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From Baggage to Bliss: Mastering the Art of Forgiveness for a Fulfilling Life

One powerful thing that we can do for ourselves is to forgive. Today, I'm going to talk to you about four things that forgiveness is and four things that forgiveness is not. I like to think about a duffel bag that you put in an overhead compartment in an airplane. Over the years, that bag gets filled up with fears, disappointments, hurt, and mean things that people have done to us and said to us. The bag gets heavier and it's okay to carry that bag around for a while. But eventually, it just gets too heavy and too full and there's no room for joy, laughter, fun, excitement, and love. Forgiveness allows us to take those feelings of pain, hurt, and sadness out of the bag one by one, and leave room and space for all the good that can come into our lives.

Forgiveness is like a magical potion that just helps us to ease our bodies and our minds. It relieves physical tensions and ailments from our bodies, helps to clear our minds, and brings clarity into our lives. Forgiveness is about an expansion of the duffel bag and an expansion of our lives. It expands the duffel bag, and rather than this ugly thing that takes up so much space, it allows light into the situation. It's not always easy to forgive. Some of the hurts that have been done to us are so painful that we don't want to forgive. We want an apology. We want that person to hurt as much as we hurt. But it doesn't work that way.

When we don't forgive and we live in that pain and shame, we're disempowering ourselves and empowering the other person. When we forgive and we learn to forgive, we empower ourselves and we can let go of the shame, the blame, and the hurt and leave space for the joy, the happiness, the love, and the possibilities that are all there for you to experience.

So what are the four things that forgiveness is not? 

  1. Forgiveness is not denying the wrong that someone has done to you. It's not saying that it didn't happen. It's not saying that it doesn't hurt. It's not trying to brush it under the carpet or pretend it doesn't exist or didn't happen. 

  1. Forgiveness is not contingent upon an apology. Forgiveness is for you. Forgiveness is something that you give to yourself. But it doesn't mean that you will ever receive an apology. It doesn't mean that the other person will ever apologize. 

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting. You know the adage, “Forgive and forget”. That's not true. We don't forget when we forgive, we release. We let go. We take control of our lives. We don't let that hurt, that blame, and that shame that is caused by someone else be a part of who we are. So forgiveness is not expecting or accepting an apology. 

  1. Forgiveness is not reconciling. When you forgive someone, it doesn't mean that you want to be a part of their life again. It doesn't mean that you want to get back together the way it used to be. It doesn't mean that you want to hang out with them again. You create boundaries around your relationship with that person. But it is not about reconciling. 

So what is forgiveness? 

  1. Forgiveness is like canceling a debt. I'm releasing you of the burden of paying me back for something. So you're canceling the debt. 

  1. Forgiveness is an ongoing practice. You may decide to forgive someone who's hurt you in your life and may later realize, you haven't quite forgiven them. And how can you know this? Well, tap into your heart, your mind, and your body. Look at what you are thinking. If you’re thinking and ruminating about things that bother you about that person, then you still have work to do. Another area to tap into is your heart. How do you feel when you think about that person? Do you wish that something bad would happen to them? And how does your body feel when you think about that person? Do you feel tight? Do you feel agitated? So listen to your body. Listen to your mind. Listen to your heart. And if anything is not quite right, then you probably have some work to do. 

  1. Forgiveness is not wanting ILL for the offender. When you no longer wish wrong towards that person, you're not revengeful or angry towards them. Forgiveness is not wanting that. Forgiveness is removing the emotional control that that person has over you. Forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself. It clears space in your mind. It opens your heart. It calms your body. And it's a practice that's worth doing. 

So if you've been hurt, this might be a practice worth considering. Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. It's not, “I forgive them and it's over”. Think about the four things that forgiveness is and the four things that forgiveness isn't. Know that if you're trying, you're on the right path. As soon as you can think about that person and you don't feel anything negative, then your work is done for the day. 

And remember, you are loved. You are worthy. You are perfect just the way that you are. 




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