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Letting go in the New Year: 4 Steps to Forgiving

“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change.  Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you.  Love them and release them.  Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.”

-Sara Paddison I hope you are enjoying the New Year and all the good New Year energy.  I have been spending the last week saying good-bye and letting go of 2015 as well as preparing for 2016.    The last few years there has been some unsettling occurrences that basically tore my family apart.  I just wanted to share with you my thoughts about forgiveness and how I was able to work though my anger and sadness towards certain family members and finally forgive and let go.    This is such a great time to talk about Forgiveness and letting go being the beginning of the year.  I like to think of each year of our lives as a new book. “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”  Denise Linn So let's imagine we have this beautiful brand new  book with 300 plus blank pages and we can write whatever we want in this book. Sounds exciting to me.  It might be difficult to get excited about your beautiful new book if you are still holding on to past hurts, people, or situations that no longer serve you.   I broke it down into 4 steps that I took that really helped me to forgive the people I needed to forgive. Step one:  Be willing   I know sometimes we don’t want to forgive because we feel if we forgive that person, or situation then we are saying to the world and ourselves that their action was acceptable. That is NOT the case at all. Forgiving does not change the wrong act and it doesn’t magically make it ok, it just releases you from your self imposed prison.  Forgiveness also does not mean that you need to have a relationship with the person who hurt you but it DOES mean you let it go and stop hurting yourself by rethinking about the event over and over. Step two: Talk it out    Whether you decide to talk it out with the person who you feel wronged you or talk it out with a trusted friend, a therapist, or perhaps a Priest, or Rabbi, sometimes just talking it through helps.  Talking with an impartial party would probably be best.  Sometimes we are so angry or hurt that if we talk it out with someone who truly loves us, their goal will be to comfort and agree with us, which might fan the flames instead of extinguishing them.    If you do decide to talk it out with the person you perceived wronged you, try not to accuse them but focus more on how the actions made you feel, you might find that they didn’t even realize that they hurt you and they might actually want to be forgiven, or they may be completely unconscious about their actions and think you are to blame.  Try to be open minded and OWN your part of the situation.  If you decide to talk it out with the person be prepared to be ok with whatever the outcome.    Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean they have to acknowledge that or care, remember this isn’t really about them, it is about your thoughts and feelings about them and the situation.  You never even have to tell them you forgive them if you choose not to. Step three: Write it out    For those of you who don’t journal, I highly recommend it, it can be very therapeutic and sometimes you might find yourself coming up with thoughts and ideas that seemingly come out of no where but they were inside you all along.  You can also write a hypothetical letter to the person or situation that you are trying to forgive or an actual letter.    In my situation I wrote an actual letter.  I noticed a comment on facebook that a family member made that was a clear “dig” towards my parents, my first reaction was to ignore it and let it go but I just couldn’t, I was up the entire night fuming.  My mind wouldn’t shut off and all I could think of was all the horrible things that this family member had said and done to my family.    I woke up the next morning and drafted the nastiest email and as I was putting my finishing touches on this fabulous F.U. letter I heard the words in my head of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, “If you have the opportunity to be right, or to be kind, always choose kindness.”  I made another choice, I choose kindness, I wrote to her how unfortunate it was that this event occurred in our family and how we all think we are right and that we all did our best with what we are equipped with.  I told her I was working really hard on sending her love and forgiveness and I didn't want to hold on to the anger or hurt anymore.  After I hit the send button, I felt this amazing weight lift off of my shoulders, I didn’t want or expect a response I just felt better.  That was the point.  I found it to be very therapeutic.  Unfortunately she did respond and the basic gist of the response was, that she was angry and she was going to continue to be angry but she respects my feelings on the topic and wishes me spiritual well-beings always. After sending my letter, there were moments of negative thoughts about this family member that would creep into my mind but I would consciously choose another thought, sending this family member love and forgiveness.  It wasn’t always easy, it was a process, but it was worth it.   To be clear I didn’t write the email to mend fences, forgiveness doesn’t mean things go back to normal, I just wanted to share my thoughts and maybe in some way to inspire her to let go as well.    Make sure if you decide to "write it out" or "talk it out" to the actual person that you check your motives first.  The truth is you DON'T need to tell anyone that you are forgiving them for the process to work. Step four: Meditate  As Deepak Chopra will tell you, meditation is really the answer to any problem you are having.  We are wise spiritual beings and we have the answers to our problems but there is so much noise in our world that we become disconnected.    Start a meditation practice by sitting in silence for 5 minutes every morning, and then increase from there.  Put on some calming mediation music or you can youtube some guided mediations.  Gabrielle Bernstein has some great mediations on forgiveness in her book Spirit Junkie.    When I was trying to forgive my family members I sat in meditation and added some visualization along with it.  I would visualize happy memories I had of these family members until I felt a warm fuzzy feeling in my chest or heart chakra and then I would send them love.  It made me feel better and lighter. Some other things I learned about forgiveness: It’s not personal    A few years back I read an amazing little book called the Four Agreements, I highly recommend it.  One of the agreements in the book is Don't take anything personally.  We tend to think that other people are hurting us consciously or saying things directed at us personally but they’re not.    Most of the time we are all just thinking about ourselves and how things are affecting us.  If someone thinks you’re an a$$hole that doesn’t actually make you an a$$hole.  That is their perception of what an a$$hole is and that doesn’t change you one way or another because while that person is sitting there thinking negatively towards you, someone else thinks you are pretty great. Holding on hurts    Being a Massage Therapist I have the experience of working with many different people who are in pain.  Not all people that are in pain necessarily have a physical reason for the pain.    What I mean is everyone who has back pain doesn’t necessarily have a herniated disc or actual injury.  Often time pain in the body is caused by our emotions, tension or stress.  Dr. John Sarno, M.D. talks about this phenomenon in his book The Mind Body Prescription.  Holding on to past transgressions and not forgiving WILL show up in a physical manifestation.   It could show up as neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, stomach ulcers, hair loss, lack of sleep, and so much more.   Do yourself a favor, work on forgiving whomever you feel has wronged you, even if you yourself are the one you need to forgive.   I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog and welcome your comments about how forgiveness has changed your life or how not forgiving has affected your life.  If you found this blog helpful, please share it.  

   Below please find a video of Antoine Leiris talking about how he is choosing to focus on love, life, and freedom instead of hating the horrible Paris attackers that sadly killed his beloved wife and mother of his son.  An incredibly inspiring video.


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