Forgiveness will bring you peace (and a very cool story) !
If you are asked "what is your top value in life" do you have a ready answer? Of course family is right up there for most of us, but what do you 'personally' need? For me the answer is easy: my number one value is "peace". When you have lived in chaos, when you know the feeling of knots in your stomach as you approach your home, when you don't know what turmoil you may walk into arriving home, well, home is not the safe peaceful place it should be. I am so grateful that now (and for many years) my home is my favourite place to be. It is a place of love, laughter, understanding, compassion and of course, a peaceful predictable haven.
Although I had created a safe environment, those years of turmoil and chaos left me with a whole lot of resentment in my heart. When I made the difficult but necessary choice of leaving an alcoholic marriage, I knew 100% that it was the right thing to do, but I had no idea how I was going to survive. I have shared my story openly many times - but in a nutshell I needed to raise and support a young family on my own. The greatest resentment I had was the feeling that I had been 'hurtled' through life for years and my kids' childhood had been from me. I think we all know where that resentment was directed! I seemed to have no time to savour the small moments, or to have one-on-one time with each child. Between my work, kids' homework, meals, shuttling to sports and the million other daily tasks, I was spread very thin. I knew that this was a loss, and it pissed me off. But I also knew I had to let go and forgive.
Why is forgiveness so important? Some negative affects could be an inability to trust others, or we become bitter or cynical. For small slights or hurtful words, I remind myself that most people truly mean well and are doing the best they can. I myself have spent decades learning to pause & think for a second or 5 rather than blurting out the first words that pop into my head! I was tired of backpedaling and trying to explain my ill-chosen words. I know that I have never deliberately hurt or embarrassed another person, and I like to assume the same of others.
On a larger scale pent up anger and resentment does more harm to you than the person you are upset with. I had a mind-boggling experience about 15 years ago that truly brought this home. I was studying a wonderful book You Can Heal Your Life, by the late Louise Hay. Louise reminds us that "the past is over and done. We cannot change that now. Yet we can change our thoughts about the past". Isn't that so true, yet maybe not so simple? I had at this time been experiencing shoulder pain for and nothing would relieve it. So - early one morning I was reading the section on dissolving resentment. The exercise goes as follows: "Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a darkened theatre. The person you resent the most is on the stage. Visualize good things happening to him/her - things that would be meaningful. " (I have paraphrased Louise's words here). She states that "this exercise dissolves the dark clouds of resentment most of us carry". Well here is the miracle: My shoulder pain went away instantly and it never returned!! This is 100% the true and is to date my most powerful mind over matter experience ever.
Are you holding any lingering bitterness or grudges? This quote says it all -- it's doing much more harm to you than to them!
If you are having trouble letting go, perhaps check out this article from the Mayo Clinic. Just for fun, how about trying Louse Hay's exercise? Admit it, there is probably someone you hold a seed of resentment towards. Take 5 minutes and visualize good things happening in their life; release your negative feelings. I am willing to bet that you will feel a little surge of peace and love in your heart. And is that not a wonderful feeling?
with love (and forgiveness) Pat xo