“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” – Robert Muller
To forgive and forget is an old idea. It is one of those ideas that is so well known, and so much in the vernacular of our language that sometimes we forget what it actually means and how difficult the true execution of this idea can be. Truly recognising and implementing what it is to forgive and forget is a real exercise in reflection, strength and mindful living. It strengthens your emotional intelligence your relationships with others and your own general wellbeing. Here is how to start thinking about how to be forgiving in a modern world…
1. Be Calm, Be Pragmatic
Anger often gets in the way of forgiveness. The rage or hurt we experience can easily get in the way of a more measured view of a situation. Of course, you are entitled to feel how you feel, indeed, it is important to have these emotions. But, when the majority of the flames have died down, take time to really think about the situation and try to see it from all angles. Your old friend ‘meditation’ is also a good friend in this exercise.
2. Debate with Yourself
In order to see situation from all angles you must debate with yourself. We all want to feel that we are in the right, but we must also consider our own part in any given circumstance. Grievances are rarely black and white, they are complex; your being apparently right does not necessarily mean that the other party is wrong, their view may simply be opposing. Grudges are toxic for the self, and trying to see a situation from all sides helps to alleviate this toxicity.
3. To Forgive is Not to Be Weak
There is a preconception amongst some that to forgive someone, to hold on to your grudge because you feel that you are right or have been wronged, is weak. This is understandable, especially if the person with which your grievance is associated is unable to apologise or concede to your way of thinking. In fact, to forgive is extremely brave, and a lack of ability to forgive is often a way to keep an issue at a distance. Not to forgive is to shut yourself off from reconnecting with another person, which can seem daunting and difficult.
4. Accept Your Part in The Story
You might, on reflection, have behaved not as well as you might have thought you did in the moment. Be honest with yourself, and consider whether you have a part to play in the conflict. It is OK to be wrong and to make mistakes, it is what you do in the face of your own mistakes that define you. We all react instinctively in the moment, its what we when we have time to consider a response that speaks more honestly of who we really are.
5. Accept That You Cannot Always Get Your Way
What is more important, to be right or to be reconciled? Sometimes holding on to your need to be in the right does more damage than it is really worth. You can’t always get your way, and you can’t always get validation for your arguments. Accepting this and learning to let go and move on is a great way to make your life much less grudge and grievance heavy.
6. Forgetting is Not About Removing A Memory
The ‘forget’ part of this process is hard. To forget is usually to eliminate a memory, remove all trace of a person or situation from your mind. In this instance, forgiveness has a slightly different function. To forget entirely is to eliminate any lesson you might have learnt on the way. To forget entirely is also to set yourself up to make the same mistake again. In this instance, to forget is to put aside the memory and associated negativity and to relate to that person in spite of your history. Put it in the filing cabinet of your mind; it is still there, but you seldom bother to go through the archives!
Most circumstances can be improved by the practice of gratitude. In the face of conflict with another, this gratitude should not only be focused on the wonderful things in your own life, but on the good and great things the other person has done for you. This focus and positive energy towards the other person is a great way to start to heal emotional wounds between both parties.
By Chris Thomson
Kindness and goodwill are always useful when trying to repair relationships and bring joy to both you and others: Mindful Living: Goodwill to All
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