[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Adri Kyser of Inner Beauty Yoga]
“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha
This is such a juicy topic that I cannot wait to read your comments. I’m not a stranger to the process of forgiving. I have personally read, talked, heard and lived many experiences regarding this topic. The power of forgiveness is an important subject all of us should constantly remember.
Have you ever felt hurt, betrayed, disappointed or all of the above? In our lifetime, many of us have felt this way one time or another due to the words, actions or lack of action by others. Sometimes people that have hurt us don’t even know what they did. Other times, their actions were intentional and uncalled for. Regardless of the intention, we are the ones that are deeply wounded and carry the pain, hurt and anger within us. Normally, after our initial stage of being hurt (it may be a few days, weeks or even months), we try to move on with our lives and let the incident be a thing of the past. It is easier (not easy) to move past the event when we receive a heartfelt apology, but often times we don’t get an apology at all. Unfortunately, we can carry the memory of hurtful events and the feelings associated with them for a long time, taking a toll on our physical, mental and emotional health.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment and even thoughts of revenge. It is a journey to freedom from our past. Learning to forgive can lead to feelings of understanding, compassion and empathy for the one (s) who hurt us. Like Deepak Chopra says “What we don’t recognize is that holding onto resentment is like holding onto your breath. You’ll soon start to suffocate.”
Forgiveness does not change the past nor does it free the person from their responsibility of his/her wrong actions. Forgiving will not erase what happened but it can lessen the intensity on how you remember such events. Forgiveness actually frees you up from the ties that are holding you back. It opens the doors to healing and to new possibilities. Forgiveness is something we do entirely for ourselves.
One of the most common obstacles I find in the process of forgiving is that many people, deep down are expecting an apology. They want the person that hurt them to know the pain his/her actions have caused them. Some even want that person to feel the same pain. This type of thinking does not lead to freedom, inner peace and inner power. As long as you are expecting the other person to apologize or to hurt the same way you have, you are still tied to their hurtful actions. You are giving them your power and peace. You are the only one that can find freedom and strength by forgiving and cutting the ties that bound you to them and their past actions. I know it sounds really simple and easy but I know it is harder that in sounds.
Take a moment here and ask yourself these questions:
- Are you ready to be free?
- Are you ready to be happy?
- Are you ready to let go of the past?
- Are you ready to forgive?
If so, start the process of forgiveness. Here are few things that may help up.
- Be patient with yourself and don’t expect everything to be ok overnight.
- Reflect on the event, the facts, on how you’ve reacted, and how this has affected your life and well-being.
- Actively choose to forgive the person who has offended you.
- Write in a piece of paper the name of the person, the event, and your feelings.
- Then say a prayer and say you are done with holding on to this and you are finally releasing it and letting it go.
- You can burn the piece of paper as a symbolic act of burning the ties that are preventing you from living a happy, loving and peaceful life.
- If the circumstances allow it, maybe have a polite talk with the person causing you pain. This will close and complete the cycle and hopefully will give you some resolution.
- Pray for their well-being or send them positive energy. They may be going through something in their lives. This one is not as easy but it sure is powerful.
- Remember that you are not a victim and you can choose to claim back the control and power you have given consciously or unconsciously to those that have hurt you.
Of course there is also the “Power of Forgiving Ourselves” but I feel that merits a new discussion in itself.
If you have experienced successful tools or actions taken that helped you forgive, I would love to hear about it.
Adri Kyser E-RYT 500 is a Vinyasa, Prana Flow yoga teacher, and Power Pilates instructor. Adri’s classes are fun, dynamic and inspiring. During her classes, she invites you to surrender and let go of inhibitions allowing you to find your natural and innate flow, transforming your practice from a state of doing into a state of being.
You can find Adri sharing her passion for yoga by leading master classes, workshops, teacher trainings and retreats in the Dallas area and abroad. For more information please visit Inner Beauty Yoga.
Lol 😀 did you know I wrote a blog with the same title? 😉 great minds…
Great minds think alike indeed 🙂
what a wonderful and though provoking article!
Beautiful reflection and guidance, thank you _/l\_. I’ve found that the greatest obstacle to forgiveness in myself is my own unwillingness at times to sit with the pain that requires it in the first place. I’ve found the Metta phrases a profound help in the process; alternating between directing the intent towards the other party and myself, depending on what I need in order to remain with the feelings in a naked, non-judgmental state. You are right – the process has its own internal needs and time.
Thank you for sharing. Metta phrases are extremely helpful for sure.
Something that has worked for me in the past for very deep hurts was to imagine a tether binding me to that other person. I actively visualize cutting through the rope to free myself from being bound to whomever upset me. I think it helps as a reminder that you’re really tying yourself to that person by holding onto negativity and, depending on how bad the transgression, that is the last thing I want to do. I think many people don’t realize that forgiveness is more releasing yourself of the burden of the hurt than accepting the bad behavior.
That is a great visualization. Thank you so much for sharing.
This is a fabulous topic, because so many people are walking around our planet holding grudges. The quote from Deepak Chopra that says “What we don’t recognize is that holding onto resentment is like holding onto your breath. You’ll soon start to suffocate,” describes how I felt during my 11 years of marriage. I didn’t breathe for 6+ years. Thanks to yoga, I started breathing again, woke up, and let go of the resentment. Great post!
Thank you. I am glad you found your way again. Peace.
This was a perfect read for me today! I am currently studying to become a yoga instructor and have learned some valuable lessons along the way thus far. I also am a practicing Buddhists and have found a lot of the teachings have helped get through difficult situations which would have caused me more pain in the past when I wasn’t on this path.
Forgiveness is something that needs to be done more and I am guilty of having a difficult time letting go of my thoughts that bring round and rounds regarding whoever it is that I need to forgive.
One of my practices that help me through this process it realizing what my expectations are of people and how that ultimately affects me and not them. When we have expectations of others and they don’t fulfill those expectations we are the ones who become hurt. It lies within us, and not them. Once I remind myself of that, everything else becomes clear and forgiveness seems less of a trouble then it did before!
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for this article, a very good read to me. Well, at some point in my life I’ve also experienced that situation where you really wanted the other person to also feel the hurt that you feel. But then a thought always comes to mind that revenge can’t set me free and it will only leads to worst. I’m glad that eventually thinking of that I’ve forgive and let go. Now, I’m happy and feeling good about myself.
Thank you. I am glad you were able to forgive and be free 🙂
Good article! I have experienced being deeply hurt by one person; it took me years to forgive him, but then I realized that it was me who was suffering and not him. I conciously made the decision to work through the pain and forgive him. There was a day when I woke up in the morning feeling free and happy and then I realized that I had finally forgiven him. A great experience and a very liberating one too!
Thank you. I am so glad you were able to finally let go and find forgiveness.