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Monday, June 10, 2019

Why forgiveness is essential to happiness

Last week I was so angry with someone who let me down that I stayed awake all night stewing about it. I couldn't fall asleep because in my mind I kept having various conversations with them about why I was upset. Somewhere around 4:30am, as I stared at the clock and listened to the birds start stirring outside our window, I had a realization. I don't think you can move forward into joy while you still harbor resentment. It's a like a shade blocking out light.

I realized that forgiveness was something that I needed to do for myself. It doesn't matter how well we know someone, we don't know exactly why someone does the things that he or she does. Whatever happened, happened in the past and what you or I can control is what is happening right now. You may have been wronged. It could be something minor or something that seems unforgivable. The thing is, that forgiveness doesn't mean that you have forgotten what happened. What is means is that you are letting go of the way that the hurt felt. When you are angry with someone it permeates your life. You run conversations in your head. Your other relationships suffer because you're either in such a bad mood or you are protecting your heart in case someone hurts you like that again.

Forgiving doesn't make you weak. It doesn't mean that you are accepting of someone's actions or that you don't expect more of them. When you forgive, you shake your heart out of all of those little bits of anger/sadness/frustration/disappointment that stick in your soul like angry little poppyseeds.

If someone asks for your forgiveness, if they seem sincere, give it to them. Chances are, they are embarrassed or humiliated that they caused you angst. Yes, yes, there is the chance that they either have no idea that they upset you or the did the action on purpose and they have no regret for hurting you. In this case, still forgive. You can forgive without telling someone. Forgiveness happens in your heart and radiates outward.

Mr. Rogers said "Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies that our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early I our lives." (This is one of what seems like a million things I am teaching Waverly.)

I am making the decision to forgive my friend who hurt me because I don't want to carry this hurt in my heart. I don't want this anger to keep chafing the inside of my soul like the back of a shoe on a blister.  Forgiveness is a salve. Forgive and heal. There is no downside. There is no price to forgiveness. If you think that staying angry is an answer, it isn't. Who does the anger help? Do you feel better when you're angry? No and while you may not want to continue a relationship with the person who acted thoughtlessly (maybe not now, maybe not ever),  forgiveness cleans out the negative clutter that stops you from moving forward. In the best case scenario, you and there other person move past what happened and you're stronger for it. In some cases, you move forward alone. You still have a soul/heart/mind that no longer carrying the albatross of hate.

I hope whatever or whoever you need to forgive, happens this week. I hope you have a happy week.


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