What is forgiveness? What does it mean to forgive? Does it mean letting go? Does it mean accepting what has happened and moving forward? Who is forgiveness for anyway? Is it for you or for the person that has wronged you?
There is not one person who has not been hurt or wronged by someone and been given the opportunity to forgive that person. On the other side, there is not one person who has not hurt or wronged someone and has asked for forgiveness.
What makes people different when it comes to forgiveness? What makes some people get over things quicker than others? I believe it is the ability to see that each person, whether the one who wronged or the one who was wronged, is not defined by the mistake that was made or the pain that was caused. We are all more than that. We are multi faceted creatures with the capacity to love, hate, forgive, hold grudges, stay stuck or move on. Each one of these characteristics that we share as humans have one thing in common, we the individual have 100% control over which one we chose to feel in a situation. Don’t allow the situation to control your feelings. Take control of your feelings and how you let them affect you.
With that being said, I am not saying that forgiveness is easy. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things that you can do, especially when that person you need to forgive is you, but it is also the most freeing. Hate, regret, holding a grudge, choosing not to forgive is a poison that is only harming you. You need to make the choice to free yourself from the grips of anger and the grips of the past that are holding you back and learn to live for today.
If it is you that you cannot forgive you have to learn that the past can be very powerful if you let it. It cannot be changed but can and does affect your present and your future. You have to learn to keep your past in the past, learn from it and learn to live in the present knowing that you are worth the forgiveness. Know that you are not your mistakes. You are a person who makes mistakes but you are also a person who many other qualities that outweigh your mistakes.
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone who has wronged you, I ask for you to be empathetic. Empathy is not just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, it is about seeing yourself in that person. It is seeing that person for who they truly are and their intentions. It is about understanding that they, like you, are not their mistakes. They are a person who is not perfect and makes mistakes but who, like you, has many qualities that outweigh their mistakes. It is also important to understand intention. Did they intend to hurt you? Could it be possible that there are other things going on in their life that you are not aware of that could affect the decisions they make? Know that you don’t know everything. Focus on yourself, your ability to heal, your ability to forgive, and your ability to move on.
The take away from this Mondays with Mooney is to focus on yourself and your ability to forgive, whether the forgiveness is for yourself or someone else. Free yourself from the chains of hate, hurt, anger, and regret. Free yourself from the past and learn to enjoy the present and intend on living a better future. The past has one purpose and that is to teach. Use the past for what it can provide you and then leave it where it belongs.
I seek comfort and understanding in the meaning of forgiveness in the Pearl Jam song “Present Tense” :
“You can spend your time alone redigesting past regrets or you can come to terms and realize you’re the only one who can forgive yourself. . . then several lines down the point hits home with when the refrain repeats with one word change “You can spend your time alone redigesting past regrets or you can come to terms and realize you’re the only one who CANNOT forgive yourself.”
I think that where many of us get stuck in our desire to move forward is understanding that it is no one’s responsibility or role to forgive us, we must forgive ourselves. Once we realize that we have such power, moving forward becomes easier.
I challenge you this week to stop redigesting your past, accept that you made mistakes but those mistakes got you to where you are today and forgive yourself so you can move forward and as Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam states “It makes much more sense to live in the present tense.”