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The Life-Transforming Power of Forgiveness

All of us, without exception, have had people come into our lives that hurt us in one way or another.  And most of us hold onto that grudge for a long time, sometimes forever. Most people don’t forgive  because they don’t understand what forgiveness is. So let's start with what forgiveness is not. 

Forgiveness is not condoning the other person’s behavior. Forgiving someone does not mean that  what they did to you was acceptable in any way. Forgiveness does not mean letting those same  people back into your life to hurt you again. It’s important to set strong boundaries. In some cases, it  may be necessary to cut these people out of your life. And as for people you cannot cut off contact  with, like parents or other family members, you can certainly reduce contact with them. 

You also need to realize that forgiveness is not something you do once and then you’re over and done  with it. It’s something you may have to do over and over again until you feel an inner shift.  Think of it like an onion. You remove one layer and then there’s another one underneath it. For simple  incidents, there may be one layer. But for more complex relationships, there are often many layers of  hurt, anger, and resentment to let go of.  

By not forgiving, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. You become bitter,  angry and resentful and that colors your whole life. Holding onto resentment means that you’re giving  your power away to the other person. Think how happy your enemies would be to think of how what  they did or said is eating you up inside. They don’t have to destroy you, because you’re doing it to  yourself. Forgiving is reclaiming your power. The more you focus on hurt, resentment and pain, the  more events, circumstances and people you will attract into your life that will give you more  resentment, hurt and pain.  

You don’t forgive because the other person deserves it. You forgive because you deserve it……because  you deserve to live a life free from the shackles of the past. Forgiveness frees up a tremendous  amount of mental and emotional energy and allows your body to heal. And finally, it opens the doors  of abundance and blessings for you. Once you forgive and stop dwelling on the past, you’ll stop  attracting people and circumstances that bring you pain.  

There’s a beautiful quote from the book “The Power of Forgiveness” and I’d like to share it with you. “When we won’t forgive, when we won’t let go, we’re binding ourselves to the past and when we are  stuck in the past, we cannot live in the present time and if we are not living in the present, how can we  create our glorious future? Old garbage from the past just creates new garbage for the future.”  

So what does forgiveness entail? 

Forgiveness means not carrying a grudge in your heart against the person who hurt you.  Forgiveness means that if you were given the chance to retaliate and seek revenge, you wouldn’t want  to.  

Forgiveness means that you let go of the need to see them suffer and pay for the hurt they put you  through.  

Forgiveness means that you can wish them well and pray for their guidance.  

One of the keys to forgiveness is developing compassion for the person who has hurt you. There’s a  saying “Hurt people hurt people.” Try and develop compassion for this person and for what they have  been through in their lives.  

Sometimes life sends us certain people or situations because there is a lesson we need to learn. This  is especially true if the same situation keeps recurring. What is the lesson that you need to learn? 

Perhaps the lesson is forgiveness or compassion or learning to love yourself or maybe learning to  stand up for yourself.  

Sometimes the hardest situations we go through set us on the path to finding our true purpose in life  and turn us into the amazing people we were meant to be.  

Accept responsibility for the part you played in the incident. This is a very hard step for most of us. We  prefer looking at ourselves as innocent victims. If, for example, you allowed someone to abuse you,  acknowledge that. We are often not as powerless as we make ourselves out to be. If someone abused  you and you stayed, you were the one who allowed them to abuse you. We teach people how to treat  us. And while you may not be responsible for how someone treats you, you are responsible for  allowing it to continue. And if you played no part in it, (you were a young child who was abused by a  parent, for example), then realize that while you may not be responsible for what happened to you,  you are still responsible for your reaction to the event.  

And therein lies your power.  

Just because something bad or tragic happened to you does not mean that you have to be miserable  for the rest of your life. Realize that this incident exists nowhere else but in your mind. It’s time to let it  go so that you can move forward into a new and better life.  

There are several techniques you can try to help you forgive. You can choose the one that fits the  situation and person you want to forgive, the one that appeals to you the most or you can try them all.  

The letter-writing technique 

This is the perfect technique to forgive someone who may have passed away. It is also good to use  with someone who will never admit they hurt you, let alone ask for your forgiveness. In this technique,  you write a letter to the person who has hurt you. In it, you fully express how this person has hurt you.  Don’t hold anything back. Let it all out. If you want to swear and curse and call them every name under  the sun, then do that. The important thing is to hold nothing back and to let it all out. Read it through 2- 3 times, adding on more things as they occur to you. Once you feel you’re done, burn the letter. As you  watch the letter go up in flames, let it symbolize you letting go of the past and of the ties of resentment  binding yourself to this person and the past finally being released. Feel a deep sense of freedom and  inner peace fill your mind and body. You may have to write a letter several times and burn it to fully  release the pain and forgive the person.  

The journaling technique 

Get out your journal or a blank notebook and find a place where you won’t be disturbed for at least an  hour. Start by taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself. Then bring the person you want to forgive  to the forefront of your mind. Continue breathing deeply and start writing the following statements  down in your book “I forgive you, I release you and I let you go.” Write this out 70 times and as you write  it, say it out loud. This will keep you fully engaged. Repeat this process every day for at least 7 days.  Then after 7 days start noticing if there is any anger or resentment left. Can you remember the incident  without as much pain as before? Did you experience any changes in your life this week that could be  the result of letting go? For example, are you sleeping better, do you have less pain and so on? If you  feel that you still need to do more forgiving, then start writing the affirmation seventy times again for  the next seven days. Continue the process until you feel that you have forgiven this person and that  you are ready to move on.  

Letting go of smaller hurts 

This is another journaling technique that is very effective in letting go of smaller hurts. In your journal,  make a list of everyone you feel needs your forgiveness. Then next to each name, write down the thing  that the person needs to be forgiven for. Next, while breathing deeply to keep yourself grounded, go 

through each name on the list and say silently (or out loud if you can) “I love you. I forgive you. I let you  go.” Then just imagine yourself feeling free and light.  

A forgiveness process you can do anywhere 

This technique is best used in conjunction with either the journaling technique or the letter-writing technique, but it’s still very powerful even when used on its own. The first step is to bring up the  person who hurt you in your mind. Feel the anger, the resentment or whatever other emotions come  up toward that person. Then say silently “I forgive you, I bless you, I release you, I let you go.” Repeat  this process every time you think of this person. Do this for as long as necessary until you feel your  heart start to soften. Once you feel that, you can add the words “I love you” to the beginning of the  forgiveness statement. Continue repeating this statement until you feel a shift and you feel that you  have forgiven this person.  

The forgiveness meditation 

If you meditate regularly, this is a wonderful technique to be included in your practice. Once you’re in  a meditative state, imagine the person who hurt you sitting across from you. They are just sitting there,  not interacting with you in any way. Open your heart and begin to send healing, forgiving energy from  your heart to the other person. Say silently or out loud “I forgive you, I let you go, I set you and myself  free.” Repeat this over and over until you feel a shift. This may take several repetitions, perhaps over  several days or even weeks. Keep doing it until you feel that you have forgiven this person.  

As you start forgiving people, start paying attention to how your life starts transforming. Be prepared  for miracles to happen. Relationships will transform, people will start changing how they respond to  you, you will feel happier and more at peace than you’ve probably ever felt in your life, chronic health issues may start resolving themselves and healing, your income may increase and new opportunities  will start coming into your life. It will be like you’re suddenly in flow. Try it and experience the life transforming power of forgiveness.  

Zuzana Imrichova 

Body Coach, Life Coach and NLP Practitioner

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