Today is the birthday of a friend and client… You will ask: So what? I’ll use it as an opportunity to speak about an old lesson that I once again realized. He was one of the first people that I met in Los Angeles, with a great career and huge professional success. He lived isolated in a large villa and was a workaholic. He had certain issues with his childhood and with his wife who had left him and I was helping him reduce certain addictions. At one point we became very close friends and I lost track of the limit between healer and client. I really wanted to help him understand the meaning of true love which is forgiveness. I thought that if he could forgive, he would be able to rid himself of the past that burdened him. He was unable to forgive people who hurt him ever since he was little: no one and nothing.
He wouldn’t free his heart from the burden and sadness of any little thing; even of kids who had hurt him in elementary school. I was so intrigued by this that I wanted to investigate it, to comprehend it, to heal it. It was a futile effort and a great lesson. This person remained a loner. He let himself stew in his own juice. He isolated himself for fear that someone might hurt him again. He built a great wall around him and became a monster for anyone who did not know him. His reputation was that of a ruthless, unbending, hard and heartless man. Those who did business with him feared him.
Deep inside, however, he was a hurt and unloved child in fear who would sit alone on his couch, eat lollipops and watch cartoons. What a contrast! No matter how much I worked with him, I could not help him forgive anyone including himself. In the end, after I allowed myself to be very troubled by this situation, I realized that you cannot help someone who does not want to be helped. If you insist, you will be the one who will be hurt.
I observe people on a daily basis, friends, acquaintances, clients and many others on Facebook expressing so much anger, communicating so much bitterness, judging others so severely… The only thing that I would like to tell them is to open up their heart and rid themselves of the pain. I see people who are so stuck on the past and on their pain that they allow it to poison their life and sometimes even the lives of those around them. Nothing can make us more miserable than continuing to dwell on the past; wasting our mental and emotional energy on past disappointments or exaggerated positive memories of illusional “glorious days gone by.” Dwelling on to our pain is our cage, our suffering.
What problems does this pain cause us? Does it affect our relationship with this person or with others? Does it affect work or family? Does it stop us from pursuing our dreams, or becoming a better person? Does it make us unhappy? We need to think of all these problems, and realize what we need to change. Then we need to think of the benefits of forgiveness — how it will make us happier, free us from the past and the pain; improve our relationships and life in general. Life is too short to waste it living in the past. We need to commit to letting go. Perhaps we cannot do it in an instant or in a day. It may take time to get over something. So we should commit to changing because we recognize that the pain is hurting us. If we want to fly higher and to get rid of whatever weighs us down we need to let go of those things that no longer serve us: Our past fears; our fixed or limited beliefs; a certain behavior or habit; or perhaps the expectations of others… Acceptance is the first step to letting go and to setting ourselves free. First of all, we need to forgive our self, because we all do stupid things. We should accept our history and the people that have been a part of it; accept our circumstances and remember that none of these define us. We should keep reminding our self that we are human. We’re entitled to make mistakes; everyone does! And we will learn from them and use those lessons to improve our life. We also need to keep in mind that if we want to feel love again in the future, the first step is to prepare our self to give and to receive it. We can only do that if we feel love toward our self; and that means forgiving our self.
Forgive and Let Go of Anger! Forgiveness does not mean that we erase the past or forget what happened; it doesn’t even mean that the other person will change his behavior; we have absolutely no control on that. All it means is that we let go of the anger and pain and move on to a better and healthier place.
We need to empathize and try this: Put our self in that person’s shoes and try to understand why he did what he did, starting from the assumption that the person isn’t bad, but just did something wrong. What was he thinking, what could have happened to him in the past to make him do what he did? What was he feeling as he did it and afterwards? How does he feel now? We are not saying that his action is right; instead we are trying to understand and to empathize.
Personally, I always try to imagine every individual that I meet as a child: Innocent, beautiful, and fragile. How did life, people, or circumstances harm them somehow? When I think of that, my anger diffuses. To be honest, this has helped me through the years to forgive people and to overcome certain situations.
Really! We should try to imagine the person that hurt us as a little child and say to ourselves: “What happened to him or her that made them do what they did to me?” This question and this image will soften us and will also make us be less tough and more forgiving to ourselves …
As an extension of letting go of the past, forgiveness is a good tool for letting go of negativity; it is also the perfect medicine for washing off emotional pain. Another important mental tool is to focus on the present. Now that we’ve reflected on it, we realize that the past is over. It isn’t happening anymore, except in our mind. And that causes problems — unhappiness and stress. Instead, we bring our focus back to the present moment. What are we doing now? What joy can we find in what is happening right now? What is the most important thing right now? We need to be connected and engaged with the Now. We have soooo much to do today and in the near future! Thinking of how to create a positive near future is wise. Focusing on the present and enjoying the now is even wiser. After all, the present time is the only reality that exists. If I do not empty my closet from the old clothes where should I put my new ones? “I forgive” means that I progress, I choose, I am in control of my life, I refuse to submit to a life that I did not choose; I can rewrite it just the way I like it. And guess what? I have the power to do so. Yeah!!! Being able to let go, to forgive and to move on is a great power because it makes us realize the force, the glory, the divine being within us; the ability to create the life that we want based on love and peace of mind.
We know that we have a choice. We cannot control the actions of others, and shouldn’t try. But we can control our own actions and our thoughts. We have that power. We just need to learn how to exercise it.
Love and Forgiveness are synonymous: You cannot talk about love unless you forgive!
Being unforgiving only hurts us and no-one else. Instead we should let love wash out the situation and cleanse us inside out.
P.S. The Universe works in miraculous ways! Just as I had finished writing this article and was preparing to publish it, the old friend who inspired it contacted me. We spoke for a long time and it became clear to me that my coaching did not go in vain after all! It may have taken him longer than I expected, but eventually the person made a breakthrough and was able to forgive and to start moving forward. This made me realize that it is never too late. But this will be the topic of another article!