There was a woman who had come to me feeling very down and stuck in her life. She wanted to lose weight and dreamed of finding a different career. I was excited to help her develop goals, hold her accountable and to find her way to a happier life. The problem? Every time we scheduled a meeting, she spent the entire time bitter, angry and talking about her ex-husband. One would have thought the wounds were fresh and the divorce recent based on the resentment and how much it controlled her life. When I finally asked her how long it had been, I was shocked to learn that her marriage had ended ten years before. TEN YEARS!!! That is a long time to be carrying all of that baggage on your back; a bag filled with anger, hate, bitterness, blame, hurt, sadness and resentment. Wow. No wonder she was stuck in her life and feeling so unhappy and miserable.
It became very clear to me in that coffee shop on a very chilly November day that this poor woman would stay stuck in the past and struggle to find peace if she did not first learn to forgive. Losing weight and changing careers would have to wait.
Sadly, millions of people live life in a fog struggling to live their best life and to truly find happiness and joy. Why? Because they cannot forgive. In fairness, forgiving is one of the hardest things for people to do and it does not matter if it is forgiving others or forgiving oneself. Unfortunately, an inability to forgive can lead to major issues in life and can keep people stuck in the very place they no longer want to be…the past. Here are a few reminders on WHY it is so important to forgive:
- When people cannot forgive, it acts like a heavy anchor hanging around their necks weighing them down and making it difficult to move through life in peace. Forgiving can release that anchor and people will feel free from the burdens that once weighed them down.
- An inability to forgive can lead to feelings and emotions that are toxic to our lives leaving us vulnerable to health issues both mentally and physically.
- Remember, forgiveness does not excuse the person’s behavior. It is okay to feel hurt, upset and to want the person to be accountable but there is never a guarantee that the other person will own anything.
- Forgiveness is not always about the other person. It is a gift for YOU.
- When we cannot forgive, it gives the other person tremendous power over our lives and more than likely, they have since moved on and long ago. Forgiving will empower you and you can reclaim your life.
- It is easy to hold grudges and to blame but all of these negative emotions lead us down dead-end streets. Don’t get caught in the blame game.
- Let go. You have the strength to forgive and move on. Your heart will thank you for it.
- It is impossible to focus on the future and to move forward when you are constantly looking behind you. Stop looking back and put your energy towards your goals and living a happier life.
- The past does not define you. You can learn from the past and any mistakes made. It is sometimes out of our mistakes that we find the wisdom to grow and live our best lives.
- Love yourself enough to forgive. You deserve to be happy and to live life in peace. It is when we forgive that we are able to sleep much better at night.
Forgiving is hard and sadly, some people spend their entire lives stuck in the past and unable to let go. We have all been hurt and we have all made mistakes but it is truly the people who can find forgiveness in their hearts that are able to live a life filled with happiness, peace and the freedom to pursue their dreams. If you are struggling to forgive someone or to forgive yourself, truly ask yourself if it is worth it?
One of the first steps to forgiving is to be aware that you need to forgive. The second step is to accept it and the third step is to take whatever steps are necessary to let go and to forgive. If you can’t do it on your own, find someone that can help you. Remember the woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post? I am happy to say that once we addressed her past and her struggle with letting go, she was able to forgive. The result? She was much happier, lost 30 pounds and went back to school to pursue a career in counseling.
I struggled with forgiving myself for a very long time but I can tell you that I am a much better person today because I was finally able to forgive. My genuine wish for all of you is that you are able to forgive because it is in that place that you will find the life you so badly want and deserve.
In Peace and Love-