I grappled with Maya Angelou’s quote for months: “If you must look back, do so forgivingly."
6 months ago, “forgiveness” held no practical significance for me. It was conceptual, and since I didn't think I held long grudges, I didn't think it applied to me.
When I added compassionate self-forgiveness to my toolbox, however, forgiveness became quite powerful for me in ways I didn't anticipate. Here’s how:
The truth of it is that there is no changing the past. Events occurred. Things happened. It’s done.
The past is never the problem. The past is perfect.
Problems lie in our judgments and opinions about the past. These judgments and opinions live in the present.
The past does have impacts - things like consequences and outcomes, physical and psychological trauma, etc. However, these aren’t a problem either. They’re not bad or wrong either.
Problems only lie in our judgments and opinions about these impacts. These judgments and opinions live in the present.
Many of us drink poison and hope that it fixes our problems.
We drink the poisons of resentment, anger, and justification. We drink the poisons of shame, regret, and guilt. We drink these poisons over and over again, hoping that it somehow heals our wounds.
We drink these poisons and hope someone else apologizes, feels ashamed, learns, dies, or fixes the problem. We drink poison and hope it absolves us of our sins.
Forgiveness is the alternative to poison. Where anger, resentment, hate, shame, and guilt are poison, forgiveness is a healing elixir.
Forgiveness is a key to unlocking acceptance and its much more powerful siblings: love and gratitude.
Forgiveness is an action. Forgiveness is a commitment. Forgiving is a way of being.
Forgiveness is a willingness to find peace, love, and gratitude within ourselves about others, ourselves, and the past.
Forgiveness seems like a gift we give to others, and sometimes it is. However:
Forgiveness is always a gift we give ourselves.
Stop drinking the poisons of shame, regret, anger, resentment. Instead, forgive.
“I forgive myself for doing that.”
“I forgive myself for saying that.”
“I forgive myself for thinking that.”
“I forgive them for doing that.”
“I forgive them for saying that.”
“I forgive them for thinking that.”
And along with those words, bring in some feeling. Feel some compassion. Feel some love. Feel some relaxation and some release. Feel some letting go.
What I love about forgiveness is that it brings me to what really matters and to the ultimate access to freedom, opportunity, and possibility:
This moment is perfect.
After all, the only place this moment ever occurs as imperfect, screwed up, or wrong is in our own judgments and opinions.
Compassionate forgiveness - forgiving ourselves, forgiving others - doesn't change the past. But it does change the present and the future.
The present is where life is really happening anyway.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️