the past hurts. I know that when I did this, it was very freeing and it felt great to let go of my past burdens. Thank you for sharing.
Love this post.
Wanted to share my story of “stumbling on forgiveness” and how it changed my life:
Been working on letting go, forgiving, growing and moving on for a few years from my former wife. This helps, thank you. It is still a process, as our children grow and we navigate through this apart, but together. Trying to keep perspective.
I wish it were easier to forgive. Maybe I am wrong, or just stubborn, probably both. But for me, forgiveness is a two-way street. To completely forgive someone, the other party should feel some remorse in their actions. Doesn’t forgiveness need to be earned? I’d like to think that there is an alternative. You get closure when you “accept” what has happened to you instead. This allows you to move on and live your life, but not have to give a hall pass to everyone that has betrayed you or intentionally tried to harmed you.
In my past, I’ve noticed that I have a tenancy to hold grudges against the people that have hurt me. They only hurt me because I let them.
I’d regret not forgiving my high school best friend, my other high school best friend, my ex, an old affair, and my father. The incidents with these people have helped me become a better person. I need to forgive them and thank them for making me better.
Thank you for this. Your blogs have helped me through many times. There is one person who I need to forgive, but I’m having a hard time. He is an ex and it has been over a year and a half. He did me so wrong and I can honestly say that I hate him. I don’t like that feeling because I’m not a hateful person. I’m working on it, though…
I wish I could forgive my Mother. She has been unspeakably horrible to me at times. So as not to poison my own soul, I have forgiven her many times but she just keeps on doing the same things over and over and over. I try each day to forgive, but I’ve found that I need to keep distance between us for my own protection. Sad way to be, but sometimes folks just won’t allow you to be any other way. I am grateful for the lessons she taught me, as bad as they were, like perseverance, etc. Sadly, I don’t think she’s learned anything nor has any remorse and that makes it all the harder. Anybody have any suggestions or advice for me? I’ve just learned that sometimes we need to love people from a distance.
Forgiveness…It’s very much something I am dealing with right now in my life with many people (and myself). This is never an easy road as I have tried to walk it many times before…I do believe forgiveness will help me on many levels in my life if I apply it properly. I have started with the least likely person in my life, and its not easy but its working so far. Thank you for the inspiration.
Forgiveness, a great lesson to learn. I began my journey, thank you!
Gratitude is the cure for almost anything. It softens the hardest and most fierce of emotions. I have spent significant time fighting back against bitterness towards someone that I once loved. The one thing that always helps me clear my mind of resentment is gratitude. I am grateful for the lessons learned which have helped me make better decisions. I am thankful for the love that was once there and the lessons which followed.
The truth is that had everything worked out just how I wanted, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I learned to love myself through this journey so my gratitude is immense.
Sometimes it is so hard. My son was abused at the age of 10. I have the hardest time forgiving. My son ended up using drugs to try to forget and then got used and abused in human trafficking. He is still dealing with addiction and it took many years to finally admit what happened. The affects this man had on my son are still ongoing for my son and our entire family. If I live in the hate and heartbreak, it consumes me. I want to be able to move on and accept that this happened. I can’t change it. My son won’t tell who did it at this time and so this person is free to live how they choose and hurt others. The only way I can cope is to not think about it. Ignore it. Somehow, I think that is not the best way, but it’s the only way I can cope. I don’t want to live in hate. It’s so destructive. If you do not have to forgive something like this …. Count your blessings!
I needed to be reminded of this again today, thank you. I know how much better it is to feel forgiveness … but I am finding it very hard to sustain for a long period of time after being incredibly hurt and betrayed.
I needed also to be reminded of this… I had moment when I really felt I forgave him and his family, and I have moment now when I still feel this resentment and cannot forgive after all they have done, or haven’t done actually… The betray and the Daniel has been so deep that unconsciously I am expecting an apology, or some gratitude, or maybe just an acknowledge that they have hurt me tremendously…I chant with all my heart or maybe not… What I know is I have to find a way to peacefully deal with this situation because he is the father of our child…oh well I accept what I feel and do not pretend that I do not. It might be the beginning of the process… Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo… Thank you for those precious words…
One more reason to forgive:
The person you hate may not be guilty of what you believe. We live in a world full of poor communication, innocent bad impressions, coincidence, assisted-coincidence, careless gossip, and sometimes even smear tactics. Innocent people sometimes go to prison just for appearing to be guilty. A fair amount of the hate in the world is similarly misplaced.
It’s easy to sit and ponder on all the wrongs that were done to us but we’re not perfect either and we sometimes expect that we ought to be automatically forgiven when we’re in the wrong.
Decided to forgive my ex-husband, via text today, for ruining our marriage 8 yrs ago (he’s been asking for my forgiveness since).
Why should I still live in the past when he is happily moving on with now wife of 3+ years and baby. I need to LIVE and enjoy life too with my husband of 2+ years. We may even confirm in 10 days that we’re expecting our 1st bundle! Way to go!
Thanks for your tips. I hated my father for the last 6 months. I still hate him. He is the kind of person with cold heart. He never showed me love, speaks to me rarely: he runs from his responsibilities as a father. Day after day, my hatred grew. And so did my pain. I cut. I had a difficult childhood and envied my friends. I still feel anger towards males. But somehow, today, I am tired of carrying this hate. It consumes me. That’s why I need to forgive him. And I need time too. I will follow your advice…
I love this article. I need to forgive a person which once was my best best friend, and he hurt me bad but I need to learn to forgive and move forward.
I’ve never had someone hate me so much before. I never imagined that someone so unexpected- like one of my closest childhood friends- hate me then and now. He would never admit to anything behind that smiles he sent me, and the messages he wrote. Quite frankly I do not know what I did wrong. What is hurting me is that –he still keeps it a secret? I mean, won’t you please just stop pretending and say it to my face? I’m torn by your actions and gestures. You were such a good friend, someone who I humbly liked and well-thought about all these years… Please give me a chance even the slightest. I want to know and undestand you then and now… I also want you to know who I am- it’s not like what you think, I promise. Please don’t say you’re “dead”, or even pretend to say anything alike. I truly care for you, and want to extinguish all the fires of anger and pain left in your heart… I want to take it all away… if you’d just give me a chance to explain… and if you’d just tell me what I did wrong…
Several of the comments have already mentioned forgiving ourselves first. All offenses involve my vulnerability on some level. Sometimes I’m an innocent victim, and other times I am partly to blame because of my own poor choices. Either way when I’m offended or hurt it causes me to question my own behavior, wisdom and self-respect. I have to deal with myself and my actions and reactions first before I can be objective about anyone else. Even when we are innocent, there is always – ALWAYS – something to learn and carry forward to help us deal with the next situation. And there will be a next situation.
Have I completely forgiven everyone? No. There are a couple of people I have to deal with on a regular basis who have violated my boundaries in the past and continue to test them. I do not have the option right now of completely distancing myself. It’s hard to maintain those necessary boundaries without some hatred and resentment. I am working on it, and being able to write here will help.
Its hard to forgive your own child who has ripped your heart out. I am working to forgive and let go of the anger and regret i have towards her. And forgiving myself for…..hating her for her abuse. She has made a lot of enemies. Say a prayer for me (and her) please.
Like many have said, I came across this at the right time in my life. I think the thought of ‘forgiving’ someone or a person who has hurt you is difficult to grasp because it is almost as though you feel they do not deserve it. Recently I started to feel really down about these people within my life who seem to make it their mission to talk about me in a very negative way, I began to internalise it and question whether they were right…of course deep down I know that people see things in different ways and it wasn’t necessarily my fault for the way they saw a past situation but I couldn’t help but let it hurt me, make me angry because I feel it is unjust, I have never done anything that bad to warrant this negativity aimed towards me. Reading this today has helped me understand that letting go will benefit myself and my life in the long term, I agree with many posts, it is easier said that done but unless I sit and talk to these people face to face, lay it all down on the table and resolve these issues, I am never going to get the chance to defend myself (which is never going to happen because there is too much water under the bridge), so instead I am going to have to face that these people will continue to fill themselves up with hate for me but I shall not waste anymore time filling my self up with hate for them and playing the victim. I want to lead a full and happy life and would like to rid myself of any negativity. I am too tired of carrying this hate. It makes it harder because one of the people will be studying near me this year and I will have to come into contact with them but all I need is to take a deep breath and smile for the sake of myself. Thank you for this post, I shall refer to this in the future. x
I have been struggling with forgiveness with my two steps sons for over six years. They have hurt me so may times and I just can’t go back for another round of their distrust, verbal abuse, stealing and destruction of my marriage. I know I am still in relationship with them because I have not forgiven them so they still have power over me. I have prayed and not found the answers. I know I am the prisoioner and I know it’s not being a good follower of Christ, but I just can’t forgive them…it replays it my mind over and over again. I appreciate these suggestion and will try to apply them, but I feel like I give them more power and then they think it’s ok and the cycle begins all over!! I pray the Holy Spirit fill me with the grace to do this!!
I pray that things get better for u, as I am in the same boat. Giving someone else the power over you is a horrible feeling, that you want to let go. Hopefully things are a little better for you by now.
Billy A. says
This article is something I needed to read. I am so sad and hurt by someone who did me wrong(at least in my mind) I gave then my heart and tried so hard to make her happy and in the end I got screwed over and left feeling that I’m not good enough! I have disconnected from her thinking it would help…If I hate her the pain will go away. Instead it grows, my pain and hatred! What do I do? I want happiness, love and to forgive! However the painful memories have me stuck with little hope in sight! I need to move on and forgive or else I feel that happiness and love will not come my way again! Any kind words or tips would be greatly appreciated!
After my husband of 34 years walked out of our marriage a year ago, life has been lonesome, challenging, and a learning and growing experience. After reading the book called “Runaway Husbands”, by Dr. Vicki Stark, her recommendation to the trauma that happened to me was to “live well” as the best revenge, find my own happiness without him, love myself again, enjoy taking care of me, not him, go out when and where I want to, leave the toilet seat down, eat, sleep and even meet new people, including the opposite sex eventually.
It is hard to forgive someone who has hurt you so deeply, not caring or loving you anymore, or concerned about your welfare, mostly since I had spend most of my adult life with this person, supported his careers, bore his children, and gave my heart and soul to, without question.
But, one of these days, in the future, I will thank my husband of 34 years for leaving me, and giving me back my life:-)
I hated my boss. I had a great career but this women (my ex boss) was insecure and Competitive. I put in my heart, soul, passion and time away from my family into my work. I never treated by job as a “job” and offered everything I had to offer. I loved going to work but this women played a power game on me. Things changed in a day for wrong reasons. I had no choice but to leave my job. I have had difficult time adjusting in my new job because my trust and passion was lost. I hated by boss every moment in a day. I am responsible to provide living to my children and I had no choice but to keep going but I felt heavy and tired. Slowly I am learning that I need to move on. It takes a lot to forgive someone who changed your life that too for her own ego and insecurities. I know God has something better planned for…… I can’t see it yet but I will one day very soon. God bless you my last boss so you won’t spoil someone else life. God please give me peace and courage to forgive her.
After reading this, I feel a lot better! I’m 18 and I need to forgive a friend . She wouldn’t t talk to me and just ignored me and forgot about me like we weren’t anything just like I hadn’t meet her. I tried to get together wither her and talk but she seemed as if no effort would get put in on her side as if she didn’t care so I stopped trying and every time I see something she posts on Instagram makes me mad and sad and I really don’t want to feel this way so I’m done being my mad. So I I’m trying everyday I’m praying and forgiving her and it’s hard but I just really want to forgive and move on
I need to forgive my sister…she has been so negative to me ever since we were young. Never did anything bad to her, not sure why she is like this with me. She talked really bad about me, even to people she hardly even knew, when I split with my ex husband, always saying I was no good for him. She never bothered to come to me to find out what really happened.Well…I least my folks know the truth they saw it with their own eyes. She would even get mad at my folks because they would come and visit me (I live out of state). She tells our parents why do they even come and visit me, that they need to go some where else for vacation- My parents visit just one week out of the year (if I’m lucky) and she has them the rest of the year. She complained to my folks that they don’t do anything with her and that they are always visiting and doing stuff with me. I just don’t get it. 🙁 I really don’t understand why she is like this with me. I know if I try to talk to her she will not reason with me….maybe someday I’ll try. I just need to forgive her, so I can get this angry frustrated feeling out of me.
I am having the most difficult time ever with forgiving my child’s father. Where do I begin…..almost 10 years ago I met who I thought was my soulmate, my husband, my lover, my everything. Blinded at 17, I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. To make a long story short, we had a child 2 years later and now she is 7. We are no longer together, and I all I wish is for him to be a “father” to my child. Thats all…. sounds easy to me. Maybe bc I was raised with both parents, and my dad is the best father in my eyes. My child father continues to lie to my child, make promises that he cannot keep, and it hurts me to see her hurting. Most of this comes from us breaking up and me choosing to move on, and for some reason he cannot except it. I just dont understand why my child must suffer. Through the breakups, I’ve been called numerous names and cursed out in front of my child, my car has been vandalized, and my boyfriends have been chased away. I’ve relocated with the intentions to no longer deal with him but at the end of the day, my child loves him and I dont want to keep her away from her dad. I am not going to sit here and play the victim, bc that wouldnt be right. But I will say that this person is the only person that can get me to a level like no other. I have so much hatred in my heart for him and I am honestly ready to let it go and move forward with my life, bc this is causing unnecessary stress and hurt to my heart. I have learned that you cannot control the actions of others, and I am trying to work on praying everyday for him. Hopefully he will become a better dad, but until tjhen….I have to forgive and move on! Help me please, release this anger!!
First I hope you are doing much better second our situation is so similar it’s scary, what I have learned so far is to stay with positive people, be thankful for what you have and I read this blog all the time and any others on happiness since depression runs in my family. Iam working on forgiving my ex but this is the hardest thing I ever had to do since he hurt me to the core. Just remember you are not alone and I remembered how good those few words made me feel to know that I was not alone. If it’s not better you might have to keep her away from him which is for her best interest which when she grows up she will thank you for. It only took my daughter till she was fifteen to see that her father was toxic. Good luck and God Bless you two.One more thing he needs to stop the abusive behavior for you not to be a victim and if it’s still going on get a PFA protection from abuse, mental also applies