The Act of Forgiveness
Ever notice how when someone you strongly dislike walks into a room and your entire mood changes?
That's typically because we don't realize how much energy goes into "holding a grudge". We give people power over our emotions when we do not forgive. We allow them to impact our mood, energy and peace without notice and at any moment.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned in this life is forgiveness. I used to believe that forgiving was simply to make the other party feel better about his/her wrong doing, but that's only because I didn't understand how much impact the act of forgiveness had on my peace of mind. I didn't understand that my spirit craved that release.
In this life, most often we put so much focus on things that we don't need or things that hinder us from true growth, instead of focusing on bettering ourselves.
The act of forgiveness costs us nothing.
The act of love costs us nothing.
It's the things that are free that have such powerful influence on our psyche.
So how do you forgive?
Sounds like a simple question, but most of us have the hardest time performing the act of forgiveness. So here are some simple steps that help with this process.
Step One: Release the Expectation
In order to start the process of forgiving we must actively release the expectation of the conversation, confrontation or argument.
The expectation is "how you thought the situation should have went".
In our minds we establish a perception of how the individual should have "responded" to our thought, complaint, concern or issue. And when that individual does not respond as we "anticipate", we find ourselves caught in the idea of what should have been. Also known as the "unexpected", which causes us to lose control of our response, because the situation doesn't go as we planned.
However, in order to forgive, we must let go of that expectation so that we can be come objective in identifying the problem.
Sometimes releasing the expectation will allow us to skip straight to Step Five. And that's because typically our concern was not worth the argument in the first place. Especially if we find that all we were really arguing about was the fact that the other person did not "act" or "respond" the way we "wanted" or "anticipated.
Step Two: Identify the Problem
Step two sounds easy enough, but we sometimes have a hard time objectively identifying why we are even mad in the first place.
Some questions to consider:
What did you hope to accomplish from the conversation/confrontation?
Did you accomplish that goal?
Did your feelings get hurt?
Are you mad because you didn't get your way?
Is/Was the other party unreasonable?
Are they not listening to you?
Are they not identifying with your concerns, feelings, etc.?
Did you identify with his/her concern, feelings or issue?
These are just a few questions you should ask yourself when trying to determine the root of the issue. Identifying the root of the issue prepares you to take ownership of your part in the matter.
Step Three: Take Ownership of Your Role
We must understand that there is more than one party involved in a disagreement or argument. Therefore we must be able to accept our role.
Some questions to consider:
Did you initiate the argument?
Did you overreact?
Did you misunderstand the other party's intent?
Did you project a closed off demeanor or lack of interest in the other party's concern?
Did you have unrealistic expectations of the other party?
These questions assist with identifying what role you played in the miscommunication of feelings, emotions or concerns. Once you become aware of the problem, you can accept your role in the matter.
Acceptance allows you to gain clarity on whether the argument and/or grudge was even necessary. This will also call attention to your deficiencies, so that you can be proactive in avoiding them in future situations. Things that you can actively work on to become better at managing how you respond when confronted.
Step Four: Apologize for Your Role
No matter with whom, what, when or where a grudge initiated or argument started, there is something you can be held accountable for in that argument. Consider whether you allowed it to escalate; whether your demeanor provoked or caused the argument, whether you were looking for a particular response that you did not receive or whether you had unrealistic expectations of the other party. Because all of these things play a role in causing or escalating an argument/grudge. Once you take ownership of YOUR behavior, you can be objective in understanding why the other party may have responded in the way he/she did.
But until you identify your role and apologize for it, you will not be sympathetic to the other party's feelings.
Step Five: Acceptance
The final step in the act of forgiveness is acceptance.
Regardless to whether the other party successfully completes each step of this process, we have to be willing to accept the end result. That includes recognition and acceptance of the fact that we may never accomplish what we set out to accomplish.
We must also accept that the other party may never understand our point of view, or apologize for his/her own actions. Knowing this allows you to accept that putting anymore energy into the grudge, individual or argument is useless.
In the event the other party completes all of the aforementioned steps, we must be ready to accept that what the other party takes from the confrontation, argument or issue may no be what we intended.
We have to remember we can't always make someone see our point. We have to accept that they may never get it.
Once we accept one of these scenarios we can forgive completely and let go of trying to control the outcome.
Forgiveness is about releasing control to gain control of your peace and sanity.
Accept and let go of the things you can not change, and you keep the energy you use trying to control them. Simple as that.