“Forgiveness is limbic friendly.” Tian Dayton, PhD, TEP
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilde
The most important thing you can do to help you find happiness and equanimity is to learn how to forgive. Forgive those who have caused you pain. Forgive those people who you perceive as having done you wrong. And, most importantly, forgive yourself.
If you’re like me, you hold onto a great deal of resentment for various events and interactions in the past, but it’s important to learn to let those things go. You can find some method of consciously letting things go. You can meditate on what is causing you pain. This is not necessarily the easiest thing to learn how to do. And there are times when we think that we are forgiving someone for their transgressions, but we find the anger emerging again later and have to face the fact that we did not truly forgive that person.
I’ve been told to breathe and count to ten when I find myself spinning off on my storylines that are upsetting to me. I’ve been told to consciously wish the people who I resent are free from pain and suffering themselves.
These are both methods I have used to work with various resentments. These methods can help you to forgive someone in the here and now, if you can get yourself to stop and breathe and count. They can also help you overcome a general sense of anger or disappointment with other people and therefore with life.
Typically, what most upsets us about others reflect the aspects of ourselves that we don’t approve of. Many people have a hard time seeing this, and want to ignore that what is most upsetting about someone else is something that they dislike about themselves. This denial, while keeping us protected from things we don’t like about ourselves on a conscious level, also keeps us ignorant of the more difficult steps we need to make in order to truly accept ourselves as we are.
Once you learn to accept yourself and have patience with yourself, accepting others, having patience with others and accepting life and the world as they are, becomes easier.
I have difficulties with impatience. This is a relatively new development, but it makes sense given my age and the fact that I have been depressed for many years. Like many women, my depression has turned to anger as I've gotten older. My impatience feels physiological. I feel my blood pressure rise. I feel like I could literally explode. I am working at catching myself during these explosions, stopping the explosion as quickly as possible and forgiving myself when I do yell or lose my patience. As I work with myself in this way, I find that my impatience and explosions occur less often. Even the physiological symptoms occur less often, and I can stop them more quickly by breathing and taking a mental step back from the situation.
I am lucky that I have never been a violent person and have never hit anything besides a wall, but I imagine for anyone who turns these explosions into outbursts of violence, there is a great deal of guilt and lack of patience with themselves. This lack of patience with yourself, which can lead to not being willing to admit that there’s a problem, actually exacerbates the problem and the symptoms of anger.
It turns out to be all very cyclical. There needs to be some level of forgiveness before you can admit to the problem. You have to admit to a problem before you can start to work with it and then learn to forgive yourself on a deeper level.
Forgiving yourself for yelling or losing your cool is worlds easier than forgiving yourself for hitting someone or hurting an animal.
Still, learn to ask the other person or animal for forgiveness.
Learn to apologize to others.
It really does help with the feelings of guilt and it helps other people to realize that when they interact with another person, both people are involved. Learning to forgive oneself and others is crucial for psychologically healthy relationships.
Again, the most important thing you can do to help you find happiness and equanimity in your life is to learn how to forgive.
Particularly learn how to forgive yourself.
You have more strength than you realize. You have more strength than others realize. Since nobody has actually even walked an inch in someone else’s shoes, they cannot realize what strength another person actually has or why.
Yet, your inability to truly accept your own strength and your own potential can be one of the main obstacles getting in the way of your success. Don't ever succumb to feelings of insecurity by comparing yourself to anyone else. We all have different strengths and different weaknesses. You are a unique individual with unique capabilities, which makes it crucial for you to become more self-aware.
Fortunately, managing your belief system can have a positive impact on everyone around you. As you begin to change your perceptions about yourself and realize that people are unique individuals, you grow to have more patience with yourself and this allows you to develop patience for others. Because, what we see in others that we don’t approve of or that upsets us the most is what we see in ourselves that we don’t approve of. It’s what we dislike the most about ourselves.
Many people have a hard time seeing this, and honestly, we all want to ignore that what is most upsetting about someone else is something that they we really dislike in ourselves. This denial, while keeping us protected from things we don’t like about ourselves on a conscious level, also keeps us ignorant of the steps we need to make in order to truly accept ourselves.
That’s the key. It’s something we don’t accept about ourselves, and yet we’re not even at a point of admitting that, which keeps us from accepting ourselves as we are.
Once you learn to accept yourself and have patience with yourself, accepting others, having patience with others and accepting life and world as they are, becomes easier.
Not that the work is done. The job just becomes easier.
Bringing mindfulness and self-awareness to your life can be life altering.
A number of my follow-up messages discuss how helpful meditation can be in developing mindfulness and self-awareness, and thus eventually being of some help to people who struggle with depression.
Promise me you'll work on this: developing your awareness of your inner strengths and accepting yourself more truly as you are.
Currently, I am working on embracing the point of view that we live in an abundant universe. Knowing that life, fulfillment, and abundance are in a constant flow and it’s just a matter of tapping into what’s available to everyone at all times, that’s a crucial piece of moving toward happiness. It’s not about what we deserve. Everyone has hard times, and there will always be periods in a person’s life when it is necessary to grieve. The wheel of fortune moves that way – such that everything is temporary. Relaxing with things as they are, and not thinking or obsessing about how things should be, that is the first step toward finding some sense of equanimity. This is the knowing that pulls us more naturally away from the actions and feelings that we sometimes don’t like about ourselves.
jealousy, envy and greed – knowing that what someone else is doing does not influence in the least what will be available to you, knowing that the more you receive does not have to come from taking it from someone else.
lacking confidence, low self-esteem, self-disdain – there is no reason to worry about not being worthy of this beauty that literally exists everywhere, whether it be in a tree, a child, a flower, a butterfly, a rainbow. Life offers so much splendor, and it is there for all of us, because we are all so very worthy.
unkindness, callousness, cruelty – we can always forgive ourselves for past transgressions, plan to change these kinds of actions in the future, and then trust ourselves completely to stick to that plan.
fear, selfishness, being caught up in ego…
Perhaps it’s time for all of us to befriend all of that ancient stuff that we’ve been carrying around like suitcases full of the heavy stones for so many lifetimes.
I, myself, have allowed these feelings to fill my life and keep me down for so long.
And I work with telling myself the same things every day:
It’s a matter of opening yourself to everything that’s available, revealing that soft spot inside yourself, unlocking your ability to love. The genuine heart of bodhichitta cannot be lost. It lives in all of us, like a diamond in a piece of stone. It remains there without blemishes and completely whole.
** This post is inspired by several writers, in case you’re interested in developing any of these ideas. Many thanks to Jerry & Esther Hicks, Pema Chodron, and Ezra Bayda