Each and every regret, grudge, and negative feeling we hold in our hearts, is a link in the chains that hold us down and keep us from becoming our ultimate selves. We now know and have acknowledged many of the negative areas of our lives that have held us back. Now we are going to develop the final one two punch that will allow you to eliminate the power those forces once had over you. That power is the power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is defined as the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence; let's go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Now let's dissect that definition. It uses the words intentional and voluntary, which says to me that in order to truly receive the benefits of forgiveness; it can't be just words alone. You need to know exactly the who, what, when, why, and how of each incident. You should not only be showing forgiveness because someone is asking it from you. You should be practicing forgiveness because you want to free yourself from the debilitating effects of living a life without it. The next part of the definition says "let go of negative emotions". Sometimes we've lived with our negative feelings and ways for so long that it feels as though they have become a permanent part of who we are. It is up to you to determine the parts of your life that could use a change. It is common sense that anything in your life that causes harm to your mind, body, or spirit, is negative and needs to be expelled from it. Holding negative feelings in your heart is a lot like holding a bunch of unnecessary weights. If you walked up to someone who was carrying weights that they didn't want to, what would you tell them to do. Let go. We need to let go of all of our unnecessary baggage and live like the free beings we were meant to be. Finally we need to wish the offender well. This is often the most difficult part to implement seeing as a majority of us have a tendency to focus on the negative. What benefits come to you from holding grudges? You guessed right, absolutely none. They lead to feelings of anger and sadness that only increase your misery and fuel your fear and doubt. You must make the DECISION to eliminate these feelings from your life for good. Let's start now.
You can do this by once again addressing the three questions. This time you will see how applying forgiveness can not only eliminate these negative areas, but also give you the strength to make yourself better and give you the inspiration to seek different ways to improve your life.
QUESTION #1 If I was the perfect version of myself, what actions or behaviors would I be doing now that I am presently not doing?
In the previous discussion we talked about acknowledging the feelings you felt about the fact that you haven't taken action sooner to begin improving your life. You must understand that no one in this world was born perfect. You were put on this earth to discover its beauty and eventually (if you have the insight) to achieve greatness. Many people won't even take the time to answer such a question, so the fact that you did is worth acknowledging. Unfortunately recognizing is not enough. You must make the decision to take immediate action to begin to put these actions and behaviors into practice. Every day there is a chance to start over. Don't get lost in the trap of living in the past. Focus on the accomplishments you can make today. We were all destined for greatness and by accepting that as a human it is okay to be imperfect, you will find inner peace.
If I wanted to become the perfect version of myself, what actions and behaviors would I need to eliminate from my life?
There is definitely one thing that every single person on the face of this great planet of ours has in common and that is that we have all made mistakes. Our lives are a giant tapestry of mistakes. Some we've allowed to alter our lives for the better and some for worse. We have already identified the negative actions and behaviors we are trying to eliminate from our lives. In order to do so we must come to the understanding that we are imperfect beings and we all make mistakes but we are certainly capable of overcoming them. You must understand that you are completely in control of your life. You have the POWER to change absolutely every facet of your life. By truly understanding that power you can eliminate every single action and behavior on your list. You must also make sure that you know in your heart that you want what is best for yourself. Now that may sound silly to you. You may say to yourself "of course I want what's best for me". Even though we say that, our actions are sometimes contradictory. We need to make sure that when we make that statement, that it is not only a collection of words but a firm belief that is immediately followed by actions that live up to those words. Make sure that you are being your own ally and not an enemy taking you further and further away from achieving your goals and attaining wellness.
What negative experiences have occurred in your life that still hold negativity in your heart?
It is a very sad fact that nearly everyone in this world at one point in time or another has either experienced or caused pain to another individual. As we have been discussing, no one in this world is perfect. We are all trying to make sense of the circumstances of our lives. When we experience pain caused by someone else, our minds are quick to find justification for it. Most of the time in my experience there is always some form of misunderstanding or justification for those people's actions. In order to truly find peace after experiencing such an incident you must implement the key to forgiveness and that is empathy. When we step outside of our own shoes and away from our sometimes narrow minded perspective we will find that there is truly no need to harbor ill feelings. When it comes to someone who has hurt you, make sure that you are taking into account everything about that person and the situation as a whole. Perhaps they had a bad childhood, or grew up in an environment that glorified violence, or was somehow offended by something you said or did that you may not have been aware of. There are countless possible justifications people may have for their actions. Seeing their actions from a pessimistic perspective will only lead you down an equally negative path which will result in either negative feelings or actions. Negativity begets negativity therefore you must apply positivity and completely eliminate pride from the picture. Pride especially in males has a tendency to cause us to act irrationally. Choose the alternate path and try your best to instead look at the individual with remorse. A person who feels that they must create violence or bring negativity into someone else's life is obviously dealing with their own demons inside and feels they have no choice but to mirror those feelings and project them outward on others. As the late Dr. Wayne Dyer use to say "when you squeeze an orange nothing but orange juice will come out because that is what is on the inside, if someone squeezes you (puts pressure on you) if you get angry it is because you have anger on the inside". You will find inner peace by displaying empathy for those who have caused you harm. If they are not addressing these problems and behavioral issues there subconscious mind is still holding them accountable. That is until they learn the importance of forgiveness, perhaps from you. Now when it comes to harm that you have done to others, it is very similar to the previous example. You must learn to forgive yourself by figuring our why it was that you felt that you needed to perform that action. Perhaps it had been done to you before, or you were having a bad day, or maybe a mind altering substance was to blame. This should not be an excuse to justify doing negative actions to people. The purpose of this is for you to obtain inner peace and deal with the core issues within yourself that caused you to hurt someone else. Human beings by nature are not bad people. A majority of them are victims of circumstances. If you can display the patience and conviction needed to look deep within yourself, find what it is that is making you harbor these negative feelings, and work diligently and daily to overcome it. You will be one step closer to obtaining an inner peace and wellness that will allow you to accomplish anything this world and your imagination have to offer.
Ensure that you take all the steps of stage one and apply them to each negative area of your life. There is limited time in this world and it should not be spent harboring negative feelings or conducting negative actions. As Gandhi once said "be the change you wish to see in this world". Make sure that your actions and behaviors are in conjunction with the morals that you hold deep within your heart. You are deserving of happiness and wellness and I hope that these three steps will help along your path to obtaining them.