Forgiveness - How It Will Change Your Life

by C Pratt

“I’m going to die alone with 33 cats. And I don't even like cats."

I overheard this comment while I was waiting for my tea at the local coffee shop. And with a statement like that, I just had to turn to look at the speaker. She was a beautiful woman probably in her late 20’s sitting at a nearby table with one of her girlfriends.

From what I could gather, this lovely young woman had once again freaked when someone got too interested in her and had ended a relationship.

“I don’t know why I do this,” she groaned to her friend.

I don’t usually listen to other people’s conversations but sometimes it happens. I mean really, is it my fault that the only unoccupied table happened to be the one next to them? Anyway, interestingly enough, they then started discussing her recent trip to visit her family and how she felt that they’d almost completely ignored her the entire time. She’d traveled a long way to visit them and in return they’d left her at home to watch tv while they went out. It had been devastatingly hurtful to her.

“Bingo,” I thought. “Her past is haunting her future. That’s most likely why she’s having relationship problems.” My guess is that she feels her family doesn’t value her so how could anyone else think she’s wonderful when they don’t? Rejection by family is especially hard because that is the one relationship you tend to believe is unconditional. A hundred people could tell you, "You are the most incredible person in the world" but it's that one rejection by a family member that you'll hold on to for your self image. You end up subconsciously thinking it’s better to push others away before they discover that terrible secret that only your family knows. That you’re not worth it. Of course this isn’t true but once the ideas are formed in your mind it’s difficult to move beyond them.

My guess would be that she’s never forgiven her parents for how she feels they’ve treated her and for her low self esteem. I’m sure the incident she spoke of was just one in many such events throughout her life. Her whole self image is now wrapped up in this resentment that she holds. I didn’t say it to her but the sad thing is that she’s doomed to continue following the same pattern in all her relationships until she changes herself through her thoughts. No guy is ever going to make it past her barriers until she does. It’s not her actions that will change the situation, it's her thoughts and her beliefs about herself. And in order to change her thinking, she needs to start with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is Critical For Your Self Image

\You need to forgive everyone who’s ever done anything to you for which you still feel resentment. This is something you do for yourself, not the other person. When you think about it, whatever that person did to you wasn’t about you at all. It was totally about them and how they view the world.

Just like in the above example, her parents’ behaviour didn’t have anything to do with her. It was about them. They were doing what they thought was the right thing to do. Just like in whatever you do, you do it because you think it’s the correct decision at that moment. Later on, you might think it wasn’t the best choice, but at that particular point in time, it was what you thought was the best action to take. You were doing your best in the situation with whatever knowledge you had at the time. This is what everyone does.

So, even though, we may not agree with it, they’re doing what they think is the best decision for them. And she may not like how her parents treat her but they're probably doing the best they know how. Parents aren’t perfect yet we want them to be. They’re where we got our self image from, they need to be perfect.

It’s a big shift in consciousness when you realize someone else's actions and opinions do not make you the person you are. Only you can do that. You get to decide what you think about yourself but until you forgive that other person, you won’t be able to get beyond the initial resentment.

Let me confess a secret here. I used to feel that I just wasn’t “good enough” because my parents didn’t always have a lot of time for me when I was a child. As I reveal in “How to Be Good Enough or What I Learned From Barney the Dog”, it was simply a matter of looking at the situation from a different perspective that enabled me to finally move beyond that destructive self image.

True Forgiveness

I've heard it said in a lot of places that "True forgiveness is when you can say thank you for giving me that experience." I can see this working in some situations. For example, you get fired from a job and this leads you to realizing that you need to go back to school to get more relevant skills or that you need to change your attitude. In cases like this the initial bad experience turns out to have a silver lining and it ends up changing your life for the positive.

I don't think it works in more severe cases. For example, if you've been abused in some way. I can still see that valuable skills and knowledge can be gained from the experience which might be helpful in the future but it's always felt wrong to me to say that I need to be grateful for having the experience in the first place. 

The book, The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You

by Karla McLaren has a great solution to this so you can forgive those people that damaged your soul. She says to say, "I see that you were doing what worked for you at the time, but it never, ever worked for me!" This allows you to gain enough forgiveness so you can mentally move on and free yourself.

As Wes Cooper says in his book, The Astonishing Power of Gratitude

“For this reason, every area of your life where you can’t or won’t forgive is a blockage in the flow of your success. The only way to unblock it is to be willing to release the person or situation with gratitude for what they brought you.” And “... then we have cut the chains of resentment that tied them to us and we are free to move on.”

It's being able to let go of the destructive emotions like resentment which is the key. Resentment will poison you so you need to work on letting the emotion flow through you and then releasing it.

It's not about condoning what the other person did. It's about processing the emotions that are keeping you trapped in the negative mindset.

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself

Once you’re able to forgive you'll probably also discover that you've been provided a great gift of knowledge. You will have learnt something in that experience that you can use to become a stronger or better person. Something good can come out of that negative situation and you can truly become grateful for the experience. As I talked about in my article “The Game of Opposites – How to Instantly Deal With Frustration” every situation has no meaning until you give it one. It can be “good” or it can be “bad” and the only person that gets to decide that is you. If you decide to choose “good” then it changes your whole focus to one of being positive and this opens your mind to new opportunities. You’ll start using your experiences as stepping stones to achieving what you really want. Otherwise those past experiences will forever hinder you and you will continue to have resistance to certain things in your life. This will make it difficult to get what you want and it can even prevent you from moving towards those desires.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Future

Forgiveness is the first step in changing your thoughts which will end up completely changing yourself and your entire life. It will be at that moment, that you will suddenly be free. It’ll feel like this huge weight has suddenly been lifted off of you. The alternative if you insist on holding on to those past resentments, will be as this quote by Malachy McCourt reveals, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s absolutely your choice. Forgive, be grateful, and move on. It’s the only way to be truly free and to become the complete and whole beautiful soul you were meant to be. You can do it.

This is what I wish I could have told the girl in the coffee shop so that she doesn’t feel that she’s going to die alone with those 33 cats. Instead, I finished my tea and left.

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