Forgiveness sets you free.
South Africans are an inspiration to the world. The activites of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) have helped many people globally realise that forgiveness is not only achievable – even in very extreme circumstances – but it is vital to the health of individuals, the health of a family, the health of a people and the health of a nation. In other parts the world, South Africa is held as being a shining example of what forgiveness can achieve.
The names of people like Desmond Milo Tutu and of course, the unforgettable, Nelson Mandela, are renowned all over the planet as bright lights which illuminate our world and stand for values of forgiveness, reconciliation and justice for all.
Of course, wise people know that the unsung heroes of all this are the South African people themselves. Leaders can only lead people where they are willing to be led. It is the willingness to move forward and leave the past behind, and the immensely strong spirit for good, of ordinary South Africa people which is truly an inspiration to the informed global citizen.
Let us strengthen and affirm this spirit of good and this willingness to forgive. Let’s get back to basics and remind ourselves as to why forgiveness is such a good thing. At this time of year, around Youth Day as the Soweto uprising is commemorated, let us look at forgiveness from a very personal – almost self-centred – perspective to see if that will bring new life and new energies to our capacity and willingness to forgive.
Somebody once asked, “Why should I forgive? What is in it for me?”. If you find this attitude in yourself, or in others. Or, if you have become tired and jaded about forgiveness. What follows is something which can help:
You benefit immensely when you choose to forgive and so does everyone around you. Whether you need to forgive others, or need to forgive yourself, doing so sets you free from the past and enables you to fulfil your true potential. Forgiveness allows you to break free from limiting beliefs and attitudes. It frees up your mental and emotional energies so that you can apply them to creating a better life.
Forgiveness helps you achieve even your most practical and immediate goals. Perhaps you want a better job, to earn more money, have better relationships, or live in a nicer place. Forgiveness helps you achieve all of these. If you have not forgiven then a part of your inner life energy is trapped in resentment, anger, pain, or suffering of some kind. This trapped life energy will limit you. It it like trying to ride a bicycle with the brakes partly on all the time. It slows you down, frustrates you and makes it difficult to move forward.
The choices you make and the things that you believe are possible will all be influenced by the ways you have not forgiven. As you learn to forgive the energy which was going into unhappy thoughts and feelings gets liberated and can flow into creating the life you want rather than limiting you, or creating more suffering.
If you do not want to learn to forgive to benefit yourself; then learn to forgive so you can benefit others. As you learn to forgive you benefit everyone you are in contact with. Your thinking will be clearer and more positive than before. You will have a lot more to give and you will more readily enjoy sharing what you have. You will naturally and easily become kinder, more generous and more caring of others – without having to struggle to achieve this. You will have a happier and more positive attitude to the people in your life and they will respond more positively to you in return.
Is a forgiving person easier to be around than an unforgiving one? Yes, of course they are. A forgiving person is always much easier to be around than an unforgiving one. The quality of your life depends on the quality of your relationships. Every aspect of your life will change for the better as you learn to forgive; whether in your family, your work life or your social life. Learning to forgive will improve all your relationships, because your attitude will improve. As your relationships improve, then all aspects of your life will also improve.
If you want to move up to the next level of financial abundance and success, Forgiveness will help you achieve it. For example, if you want more money in your life you need to make sure that you do not resent people who have more money than you. People with more money than you are the ones best placed to help you have more money too. If, as some people do, you resent “people with money” then they will not be able to help you, because you are not open to them while you are busy resenting them. Likewise, if you have a positive attitude to people who are more successful than you (you smile at them rather than glower at them) they will see you as approachable and will more likely want to work with you, or socialise with you.
If you want a better job, and to earn more money, then having a positive attitude towards the place you work, towards your boss, towards colleagues and towards clients or customers, helps immensely. People who have a positive, helpful attitude stand out in any situation. You can never succeed in an organisation which you do not want to succeed, because you will not give of your best. If you do not give of your best, by doing the best job you can, then you will not receive the best that can come to you. Forgiveness will help you have the kind of attitude which will make you very successful at your job.
Learning to forgive yourself is vitally important too. Hurting yourself, by refusing to forgive yourself, hurts others also. If you do not forgive yourself then you will punish yourself by denying yourself the good things in life. The more you deny yourself the less you have to give. The less you have to give the less you can benefit those around you. When you stop limiting what you receive then you stop limiting what you can give. Everyone benefits when you forgive yourself as you then allow more good into your life, and have a lot more to share.
When you forgive; you become a better husband or wife, you become a better student or teacher, you become a better employer or employee and you become a better parent or child. When you forgive you are more open to success in whatever ways are meaningful to you. As you learn to forgive, what seemed impossible not only becomes possible, but can even become easily achievable.
If you are a religious, or spiritually minded, person then learning practical ways to forgive will enhance and deepen your experience of your religion or spiritual practice. It will help free you from guilt about not being as “good” as you feel you should be, because it will help you become the type of person you would like to be. Practising forgiveness strengthens the goodness within you so that it becomes more active in your life. You will naturally feel less inclined to do the things you know you should not do, but have not been able to stop yourself doing. You will start to do more of the things you know you ought to do, but have not been able to get yourself to do.
Learning to forgive can only help you; it cannot hurt you.
Forgiveness is immensely practical and helpful. There is nothing vague, or impractical about it. Forgiveness sets you free. As you learn to forgive many problems (possibly even health problems) will gradually disappear. It will be as if you can view your life from above and can see the easiest way get to where you want to be. Life will open up in front of you. New opportunities will emerge as if from nowhere. Happy coincides will occur where you meet just the right person at just the right time. Ideas or answers will come to you just as you need them. A friend may make a comment, or you flip open a book or a magazine, or you may overhear a conversation which gives you just what you were looking for. Why is this so? It is because by practising forgiveness you become more open to the goodness of life, so that goodness is more able to find its way to you.
As you learn to forgive, abilities which have been dormant within you will emerge, and you will discover yourself to be a much stronger and more capable person than you previously imagined. Parts of yourself which could not thrive in the frigid soil of unforgiveness will start to grow. You will begin to let go of struggling and striving. You will find more of an easy flow and life will be a lot more pleasant and a lot more enjoyable. If this all sounds like exaggeration, then let that be for now. Simply practice the Four Steps to Forgiveness that you will find within these pages and you will be very glad that you did.
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Four Steps to Forgiveness
A powerful way to freedom, happiness and success.
William Fergus Martin