July 7 is Global Forgiveness Day. It was created in 1994 by the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors, but forgiveness applies to all people regardless of religion. It is a day to inspire the act and receiving of forgiveness.
If you are seeking spiritual or religious forgiveness, then that is between you and the Divine. I am writing about the forgiveness between humans. I love the unattributed quote, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” In other words, withholding forgiveness hurts you more than the person you are angry with.
Forgiveness is a big part of Mental Freedom®®, particularly the second lesson about the Unconditional Trust Challenge. When you recognize that everyone is doing the best they can to get what they want in any given moment, you understand that their behavior has nothing to do with you. They aren’t doing anything to you; they are behaving for themselves—to get what they want. Of course, you may not approve of what they want or what they are doing. You don’t have to like it, but to achieve Mental Freedom®, you will want to accept it.
This means that you stop judging other people. What someone else does is really none of your business. Will it affect you sometimes? Of course. And if you’re like most people, your go-to behavior will be to try to change that person to be more in line with the way you want them to be. However, if Mental Freedom® is what you desire, you will want to stop judging and accept people for who they show you they are until they consistently show you something else.
Once you accept a person with all their warts and blemishes, then you have a responsibility to decide how you want to be in relationship with them. You may decide to love them anyway, despite any perceived shortcomings you see. You may decide to stay engaged with that person but create some healthy boundaries for yourself. You may decide to completely disengage from the person. You have many options at your disposal, but to achieve Mental Freedom®, you will need to stop expecting people in your life to be who you wish them to be. Most people aren’t even aware of your hopes, dreams and desires for them, but even when they are, they tend to have their own hopes, dreams and desires they are working to accomplish.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you take the knife out of your back, clean it off and return it to the person just to turn your back to them again. Forgive them for stabbing you by letting go of any animosity you have toward them. Recognize that they did it so they could get what they wanted most in that moment and forgive them. It’s likely that hurting you wasn’t intentional but simply collateral damage from their efforts to get what they want. When you care about a person, you want them to have what they want, even if it’s painful for you.
When you experience pain at the hands of another, then you need to determine, again, how you want to proceed with the relationship. That is up to you. You can still forgive someone and decide you need to end your relationship. Forgiving means you release the animosity you have in your heart. You don’t even have to let the person know you are forgiving them unless you want to. You aren’t forgiving for them; you are doing it for yourself.
Once you let go of that grudge, you are able to begin your healing process.If you have something you need to forgive yourself for, the same process applies. Whatever you’ve been beating yourself up for, stop and recognize you were also doing the best you could with the information you had at the time to get what you wanted. If you had known a better way, you would have chosen it.
The challenge comes, sometimes years later, when you do know some better ways, but they weren’t available to you at the time. It is unfair and unhealthy to judge your former self based on who you are today. You were a different person when you did the things you regret. Trust that you did your best and stop tormenting yourself. That page in your history has already been written, and you don’t have editing rights. You need to accept your decisions as the best you had at the time; if you know a better way now, then trust that you will use that better way in the future if a similar situation presents itself.
On this Global Day of Forgiveness, who is it you need to forgive?