Stanley, a five-year-old Springer, would sometimes forget himself and wee at his favourite potted plant in the living room. Almost immediately, he would run away and hide, as though knowing he had done something wrong. It would only last for minutes though as not before long, he would be strutting up and down the corridor looking very pleased with himself. He seemed to have forgiven himself though he knew it was wrong.
Very occasionally, Sarah would be extremely busy at work and can only manage a short walk with Stanley. Stanley would look almost forlorn when the short walk had ended as he tugged his lead to say, “No, let’s not go home yet. Let’s walk longer!” Sarah feels guilty about it and worries how does this affects her relationship with Stanley. However, without a doubt, Stanley would snuggle with her every chance he gets, as though saying, “Never mind, all is forgiven. I still love you!”
Stanley appears to know how to forgive not only others but himself too. What about you?
To human is to err. That is life. That is humanity. We get hurt at times, whether in love, friendships, with family, in business, and in fact, any relationships in any context. If we felt another has done us wrong, it is natural to feel hurt, pain, and often, anger. You may be thinking, “How can anyone do this to me? It is so unfair. What is he (or she) thinking?” When that happens, are you able to forgive that person? Have you had anyone that has done you so much wrong, cause you so much hurt and pain that you not only have cried for days or weeks on the outside, only to continue crying inside for months and possibly years? It was beyond comprehension the amount of indignance, pain, and anger you feel emotionally and spiritually.
On the other hand, have you ever done anything that has caused an immense amount of pain, sadness, and grief to someone else? Perhaps, it was someone you cared a lot for or maybe it was a stranger. You know your actions have changed that person’s course of life and way of thinking. How do you feel about that? You know you have done wrong. You may have apologized and that person may have forgiven you. The question is have you forgiven yourself? Are you able to? Do you feel the need to hold the guilt as you felt it is the right thing to do and letting it go may make it wrong?
Are you entirely responsible for what happens to others? Vice versa, is your plight or state of living completely out of your control and ‘caused’ to you by someone else? The logical answer to the immediate questions would be a resounding ‘No’.
When you feel hurt or have been wronged by someone else, how do you react? It is common and normal to initially feel pain, grief, and anger. Dig deeper. It could be an opportunity for you to learn and grow. This opportunity would not have presented itself if this event had not happened. It may be painful, let’s not waste it. The pain is greater if you fail to grow from it or worse, harbour it in your mind and heart. Over time, the person that has caused you pain may have moved on and the only reason why you continue to feel the pain is that you chose to, not because the other person made you to. Perhaps it was a lesson that you needed (not necessarily deserved) to grow and become bigger than you were. Ultimately, the lesson would lead you to learn to forgive that person and also be grateful for the lesson he or she provided. It did not matter whether they were conscious of the lesson they provided. Everyone sees a different meaning to experiences anyway. The important thing is that you saw the lesson and grew from it. For that, gratitude is only natural.
Maybe you are someone who readily forgives others but not yourself? Does that make it nobler? Have you considered that if you are not able to forgive yourself, all the forgiveness you have extended to others may be seen as hypocritical? How can you say you know how to forgive if you do not know to forgive yourself? You may have shown forgiveness but do you truly know the meaning if you are not able to apply it to yourself? If you have done something distinctively bad and have hurt others in the course of events, certainly, it is not good. You have to pay the price, whatever it may be. However, you also need to realise that you are only human, and making mistakes and bad decisions are part of it. Learn from it. Part of that learning includes self-forgiveness. You are not your actions, nor your past, nor your thoughts. You are more. Improve yourself. Become bigger and better. Not forgiving yourself is a form of self-hate. Learn to love instead. Be grateful for your being and your sovereign soul that knows better. Learn to let it go.
“To forgive is divine.” Let’s explore this phrase further. It refers to how God forgives the sins of men as long as they repent. Find the god-like part in you. You were made in the image of God. There is a part in you somewhere that will grow if you allow it to. Remember that hurt people hurt people. If you hold that guilt in you, not only will it eat you inside, it will manifest itself in your interactions with others and affect any relationships you may have in the future, be it personal, social, or business.
Understand that forgiveness of others and self is extremely necessary. The natural progression after forgiveness is gratitude. Be grateful that you are growing. By forgiving others and yourself, you are also allowing others to grow around you. Above all, you will also find tranquillity in your soul, an extremely rare commodity that is scarce these days.
Here’s a little exercise for you to do.
- Think of three people who have hurt you in the past and you have negative feelings for them (like resentment, anger, or indifference). Either call or write them a letter saying that you have forgiven them and are grateful for their interaction in your life. You may say, “Hi XXX, I just wanted to say that I forgive you and I am grateful for you in my life. Thank you” and just hang up the phone or end the letter. Imagine what it would do to them and what it could do for you. You do not have to rekindle any relationship with them just merely notifying them of your gratitude.
- Think of the guilt you carry in you and write it down on a piece of paper. Say this to yourself, “I am only human and I make mistakes. I learn and grow from them. I am not my mistakes. I forgive myself. I would like to be free.” This needs to be said with great intent. Then burn that piece of paper. After that, say, “I am grateful for my growth. I am grateful for my soul. I love you, (your name). Thank you” This ritual may sound dramatic but what have you got to lose?
Remember when you improve to learn how to forgive others and yourself, you become an example for others around you to follow. Imagine the good you would do to your world and your associations. Imagine your children(if you have any) learning this important skill from you. Imagine what their lives would be like. Know that people do not do what you say but they do what you do. Stand into your own greatness and make others great as well. You can almost say it is your moral obligation to become the best you can be so the world can be elevated.
Stanley has forgiven himself and Sarah. Who do you need to forgive?
‘To know all is to forgive all’ – Voltaire