Let’s talk about unforgiveness–not forgiving others–and it’s consequence to you.
Are You In the Prison of Unforgiveness?
Forgiving is the way to not let the past hold you prisoner to your own pain. Today, we’ll consider this question, “Are you holding yourself hostage in the prison of unforgiveness?:
Holding on to anger, bitterness, hatred and feelings of vengeance is like YOU drinking poison yourself and expecting the OTHER person to die. It just isn’t a good thing to do because it backfires!
False Ideas, Cleverly Disguised
Feeling justified in not forgiving someone feeds the false idea of having power OVER someone else, and is so cleverly disguised that you think you are NOT the one getting hurt. You may never in a million years even consider that you are only hurting yourself because your blame of someone else for your own pain keeps you blinded to the role your own thoughts and feelings play.
Blame and Unforgiveness Are Connected
In the article, Blaming Others: Hurts You More Than It Hurts Them , Holly Brown, LFMT says, “Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes other people are to blame. Sometimes you are completely and totally and utterly correct in thinking that it’s someone else’s fault.
But once you’ve tried to get them to see that and failed, once they refuse to take responsibility, or if you are habitually blaming others rather than formulating a solution–then what?
The problem with blaming others is that it can often leave you powerless. For example, you confront the person (your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child), and they say, “No, I didn’t,” or worse, “So what if I did?”, then you’re left with all this anger and hurt and no resolution.
All your feelings are legitimate. It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on. Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because (as the title goes) it hurts you more than it hurts them.
… It is true that living well is the best revenge, and if you’re fanning the flames of your anger toward others for long periods of time, then you’re certainly not living well.”
Can you see the truth in what she says?
In 2016, I was privileged to speak with a Holocaust survivor named Ossie, for about ½ hour, just the two of us. As we talked, with riveted attention, I soaked in his experiences but mostly absorbed, straight into my heart, some of the lessons he learned through that atrocious experience. The most memorable to me was the fact that he saw many fellow survivors after the war. He said the ones who did not forgive were eaten up inside themselves with hatred. They were consumed with anger and rage, and stayed that way. Those who forgave went on to live more productive lives. It was apparent that Ossie had forgiven.
Sharing the Lesson of Forgiveness vs Unforgiveness
Ossie’s first-hand perspective about a principle I already knew to be true, impacted me so much, that, later in the day, after his presentation to High School Students, I asked him to share what he learned about forgiveness with my oldest grandson—hoping that that powerful life lesson from a Holocaust survivor might continue have an impact through the generations in my own family. The ripple effect of his sharing this powerful life lesson will continue to ripple though many lives—the lives of each student, teacher, or loved one in attendance that day—especially if those stories are written in journals, to be remembered after life gets busy and hectic and things are easily forgotten.
Oprah Winfrey is a notable public figure whose own eyes were opened to facets of forgiveness she had not thought about before. Viewed by the world as highly successful, she has been innovative, hard-working and influential which led to her achieving the distinction of being a billionaire.
Whether you agree with her points of view or not, her life story carries within it a particularly poignant example of rising above the odds. Personally, I am an advocate of not judging a person’s life by the chapter I happened to walk in on. We all have our own sorrow, pains and things we’ve overcome and are still overcoming. In that spirit, I’d like to share some powerful things Oprah had to say about her transcendent moment and paradigm shift relating to the concept of forgiveness.
Oprah’s Difficult Life Challenges
As a matter of background and according to the Internet Movie Database, Oprah was born to a teenage mother, was raised in abject poverty partially by her grandmother, and she was raped at the age of 9 by a 19-year-old cousin who was babysitting her. She was also sexually abused by a family friend, her mother’s boyfriend, and her uncle. When she was just 14, she gave birth to a baby boy who died after 2 weeks due to complications of being born 2 months premature.
She had a lot in her life that could have held her back, and she had a lot to forgive. In one of Oprah’s Life Classes on the Oprah Winfrey Network, she said this, “After 25 years and more than 30,000 guests, … it was one man’s definition of forgiveness that changed my life. In her interview, she said, ‘Harold, you mentioned that the secret to really finding true happiness is forgiveness. What do you mean by that?’ Harold responded, ‘It really means letting go of the past. It really means letting go of our perception that we need to hold a grievance the rest of our lives. If we really want to hold on to grievances, we’ll never really be happy. It’s really a willingness to see the person in the light of love rather than in the action that happened. So, it’s really changing the perception, and it really means LETTING GO OF THE PAST THAT WE THOUGHT WE WANTED. You know, we can’t really change that past, so it means really releasing the negative perception of it and coming back to the present. [Hold on until you see how this affected Oprah]
Oprah’s Transcendent Moment
Oprah then said, ‘that was a transcendent moment for me. Bigger even than an Ah Ha. He said, FORGIVENESS IS GIVING UP THE HOPE THAT THE PAST COULD BE ANY DIFFERENT. I think for myself, and I know many of you, you think forgiving means accepting what has happened to you. Well, it is accepting that it HAS happened to you, not accepting that it was okay for it to happen, it is accepting that it HAS happened, and now, what do I do about it. Forgiving is giving up the hope, not holding on, hoping, wishing that it could have been any other way than it actually was. Giving up the hope that the past could be any different. And, when I got that, I think it took me to the next level of being a better person because I don’t hold grudges for ANYTHING or any situation! And neither should you. It’s letting go so that the past does not hold YOU prisoner—does not hold YOU hostage.
Watch on YouTube by clicking here.
Oprah is known to have said,
“The best advice touches the part of you that knows it’s true.”
Can you feel the truth of these statements about forgiveness?
The past CANNOT be changed-no matter how much you spend your time and energy wishing it could. It cannot be different. It is what it is.
Tyler Perry, shares this.
“When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future.
When you do forgive, you start walking forward.”
Forgiveness is the way and means by which we do not pull the past into our present moments and project it into the future. It is one significant way we free ourselves from living in bondage to our emotional pain. -Carolyn Calton
Forgiving Can Be Hard
Remember that sometimes you need help outside yourself. Reach up. Look toward heaven.
Jesus Christ made possible both repenting (obtaining a change of mind and heart) and being forgiven. He also can empower us to forgive others. God has the power to help you rise above your own perceived capacity to forgive—even with things that sometimes appear unforgivable. I know I have been helped by Him as I have called upon Him in prayer. He has the power to help you see forgiveness in a different light, if you desire it.
Following God’s laws is what brings happiness, true security and inner peace. Don’t let unforgiveness stand in the way of true happiness and satisfaction at the deepest levels of your soul. Be sure to take care of not only the physical and emotional parts of your “self”, but the spiritual as well. Access the help you need to increase your spiritual vitality and learn to live in harmony with who you really are..
Three Questions Worth Considering
1) Is unforgiveness (a lack of forgiving others) affecting the harmony you could have within yourself, and in that way entangling you and derailing your thinking into unproductive efforts that subtly affect your inner worth, overall?
2) Who do you need to forgive?
3) What will you do with this knowledge?
Turn Your Pain Into Purpose
I’d like to remind you that you might benefit from journaling your thoughts as you process any uncomfortable, yet life-freeing emotions. The JOURNALriffic Method of Journal writing may help you turn your emotional pain into purpose.
Writing out your thoughts on paper or typing them on the computer can help you see clearly and understand what your hurt is all about. It can also help you find the life-changing, sustainable, principle-centered solutions you seek in order to be happy. Turn your back on being stuck in ruminating thoughts about your emotional pain and its cause. Take a step in the right direction. Integrate journal-writing and journal keeping into your emotional health routine today.
YOU are TODAY’s ChangeMaker!
As TODAY’s ChangeMakers in our family lines, we must proactively free ourselves from the prison of unforgiveness. We are here to create positive change in spite of any disruptions or destructive patterns in our lives as well as those stemming from our families of origin. That includes any situations in the past or in spite of what may be occurring in our life or in our family now.
Each of us can ignite the light of extraordinary family purpose in ourselves and our families. We do it by igniting the light of our own personal power to influence others for good through making principle-centered choices, in order to secure the home and stabilize society.
Check out my class offerings that can help you strengthen your ability to live according to the principles that govern happiness in yourself and in your relationships. This excerpt has been taken from the Revitalize Your Inner Worth: Get Out of the S.L.U.D.G.E. Class. Break free and rise above destructive thought patterns, habit patterns and family patterns, so YOU can fill your highest priorities with full purpose of heart.
CLICK HERE to see all free presentations and class offerings.
Disclosure of material connection: I am the author of JOURNALriffic -Turn Your Pain Into Purpose.