Three things which have helped me forgive others, and also the past, are learning to let go, move on, and start fresh.
From the time we are young, we are presented with moments where we have to choose to forgive or not to forgive. A sibling or classmate knocks our stack of blocks down. A stranger trips us in their haste. A parent forgets an important event. And so on the list goes.
Learning to forgive is not easy when our heart wants to hold onto a hurt. My momma always tells me that as a chubby child, who out of all her children learned to walk the latest, I would wait until my brother after me would be sitting engaged in a game or other childhood activity to rush up and “pay him back” for an earlier slight, then run like heck to not be caught. We all laugh about it now, but it’s a perfect example of how any of us can let that behavior continue to grow on into adulthood. We get hurt – whether it’s disappointed or let down or worse – only to wait for the perfect time to payback the action or to refuse to interact with the person who hurt or insulted us.
For me, over the years, I have learned to let go of accidental – intentional or unintentional incidents – understanding that things happen beyond our control. It’s certainly not always easy, but I work hard to let go and move on. I try not to let the slight or mishap color my perspective by not dwelling on what should have or shouldn’t have happened. I have practiced over and over again starting afresh as soon after the event as possible. Oh, sure, I will move through the emotion – get mad, cry, whatever I feel, but I strive to make room in my heart as soon as possible for more positive emotions such as joy, peace, love, laughter – and forgiveness.
As humans, though, we tend to get caught up in the negative emotions. We let our disappointment ruminate too long. We dwell on why the incident happened at all. And we get stuck holding onto the grief of who did what to whom.
I used to do this, so I know how it all goes. The disappointment or anger can last for days and even months and, sadly, even years. In more recent years though, I try to let go, move on, and start fresh so much sooner than I used to. One thing that helps me is washing dishes. Let me explain. When I was a teenager and full of all those crazy hormones – whether I was mad at myself or upset with a sibling or maybe even angry with a parent, my momma would tell me to do the dishes. She said I could dwell on whatever I was upset about during the duration. Be angry. Be sad. Cry it out. Whatever it was, just feel it all – just don’t break a dish. Once I was done, I was to get over it and let it all drain away as the water swirled out of the sink after pulling the plug. It didn’t always work to rid myself of ill feelings, but I do have to admit it often helped. This process eventually became a great coping mechanism. And now, all these years later, I imagine my momma must have also done that a thousand times in her early years.
What would be three things which you have relied on to get past disappointments, injuries, or hurts in your life?
Today, there’s a myriad of ways we can work out feelings of hurt, disappointment, anger, frustration, grief of loss of a relationship due to death or even to some misunderstanding. We can go for a run or to the gym. We can meditate. We can seek counseling or clergy guidance. We can pray. We can evaluate our feelings through writing down the pros and cons of a situation. And we can even seek out a person, if wanted or possible, to discuss the hurt and seek understanding, possibly mending the relationship.
But when all these things cannot be done, sometimes letting go, moving on, and starting fresh may be all we can do to move past the hurt or disappointment. Sometimes, forgiveness will not be received from or requested by the person at fault. And sometimes, we can realize much too late that we can no longer ask for forgiveness – not necessarily because too much time has passed and the person is no longer living but also because the other person has moved on. So, we must forgive for our own healthfulness – in whatever way is best for our situation.
To start fresh, we must forgive by learning to let go – even if forgiveness by the other person is not an option. Instead of dwelling on the past injury, we can learn what we can from the experience and move forward out of it to a new place of forgiveness of self for our part…for our failure to handle the situation better at the time. We can move to a place in our mind and heart where we take what was gleaned from that long ago moment and let it bring healing and inspiration to self and others. Learning to let go and move on will bring much more wealth of goodness in our own life and those around us than any holding on to the past ever will.
What are some ways you have learned to forgive? Do you have a fallback process? Please feel free to share below or email me privately. Or you can even write your own blog about it. You never know…Someone out there might just be looking for your personal experience to realize they can let go, move forward, and start fresh, too.
Before I close, a huge Happy Mothers Day to all you moms out there and BIG HUG to anyone whose mom is no longer with you. And for anyone who’s struggling with their mom/child relation, I see you. I was there once; thankfully and gratefully, my momma and I are in a good place right now. If you love your mom, never give up. Always keep hanging in there and looking up. And…keep smilin’, keep lovin’, and keep moving forward!
Love & hugs, Virg
To read my one of my Mother’s Day blogs from last year, click here.