|Decrease Stress, Increase Happiness Series:
By J. Arielle Golden
Forgiveness is one of the most difficult — and controversial — topics to discuss.
Actually, forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for our own well-being. As the old saying goes, not forgiving is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
One day I was walking through the Honolulu airport. I was happy to be in Hawaii and to be teaching a seminar the next day. Suddenly, I was angry. My thoughts were angry and my body reacted with tension as my stress levels went through the roof.
I stopped myself in the middle of the airport to pay attention to what was going on. I realized I had just seen something that reminded me of an object I had seen on the day of the “big break-up.” Seeing this object put me right back into the situation. My mind was yelling at me, “Why didn’t you tell him off? Why didn’t you leave sooner? Why didn’t you hurt him more than he hurt you?”
Even though the break-up had been several years before, I was re-experiencing it in the present. The only person I was punishing was me. I took a deep breath, and I forgave him and me for not being perfect. Then I changed the energy by smiling and having a wonderful time in Honolulu.
Did he know I forgave him? No.
The most important part of the process was that I forgave myself and released the negative emotions.
To forgive doesn’t mean that you must love or even like people you have forgiven. It also doesn’t mean you allow others to continue to abuse you. It’s OK to end relationships or minimize contact. It’s also OK to see others as flawed human beings (just like us) and not take their actions personally.
A friend went through a bad divorce. She said the big reason was because her ex-husband was rude and inconsiderate. Now, every time she deals with him he continues to be rude and inconsiderate. This makes her angry, and she relives all the hurts from her marriage. Finally, I asked, “Why are you angry with him for being exactly who he is?”
Here is an exercise to help you with forgiveness.
Try this exercise, see what you discover, and notice what happens to your level of stress.
Remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
J. Arielle Golden is a highly sought-after seminar leader, business consultant, and a Licensed Heartmath® Coach. Ms. Golden brings a rich tapestry of experience and knowledge to her keynotes and seminars. Here are just a few of her most requested programs: Communication and Collaboration, Listening Skills, and Developing Your Emotional Intelligence. To arrange to have J. Arielle Golden come into your organization to present a custom program for you, contact our Enterprise Learning Solutions department at 1-800-344-4613.
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This is an awesome statement. "Finally, I asked, “Why are you angry with him for being exactly who he is?”
There is indeed wisdom in forgiveness.
Thanks for sharing this article.
I love this article. It reminds me of a situation I was in relating to loaning money to a person who never repaid me. I was angry every time I saw her. I finally figures out I was hurting myself. I approached her and said, "since it is close to Christmas don't worry about paying the debt, consider it your Christmas gift". Once I did that, I felt so much better. Thanks for a wonderful article.
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