I’ve studied a lot of clients, family members, and myself over the years and what I have found is that most people have a tendency to not want to forgive life. Maybe you don’t feel like your accomplishments are good enough, or you chose the wrong spouse, or that you regret not spending more time with your children. Whatever the reason, the inability to forgive is carried around on this person and eventually a person cannot move forward in his or her life. How can you be the best you, if you are beating yourself up over the past? The quote that I chose to represent forgiveness of life is from Israel Zangwill: “The Past: Our cradle, not our prison; there is danger as well as appeal in its glamor. The past is for inspiration, not imitation, for continuation, not repetition.”
It is a given that time travel isn’t real and a person cannot change things in the past, so why do so many people keep that weight on their shoulders? It becomes a complete senseless act to waste any moment of your life with regrets of the past. Last month, I wrote about acceptance. I think acceptance and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. Accept the past. Forgive the past. You cannot change it, but it is beneficial to you if you can learn from your past. When you reflect on the past with knowledge and wisdom, you have something for which to be grateful. The application of the things learned should be considered an inspiration, as Zangwill wrote.
Forgiveness is a choice that you must consciously make. It is a gift that you give to yourself. If you choose to go around angry about the past, generally, you wear that on your sleeve. Those people are always negative, angry, and frustrated. They have let their past dictate their happiness. Don’t fall into that trap. Choose to invest in the future. Choose to forgive the past. Learn from it; grown from it, and move on.
Here is an exercise to help you overcome the past and forgive life. Reflect on the things that bother you. Write them down. See all those problems, pains, choices for what they are: learning experiences. Let it all go. Some clients find writing a list and setting it afire is cathartic (please note there are safety measures involved with this one). Others find that meditating on these things until a place of peace is reached is beneficial. Some find that speaking affirmations continually works best. Some affirmations to practice are: “I am letting go of this_________ and choosing to forgive my life,” “I forgive my past, it has no power over the present,” “I move beyond forgiveness to understanding and have compassion for all.”
Once you do these exercises and forgive life; focus on the present. There is so much joy and love in living. Focus on each moment and be at peace. If you instill the virtues I have been writing about recently, you will come to a place where you are able to find joy in each moment of your life. It is refreshing, and healthy. Now, at times, your mind will wander into the past again. This is inevitable. The choice is yours. You can either acknowledge it, and continue, as Zagwill suggests, or you can let it invade you. My hope for you is that you choose to forgive. Always. Thank you for reading. InJoy your day!
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