Mom told me today that she thinks I am very forgiving. I have forgiven many people, including myself, for what happened in the past. That is a huge part of my process right now; I realize the past cannot be recovered in any way, and I decided to refuse to be crabby or sad about things I cannot change. The important word is decided. But more about that in a couple of minutes.
I have not always been a forgiving person. I have maintained anger, or grudges, or mourning, for a very long time, with no intention to forgive anyone. Some of my worst episodes of anger and/or sulking have arisen because I refused to forgive something that someone else caused in my life. I haven’t known, until recently, that I stayed angry with others, in order to alleviate the anger I felt toward myself.
That self-hatred, and my too-high expectations of myself, have been a problem for a very long time. I can’t remember a time when they weren’t there in my operating toolbox. And I never met any of my own expectations. That has been a source of great pain and distress in the past. I never did understand why I expected things of myself that I knew I wouldn’t do; I look back now, and see that my lack of self-worth and self-confidence led me to set myself up every time.
But I have, as I said, decided to forgive myself, and to forgive anyone I felt had wronged me through all those years. I made that decision as part of my decision to be happy, to stop wasting time being miserable, depressed, lonely, and sad. And if I can make that decision, I suspect many or even most people can. It is not an easy point to get to, but once I decided to let the past go, and with it anything or anyone I felt needed forgiving, I was astounded at how easy it was, from that other side. I resisted any idea of turning toward the positive for years. Once I did, I felt like I belonged in that happy place, that I don’t need to fix anything from the past, because I cannot.
Hurt and anger are very difficult emotions of which to let go. Those are the emotions we so often feel when we’ve been wronged. Letting go of those feelings can be frightening, especially if they’ve been part of your life for a long time. So often we refuse to let them go, and we stay stuck in that sad, scared, angry place. I have a suggestion: Choose one thing that you feel was aimed against you. It needn’t be anything huge; just a little something that you have held onto for a while. Try to forgive the person who caused that one little problem, and I believe that you will, as I have, find it feels so good to forgive that you want to do more and more.
That is deciding to forgive. That is making the choice for your own benefit to let go of the anger and pain of past mistreatment. All anyone needs do is decide that, because the past is gone and can’t be changed, holding onto negative feelings is only harmful to you. To forgive those who have wronged you is to be able, finally, to dismiss them from your life, or to picture them in a whole new fashion. Either is better, I believe, than holding on to unhappiness. Try it — if it doesn’t work, feel free to comment and tell me it didn’t work for you. But I think, more often than not, it will.