WHY FORGIVENESS MAKES US HAPPY

WHYFORG1

After all the years that I have worked in personal development, searching for practices and strategies that work to increase wellbeing and happiness, I still value one practice above all others. For me, forgiveness is the most vibrant and life-changing procedure, it never fails to lift the spirits and lighten our lives and touch our hearts with love; it moves negative energy faster than any technique I know and it brings with it the wonderful gifts of peace, calm, balance and compassion.

People often react strongly to the concept of forgiveness, feeling that they have a right to hold on to their anger towards another who has treated them badly. And of course we are angry when we feel victimised. But if we continually hold on to that initial anger we can never be at our brightest and happiest. The quality of our thoughts creates the quality of our lives and if we hang on to past hurts and slights our anger only grows and hurts us even more. So think of forgiveness as a means of letting go of negative energy and opening yourself up to a happier future.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, ‘To forgive is not just to be altruistic, it is the best form of self-interest.’ I often hear clients talk over and over again about people who have hurt and upset them; they sometimes spend more time thinking about these people than they do about those who care for them and support them. If we cannot forgive (let go) of those who have upset us then we carry forever the memory of them and the pain that they inflicted upon us. This is a heavy negative load to bear but it is possible to release this burden however badly we have been treated.

Forgiveness of others calls for a radical rethink of your past hurts; it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about how others behaved towards you. In fact it means exactly the opposite: you care enough to reconsider whatever happened in order to be able to finally let it rest. Are you holding angry thoughts about someone? If so, would you like to find a creative way to let them go?

The Four Steps to Forgiveness

Step 1 State the facts. View whatever happened as objectively as possible. At first you might have to pretend that it happened to someone else in order to get a true perspective. Write down the facts in your journal. Stick to the reality and don’t embroider it with your emotions. So, for example you might have written, my mother was an alcoholic when I was growing up.

Step 2 Accept the facts. Don’t get lost in blame and tears; you are no longer a victim of the past. A creative response (non-blaming) will allow you to move forward and leave the hurt behind, so be creative in your approach. If you need to express your feelings about what happened then make sure you do this but don’t get stuck in repeated emotional discharge (this might feel like you are working through something when you are really only going over the same old issue).

Step 3 Decide to let go. This is a defining moment. Are you ready to let go or are you still gaining more from moaning, blaming and feeling angry? Once you have definitely confirmed your desire to forgive, then the process really starts moving. Don’t expect 100% success immediately, it might take a while. Sometimes it’s only possible to forgive a bit at a time (I can forgive this but not that at the moment). Later you might bring yourself to let go of that, but only if you hang on to something else. Forgiveness is a process that has a profound curative effect on the wounds of the past and eventually these wounds can be healed.

Step 4 Enjoy the freedom that forgiveness brings. The more you can forgive the better you will feel about yourself and the rest of the world, and as you let go of pain your heart will fill with love and peace. Forgiveness is the ultimate gift as it brings love to both the forgiver and the forgiven.

Coaching and confidence boosting at http://www.lyndafield.com Copyright © Lynda Field 2015 Extracted from the book Fast Track to Happiness by Lynda Field  

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