One of the biggest blockers to peace in the present is holding onto resentment from the past and living in a space of bitterness and unforgiveness.
There have been so many moments of my life when I’ve thought my work with “forgiveness” was complete. I had done so much deep inner work to call out and release old hang-ups and I thought at this point in my life, I was totally clear.
However, in moments of stillness and deep introspection, tired feelings of bitterness still have a way of rearing their little nasty heads and rising to the surface for healing.
What I’ve realized is that a forgiveness practice – at least for me personally – can’t simply be something I do once, or once a year, or once every six months. In order to truly live in a space of peace, it has to be a moment-to-moment practice that I commit to.
I’ve developed a few practical tools that have become my go-tos for bringing mindful awareness to moments when forgiveness is called for.
Here they are! Take if you need :).
1. Start with a willingness. Sometimes we have the consciousness to know that we need to forgive someone, but we simply don’t know how. The good news is that you don’t need to know the “how” right away. You can simply start by saying, “I am willing to forgive.” Try reciting this mantra and see where you are led. When it feels impossible to forgive, this simple mantra can be a lifesaver.
2. Practice self-compassion. When someone hurts us, especially when we are highly sensitive and empathetic people, it’s easy to blame ourselves or take on the feeling that we somehow deserved the pain that we experienced. Honor your pain and speak to yourself as lovingly as you would speak to your best friend. An inner dialogue I’ve had to strike up with myself after someone’s bad behavior hurt me deeply was to say, “Wow. That was truly terrible what this person did to you. You didn’t deserve that. You are worthy of being treated with love and respect. You deserve so much better.”
3. Shift your perspective. It’s a universal truth that hurt people hurt people. If someone caused you to suffer, see if you can acknowledge the ways that that person must have been suffering in order to behave that way. This isn’t about making their behavior “ok” or allowing them back into your life, it’s about realizing that the pain they caused you had nothing to do with your worthiness, value, and deservability, and EVERYTHING to do with their own issues.
4. Recite mantras that bring you peace. Here are the personal mantras that I use whenever I find my mind getting hung up on someone who I feel has harmed me in some way. You can recite them internally or out loud as you hold an image in your mind’s eye of the one who has caused you pain.
5. Give love to the relationships that fulfill you. After you recite the above mantras (or ones of your own!), take tangible action to cultivate and nurture positive relationships in your life today. Send good energy, reach out to connect, speak words of love, or even perform a random act of kindness for a friend you really adore, a co-worker who always treats you well, or a mentor who positively impacts your life. And don’t forget to do the same to nurture the most important relationship you’ll ever have (the one you have with YOURSELF). As you put more mental, emotional, and physical energy into these present relationships that serve you, you’ll find yourself more easily releasing your grip on the past… and may just end up pretty damn happy :).
Now I would love to hear from you! Do any of these tools resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below.