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How to Forgive and Forget

By Debbie Mandel

One of the most basic steps on the pathway to happiness is forgiveness. However, most of us say, ďYeah right, forgive that betrayal! My anger is justifiable.Ē Holding on to grudges, entrenched in being absolutely right, we doom ourselves to living in the past while poisoning our present. Part of the problem is that many of our words are never properly communicated because of our own inability to listen! Itís similar to the frustration of a toddler awkward in his speech trying to make himself understood to well-meaning adults. The result is a temper tantrum. Remember the oracles in the Greek plays, Oedipu and Antigone or the witches in the Shakespearean play Macbeth? They knew how to deceive the unwary listener who thought that he or she had insider information to the absolute truth. It wasnít that the oracles or witches lied; itís just that the listener misunderstood.

We tend to see in others traits similar to our own. And when we dislike someone, often it is something within ourselves we donít like. To be relaxed and content we need to face the truth within. So, when we hold onto anger and canít forgive, we canít be happy; letís turn it around. Itís the self we canít forgive. After all, we allowed ourselves to be hurt! Once we forgive ourselves for failures and perceived betrayals, we will be able to forgive others. The hardest person to have compassion for is the self. When we fail at something, we consider ourselves to be failures. Itís time to separate who we are from what we do. When we forgive ourselves for past defeats, we can rise to the next level to improve all our intimate relationships.

Everyone hears voices in their heads Ė good voices and bad voices. Isnít it logical to filter out the bad voices? We all know that if we have a pain in the body, the more we focus on the pain, the more it hurts and makes us irritable and negative. When we are distracted or give our attention to the things we enjoy, the pain diminishes and dissipates.

When spiritualists link peace of mind with happiness, they focus on the word peace. When we are at war with others emotionally, we cannot be at peace with the self. We have given away our power to the people who have hurt us, allowing them to continue to hurt us. Thatís why forgiveness which wipes the slate clean for the ďenemyĒ removes the stain on our spirit.

Remember we tend to make up details that we take as facts. Itís human nature to create stories about everything and fill in the missing pieces. However, these subjective stories change according to our changing life situations. The more self-confident we are, the kinder the interpretation. Kindness fortifies your self-worth.

To facilitate the process of forgiveness:
  • Examine what you are telling yourself. Do you lean to the negative or the positive? Your state of mind colors your perceptions.
  • Can you open up to another personís point of view and accept a differing opinion?
  • Do you expect more from other people than you do from yourself?
  • What is really bothering you: That someone hurt you or that you allowed yourself to be hurt?
  • To reframe your anger: The universe sent you the person who hurt you to teach you a lesson. This is your growing pain. Forgiveness is part of the lesson.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com