Forgiven Not Forgotten

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BY PRIYA ALI

Buddha said, “Being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. Forgiveness is often withheld as people feel that in forgiving we are accepting or condoning the perceived wrongdoing or words uttered.  In many instances, those we are denying of forgiveness are not even aware that we are still bearing ill feelings or simply undisturbed by the situation and going about their daily business.

This leaves us bearing the negativity of anger, sadness, disappointment and pain within ourselves.  It leaves us disempowered and controlled by negative emotion and the burden of carrying the grudge. Forgiveness actually frees us from this burden and allows for more positive emotions and experience to enter our lives.  When you go to the shopping mall parking lot and there is a car parked in one of the spaces you cannot park there. Similarly, when we hold negative emotion in our being, we have no space for positive emotion.  

Like many of you, I have had unsavory acts committed against me or hateful and harsh words said to me. The old cliché is to forgive and forget, but often the forgetting part is challenging. This is because the experience is a part of our memory and so from time to time something will trigger our memories of these situations.   

Throughout the years of serving as a life coach, I have invited my clients to forgive and not to worry about forgetting. eOften times our mind, body and spirit will resist forgetting. Being that we are programmed that the two go hand in hand, we feel we are unable to forgive because we are unable to forget. We also choose to remember because we don’t want a repeat offence and wish to protect ourselves in the future. By taking the forgetting out of the equation, it gives us permission to let go of the anger and negative emotions without leaving us vulnerable in the future.

Almost every one of us has one person in common that we have trouble forgiving…ourselves.  Self -forgiveness is not only one of the biggest challenges people face but it rarely crosses our minds that we require and deserve to forgive ourselves for things. Just as we would do when we forgive someone else, we need to verbally forgive ourselves for whatever perceived crime we committed.  

An easy way to do this is to create a list of all the things you feel you have done wrong.  Go in front of a mirror or just imagine yourself looking down on you and speaking.  Proceed to verbally forgive “you” for each item on your list, the way you would if you were speaking to someone else.  Remember to have the same level of compassion for yourself and you would for another person.

One of the lines we use in my household is, “it’s not ok, but I forgive you.” This lets the other person know their words and actions were not acceptable to you but that you forgive them. You can now go ahead and forgive and not forget.

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