Over the years, many unkind things have been done by the people closest to me – ranging from sexual abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, and manipulation. Eventually, the events of my life led me to become cold towards others, and for some time, I avoided social interaction at all costs.
Many of us feel anger or frustration towards someone around us, or hold onto grudges that we would greatly benefit from letting go of. I have found that forgiveness has been the most powerful tool for my own personal healing, although it is far from easy, and there are no guidelines for how to go about this.
We often say we have forgiven someone, while truly believing this, only to realize all of the pent up anger and denial we still have towards them. Those times we think negatively, or wish bad upon them after saying we forgive these people is exactly what I am talking about.
I am still working on accepting some of the worst actions against me, but I have learned a variety of tools along the way that I utilize often. When we notice ourselves slipping into an array of negativity or poor thoughts about these people, we can dive into our tool box and work on pulling ourselves out of the downward spiral.
Among the most important lessons I have learned is that often times our anger towards others harms us much more than it affects them. The path to forgiveness allows us to take back our Power and control over the matter, allowing us to rise above the other and move on with our lives in a positive way.
Meanwhile, we know that the other person is suffering all on their own because of their actions. No action by us can cause them to suffer more, nor should we want that.
Inner Child Meditation
I know it can be hard to remember, but each and every one of us was once a small child. We have all been hurt, traumatized, or neglected. When all we may have wanted was love, we received the opposite. All of us have suffered in some way, and unfortunately, most adults are still carrying this pain around with them, acting as if they are that nine year old boy bullied viciously in school.
I find that visualizing certain people as a small child standing in front of me allows my anger to transform into feelings of compassion and empathy. I envision them in their most vulnerable state, reaching out for love but only receiving more hurt. Most often, they are crying or appear frightened.
Hurt people hurt people. That is as simple as it gets. And, until we are healed completely we may continue to take our distress out on those around us. Remember this fact as you move forward, and your view of some of the most difficult people in your life will soon transform.
Ho’oponopono Prayer – “I’m sorry, I love you. Please forgive me, Thank you.”
I stumbled upon this prayer back in 2014 when I was going through a breakup after seven years on and off together. I had fought the inevitable for two years prior, but finally understood that no matter what the consequences, I had to kick my then-boyfriend out of the house and begin a new way of life. I was depressed, had developed a drinking problem, and became a shell of the person I once was.
Repeating this prayer in my head over and over helped me diminish the guilt I felt leaving his side. We had both come from traumatic childhoods and families, and I felt a great deal of responsibility for his wellbeing.
When learning this prayer, I also read about a psychologist named Dr. Hew Len who had practiced reciting this while looking over files of mentally ill patients without them knowing. After some time, these patients began to change dramatically and began to heal. In healing his view of them, the patients themselves were able to heal.
This stood out and first helped me to understand the Power of our energy and the thoughts we believe about ourselves, and about others. We play a huge part in the creation of the world around us, including the people and experiences we have.
A Kneeling Visualization
Another mindfulness practice I once learned is to visualize yourself kneeling down in front of the person that causes you pain, anger or frustration. In doing so, you are bringing yourself down to their level – below them even – to acknowledge their humanity. I find this meditation calms my negative thoughts almost immediately.
In practicing reverence to those that have harmed us, we are able to acknowledge our positive traits, quickly changing how we feel. Rising to the level of a hurtful person does nothing but make us feel worse about ourselves. Realizing that we are not like them, and are actually the opposite (caring, compassionate, kind to anyone – even those who have harmed us) allows us to feel empowered and crave more of these beneficial feelings in future interactions.
Forgiveness is by far the hardest practice to master, but it is also the most healing. Many of our greatest problems and heartaches can be transformed through this act, if we are willing to rise above the anger we may feel.