They say that holding a grudge is like drinking a vial of poison and expecting the other person to get sick. The only person being hurt by doing this is you. So why do we do it then? Why do we hold on to something that hurts us so? It’s like there is some part of us, some piece of our soul, stuck in time guarding us from a harm or perceived harm that is long done and over with. In truth, the only reason we still hurt, that we haven’t been able to heal from this wound that we are protecting, is the fact that we have not forgiven the other person for the harm that they did to us. By holding a resentment, every time we choose to think about it, we in fact re-create that harm that they did to us. But this time it isn’t them hurting us, it is we that are hurting ourselves.
Not only do we feel the hurt when we mentally and emotionally revisit this event of harm, but we will find that the unhealed wound has a tendency to get toxic. It begins to affect other parts of our psyche seemingly unrelated to the original offense. This is how we develop things like the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of abandonment, the fear of being alone, etc. If we want to be rid of these plagues of self we need to find a way to heal the original wound that has festered and bring back that part of the soul that is protecting it so we can once again feel whole.
So how does one go about forgiving someone, especially someone that we do not forgive or that we do not believe deserves to be forgiven? How do we free that bit of our soul from the torment that is being stuck in time wounded? The way to heal these wounds is through forgiveness.
FORGIVENESS PROCESS: PRAY FOR THEM
This is an exercise that I write about in my book, Your Power to Change, and was based upon an excerpt from a 12 step program that has helped countless addicts and alcoholics recover and live happy, productive, and meaningful lives. This process has been proven to work countless times.
The process is simple. This is the process I used to forgive those who had sexually assaulted me. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the things in your life that bring you happiness, joy, peace, love, and prosperity, and all the things you would like to have or do that would bring you more happiness, joy, peace, love, and prosperity. Imagine your best life.
Once you have written them down, take the time to fully associate with this ideal future you want. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Bring as much detail into it as you can. Make it as wonderful as you possibly can. Your subconscious mind cannot distinguish between real or imagined thoughts, especially if the imagined thoughts have an intense kinesthetic quality to them.
When you feel like you have made this moment as wonderful as it can be, pray or hope that the person you have a resentment towards is receiving all these things. That’s right. Pray something like this, “God, I wish that they have all the joy and happiness and love and prosperity that they can possibly have. That they might feel like I feel in my heart right now. If it is your will to do so, Lord, love them, bless them, may your grace fall upon them. Please take this wonderful feeling I have in my heart right now and give it to them, so that they might feel this feeling in this moment and be comforted by your perfect Light and Love.”
The words will be different every time. The keys to this are to feel as wonderful as you can, maintain or increase that feeling throughout, all while holding the person to be forgiven in your heart and asking God to allow them to feel this feeling.
You don’t even need to mean it, although if you do that helps. Just feeling that wonderful feeling and associating the person to be forgiven will create an association between the two. The two thoughts will fire and wire together.
Now, if you do not believe in prayer, simply visualize the other person as feeling as wonderful as you are right now. Visualize them as having all the things they need and desire to bring them as much peace and joy and love as they could possibly hope for.
Right now when you think about this person, you feel resentment towards them and all the pain, fears, unwanted thoughts, and emotions that go with it. This exercise will allow you to begin to associate this person with love, joy, and peace when you think about them. What you are doing with this exercise is creating a different conditioned response towards this person.
You are changing the stimulus/response of
thoughts of person = bad unwanted feelings
thoughts of person = good wanted feelings.
Just like any conditioned response, it will take practice. Sometimes it just takes a couple of days. Sometimes a couple of weeks. This will depend on the strength of the resentment and your willingness to forgive them. Do this every day until you feel like either God has taken this resentment from you and allowed you to forgive this person, or you feel like you have effectively programmed yourself to think differently about this person and forgive them. You will know when this is done by feeling love and peace and joy automatically whenever you think about this person.
Remember, when you resent someone you are choosing to have negative feelings about something that happened in the past. We cannot control anything in the past because it doesn’t exist any longer. It happened. It’s over. The energy and power we choose to leave in the past by harboring resentment is just energy and power that we cannot use in the present to create a better tomorrow. The choice is yours to forgive them or not. There is no wrong answer. It takes what it takes. Things are what they are.
When it came time for me to forgive the two babysitters that sexually assaulted me as a child, it was difficult. I didn’t even want to think about any of it. I tried to convince myself that it was over and nothing needed to be done about it. It was just something that happened. But the truth of the matter was that those assaults messed me up pretty bad. I saw how they had influenced my self esteem and all the romantic relationships I had ever had. The damage was real, and part of me was really angry about it. It made me so sad to think that something like that caused me so much pain in my life. I had to let go. I had to forgive the situation and the two people involved. I applied this technique to both of them and the results have been pretty special. I also needed to forgive God for it. “How could you let this happen to me God?” My God and I are in pretty good standing now because I recognized the need to forgive. I harbored resentment. I was choosing to remain in pain. To not feel those feelings anymore is such a gift; I am eternally grateful.
I would like you to consider one more benefit before we move on to the next exercise. Every time you do this for the other person, you are experiencing these feelings yourself. You are experiencing the love. You are experiencing the joy. You are experiencing the peace. And you are experiencing the prosperity. In experiencing these, you are making these things true for you in that moment. You are blessing yourself at that moment. You are also telling your subconscious mind that you want and will have these things in your life. Our life becomes what we think about the most. This exercise of forgiveness will benefit you and those around you in so many ways. And oh yeah, it feels really, really good.
I truly hope you find this exercise useful and I hope that it will help you in your life. I write because I want to give back the joy and serenity that was so freely given to me. I write because I love you and I want you to experience as much joy and prosperity as you could possibly hope for.
May you find the strength to always forgive,