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Forgiveness and the Mental Health Benefits of Letting Go



Twelve years after a contentious breakup with his business partner, he held deep resentment and anger toward his former colleague. The two men lost contact with one another, but for years after their parting of ways, the man harbored intense hostility toward his former cohort which led to a deterioration of his health. Then, the man discovered his ex-partner had been dead for ten of those twelve years. 


This man's story is an excellent example of how unforgiveness has little or no effect on the other person but can devastate our lives. No one suffers like the person who casts hostile thoughts toward the object of their wrath. 


Most major spiritual teachings emphasize the importance of forgiveness. Holding a grudge yields a different result than the grudge holder intends because no one suffers like the one casting out the negative energy. To harbor resentment toward another person, a past event, or an institution is like picking up a burning coal to throw at someone else. However, it sticks like molasses to the person, and they burn their flesh.


When we recognize how ill-will toward others affects the person holding such energy, we understand forgiveness is never about the other person. As the Buddha noted, we: "Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because [we] deserve peace."


Because highly evolved people value their inner well-being, they eagerly forgive when appropriate. To be spiritually developed, it is essential to embrace and practice forgiveness. There are many forgiveness techniques, but here is one process that I found helpful and that you can consider:


The first step is to be aware of your need to forgive. Gary Zukav, in his book The Seat of the Soul, noted that, "an authentically empowered person forgives. Forgiveness is not a moral issue. It is an energy dynamic. Forgiveness means you do not carry the baggage of an experience." Acknowledging that you are holding onto something (past baggage) that is hurting you and that you must let go, helps. 


The second step is to be willing to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice that you make for your benefit.


The third step is to ask Spirit for help and guidance. You don't have to do this alone. You can ask for help from a higher power, the Universe, or whatever higher force you believe in.


The fourth step is to be willing to face and feel your feelings. Forgiveness requires confronting your emotions, which can be painful at times. But it's essential to feel and process those emotions to move on. You have to face it to erase it.


The fifth step is to own your feelings without blaming or judging anyone else. It's essential to take responsibility for your feelings and not blame others. 


Finally, the sixth step is to surrender the results to Spirit. Trust that everything will work out for the best and surrender the outcome to that higher power.


Forgiveness is a process, and it's okay if you need to repeat steps two through six multiple times. Just be patient with yourself and trust the process.


When we practice forgiveness, we clear the energy field around us so that we can see the possibilities in store for ourselves and our world. That is the power of forgiveness.


Peace and Blessings,

James 

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