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Who Do You Need To Forgive?

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Who Do You Need To Forgive?

Finding freedom in forgiveness.
Denise  Marek
Denise Marek More by this author
Jul 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM

She was my first friend. We met when I was three years old and, although she was a year younger than me, she was the girl with whom I spent most of my childhood. We played together, we grew together and, over time, we began to like boys together—that’s where the friendship started to fall apart. She had this strange habit of latching on to every boy I told her I liked. If I mentioned I had a crush on the boy across the road; the next day she’d be spending all of her time with him. If I said I thought the guy up the street was cute; suddenly they were an item.

I began to resent her and our friendship broke apart. I developed new friendships but I never fully trusted these new companions with my true feelings and thoughts because my first experience had taught me that doing so could hurt me. I believed that maintaining superficial friendships was a good way to keep myself protected. However, I was actually doing myself a disservice—I was missing out on one of the most satisfying and rewarding parts of life: having deep, meaningful friendships. I was trapped in the past by a negative experience.

That’s what happens without forgiveness—you remain stuck and become stagnant, missing life’s opportunities. With forgiveness you no longer hold yourself back. You’re free to move on. You’re free to close the door on yesterday’s negatives and learn to use past experiences in a positive way. Forgiveness is one of the very best gifts you can give to yourself.

What is forgiveness? It’s understanding that you cannot go back and change the past and it’s accepting that all your experiences—no matter how traumatic, painful, or unhappy they may have been—are simply lessons from which to learn. Whether emotional, physical, or psychological, negative or positive, those lessons were meant to teach you how to be who you are in this moment—a wiser, more empowered you. You need to understand and accept that today you’re the person you are because of what you’ve learned. Once you accept those lessons—and truly learn from them—the negatives of yesterday will never affect you again. You won’t carry doubt, fear, and guilt. Instead you’ll be free. That freedom comes from forgiveness.

Who is it that you need to forgive? Everyone. You need to forgive yourself for everything it is that you believe you’ve done wrong, for example, not giving love when someone needed it, not being supportive, creating negative energy in another person’s life or in your own, or not being honorable or respectable. You also need to forgive others—all those of whom you’ve thought negatively because of something they said or did. Forgive the neighbor who lied to you, the parents who scolded you, the kid who bullied you in school, the boss who fired you, the spouse who hurt you, and the friend who betrayed you. But how? How do you forgive and stop carrying the negatives of the past around with you?

First, look at the individual you’re forgiving (whether it’s yourself or another) in a different way—step back and put the positive first. In my situation, I had to stop seeing that first friend as nasty and see that perhaps she did what she did out of fear. Maybe she was afraid that if I had a boyfriend, she would be alone, so she preemptively swooped in to protect herself. Or it could be that she was repeating a pattern taught to her by her mother—who, in an effort to control my friend would threaten to take away her special things and give them to me if she wasn’t good!  Maybe my friend was trying to control me in the same way—by taking away the things I liked.

Next, use that lesson to learn something positive about yourself as you move forward. Ask yourself: What lesson have I learned about myself and with what lesson am I moving forward? For me, this experience taught me the importance of being a trustworthy friend and today that’s what I strive to be. It also gave me the opportunity to see firsthand how holding on to anger, upset, and negative feelings keeps you stuck in the past and how forgiveness can free you. Through the experience I learned to forgive and I moved forward. These are some pretty positive lessons for which I’m very thankful.

In forgiving others, it’s important to realize that you’re not condoning poor behavior. You simply understand you can’t change what’s happened, and you accept there were lessons for you to learn in those experiences. You don’t have to necessarily like how you’ve learned those lessons, but you can come to a place where you’re grateful because you’re stronger. Those situations made you tougher, more aware, more conscious, and more capable. You can treasure the fact that you’ve learned so much.

Take all your experiences and become empowered by them. You can’t change them, but you can discover something of value in them. When you do, you’ll be able to extend forgiveness to yourself and others. You won’t carry the barriers and the weights of the past—you’ll be free. You’ll be free to grow into the best person you can be and to create the best life for yourself. Begin today by forgiving for good.

About Author
Denise  Marek
Denise Marek is known as “The Worry Management Expert.” An international speaker and television personality, she has helped thousands of women transform their feelings of worry into feelings of inner peace. In June 2001, Denise earned the coveted Toa Continue reading