“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.

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    Beth Myers has an MA in cognitive psychology and a Master's of Library and Information Science. After years of working in my community, I am excited to be widening my reach to a larger community through the Internet.


    July 2013
    July 2012
    May 2012