How often do you feel that, or say it to yourself? We all make mistakes. So how can we quickly move beyond the feelings of blame, shame, guilt, anger, pain and resentment when we, or our friends, family and loved ones, make mistakes?
When something goes “wrong” we tend to place blame. Often we blame everything; the circumstances, the other person(s) involved, and even when we blame others we also blame ourselves. We think “If I had only been (smarter, faster, better) this wouldn’t have happened to me. Although it is a difficult thing to do, there is a healing power in forgiveness.
How Forgiveness Healed Me
Years ago I fell deeply in love with someone who broke my heart. After our breakup I discovered I had contracted a (luckily curable) STD. The problem was, the antibiotics weren’t working, and the irritation and pain from this illness kept getting worse. It got so bad, the doctor had to send samples to the CDC for testing to discover what would cure me! This illness dragged on for close to six months. Halfway through taking the medication prescribed from the CDC I was in so much pain I was crying every time I had to urinate.
Sitting on the toilet, I finally recognized that I had to let go. All this time, I had been holding onto the hurt I felt, holding onto my anger towards this man, and holding onto my own shame and guilt for the mistake I made in loving someone who (I thought) rejected me so hurtfully. I was also holding onto shame at failing myself and getting ill. In that moment I finally forgave him and myself. And I felt the illness depart from my body. The next day I went in for tests, and my belief was confirmed. I was finally free of the infection!
Learning How to Forgive
The first step on the path to forgiveness is to recognize that we all do the best we are capable of, given our map or model of the world and what we think our options are. If we want to do better, we must learn that we have more options available. But shame, blame, guilt and anger are not the best options!
- Forgive ourselves. We can only give to others what we are able to give to ourselves. Say to yourself, out loud: “I know I have been doing the best I can. I forgive myself and promise to keep doing my best.”
- Forgive the circumstances. Even if they seemed horrible at the time, every aspect of our lives is there to benefit us; to make us stronger, wiser, more perfect versions of ourselves in every way. As long as we are holding onto resentment, we are missing out on these blessings.
- Forgive others. As Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like holding a hot coal and hoping the other person gets burned.” Let go so you may be well.
Today I’m in love again. I love life and everything about it! Letting go of my hurt, shame and anger was the best thing I could do for myself. I hope you will choose to do the same for yourself, and embrace love and life with passion!