I always found it crazy to know that every person I walk by, drive-by, or, are in acquaintance with, are facing their own battles in life. What we see is usually a masked appearance and that is why we are constantly reminded to be patient and kind to one another – stranger and friend. That’s the thing though, we ALL have baggage. Baggage that weighs us down; Baggage that we continue to carry; Baggage that we want to let go of; and, Baggage that hinders us from moving forward in life.
This baggage that we carry actually means that we are dwelling on the past. It could be someone who’s done you wrong. It could be a situation that left you hurt and disappointed. It could be something so little that you’ve allowed to fester within you and now it’s a much bigger deal than it should be. Either way, dwelling on the past ignites parts of us that hold anger and darkness. It’s definitely easier to go through scenarios in your head of ‘what happened’ and ‘what could / should have happened’ instead of practicing forgiveness.
I want to share 10 lessons that I have learned when it comes to not dwelling on the past and moving forwards, towards full and real forgiveness:
- Just like any other skill, we can learn how to forgive by practicing reflection. When reflecting, you allow yourself to learn from hurtful and disappointing situations. Reflection actually gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos. Being able to put your ego aside and reflect results in growth, maturity, and most importantly, inner peace.
- There are always 2 sides to a story. Just because you’ve felt that you have been wronged, doesn’t mean that you are 100% in the right. I think what we tend to forget is that there is always another side to every situation. Maybe you need to take a step back or get off your high horse to accept this.
- Learning to let go is NOT easy. And you know what? You don’t need to go through this process alone. Ask for help! Every time our minds wander and think about the past, we get stuck in this never-ending cycle. We need to learn how to let go of certain thoughts that don’t benefit us. Find someone who can help you. There are so many resources out there and people who you can talk to. #NormalizeTherapy!!!
- You have full control of your thoughts & actions. It may not seem like it but we do have full control over how we react and respond to an individual or situation. In fact, a lot of our own unhappiness comes from the fake stories we tell ourselves. It’s important to become more aware of these stories in order to deal with them and let them go.
- Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting but it means that you CHOOSE to forgive them. You are the only one who can make this choice.
- Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s a DECISION to not live in the past.
- You are able to forgive someone even if they haven’t apologized or may never will. Don’t get tired of being the bigger person. Besides, the choice to forgive will happen more than once in this lifetime.
- Feelings of hurt and anger return due to triggers that we may not even be aware of at the moment, but they need to be dealt with properly and there may be different ways to deal with it each time. Just don’t let your anger bottled up inside, festering until the point that it ruins you.
- Some relationships stay broken. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean that everything is made right again or that things can go back to normal as they were before. This outcome sucks yes, but sometimes you need to create boundaries to protect yourself and not be repeatedly victimized. If the important part for you is to be civil, then you can leave it at that!
- When you are ready to forgive that person, remember to start forgiving yourself too. I think this is sometimes one of the hardest types of forgiveness we experience. But, we are all human. Therefore, we are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. Mistakes that we don’t intend to make. We ALL need grace and we ALL need to be able to give grace to others who have done us wrong.
So moral of this lesson? Forgiving someone is a choice – YOUR choice. You are the only one with the power to let it go. It doesn’t mean that you will forget what happened or what that person did/said/made you feel but, it shows strength, resilience, and the maturity of your character. It shows that you are able to rise from whatever happened to you or hurt you in the past, giving yourself the gift of mindfulness & inner peace.
Be kind, always.
Be understanding, always.