Forgiveness opens new doors for us by allowing us to release the past and step into our power. We remain stagnant when we are stuck in the past and use it as an excuse to keep from moving forward. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for releasing the negativity of the past and for improving current relationships you want to keep.
Before I discuss creating a practice, let me clear up a few misconceptions about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for you. Holding onto resentment, bitterness and grudges continues to hurt you and impact your life, not the life of the person who committed the perceived wrong against you. Forgiveness does not mean accepting or condoning behavior that hurt you, it is about releasing the emotional hold that past events have over you. Forgiveness does not take the participation of the party that hurt you, it is a solo healing process.
The benefits of forgiveness are tremendous. It assists in relieving the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety, improves your relationships and even lowers blood pressure. There is a wonderful book, The Law of Forgiveness, I discovered during my time in North Carolina that was written by a local author in Chapel Hill, Connie Domino. The book really did help me to shift the course of my life and release years of accumulated resentment. It sets forth a simple process for forgiveness. I scheduled some personal coaching sessions with Connie, which were extremely helpful, and highly recommend purchasing the book, but here is a general overview of the process:
1. Identify and make a list of all the people you need to forgive. (When I first started this process, my list was long. I went as far back as I could remember. There were so many “stories” about my life I perpetuated.)
2. Close your eyes and visualize one of the people you need to forgive. You may want to start small, with a grievance that is easier to let go.
3. State a forgiveness affirmation (provided in the book) to that person in your mind. The words you use are very important here in order to truly allow for complete forgiveness.
4. Visualize the person accepting your forgiveness.
5. Turn it around so they forgive you, too. You never know what you may have done to hurt the other person.
6. Once the process is complete visualize them walking out the door and leaving your mind.
7. Forgive yourself. This allows you to release resentment you have towards yourself for past decisions.
Repeat this process as often as needed to adequately release negativity and forgive a particular person. Sometimes I’ve felt a significant shift after working through this process once. Other times, I’ve needed to repeat the affirmation for a certain person daily for many weeks to feel a change. Depending on the depth of the hurt and the length of the history forgiveness, like all healing, can take time. Connie addresses how to deal with any continued anger and how to use forgiveness as a stepping stone to move onto a new life path in her book. Come back to this process at times when you need to again seek forgiveness.
Take some time to reflect on who you need to forgive. Who is holding onto your thoughts, heart and soul? Who is still living in your mind despite their absence in your life? What resentments from the past are you holding onto that you need to release?
Forgiveness is a powerful tool that allows you to move forward and live the life of your dreams. Just imagine what you could accomplish if you weren’t holding onto the pain of the past and re-living it daily. Make the decision to release, let go and forgive. The results are miraculous.