“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
- Lewis Smedes
Recently, I read Paulo Coelho’s beautiful new book The Aleph in which the lead character says a moving “Prayer of Forgiveness”. The prayer touched me and made me reflect on how many people punish themselves, sometimes for many years by not forgiving others and themselves.
Of course, all of us at some point in our lives have been hurt by someone, or hurt someone, either intentionally or unintentionally. If the pain is intense we often hold onto our anger for a very long time. In our heads we play the scene many times, which only adds to our unrest. The memory deepens and sometimes exaggerates resulting in the pain to intensify.
When the relationship is an important one, some of us will at some point make the move to resolve the conflict and eventually within time learn to let go and forgive the offending person. But there will be many of us who continue holding onto anger, pain, resentment or guilt not realizing that in the end the person you damage the most is yourself.
Our whole life can get affected by this obsession; family, friends, work – and in some cases we can get so consumed that we forget about enjoying the beauty of what is happening around us; we stop appreciating the good things happening to us because we have filled ourselves with resentment, thus blocking love from entering.
We need to forgive and let go, so that we can start living life again by allowing love to enter. To do this:
First make a commitment to yourself that you want the best for yourself, after all your wellbeing is your priority. If you are not able to appreciate your life you will never have the courage to live the life you love.
Always remember that to forgive and let go is in your control; it is your choice. If it was you that hurt another make amends; tell them or write to them about how you feel and then let go and forgive yourself. Understand that you are human and as humans we all make mistakes. If it was someone who hurt you then let them know, release yourself of the pain and resentment, why would you want to continue hurting yourself by holding onto this pain? Negative thoughts deplete your energy and positive thoughts increase your energy and your thoughts are always in your control.
If the situation was very traumatic then it is important for you to get professional help to allow you to let go and forgive. Understand that this may, depending on the severity of the situation, take months or years, but it is only once you do this that you will be able to get peace of mind and allow your life to move forward.
To finish where I began; the beautiful “Prayer of Forgiveness” from The Aleph by Paulo Coelho:
The tears I shed, I forgive
The suffering and disappointments, I forgive
The betrayals and lies, I forgive
The slandering and scheming, I forgive
The hatred and persecution, I forgive
The punches that were given, I forgive
The shattered dreams, I forgive
The dead hopes, I forgive
The disaffection and jealousy, I forgive
The indifference and ill will, I forgive
The injustice in the name of justice, I forgive
The anger and mistreatment, I forgive
The neglect and oblivion, I forgive
The world with all its evil, I forgive
Grief and resentment, I replace with understanding and agreement
Revolt, I replace with music that comes from my violin
Pain I replace with oblivion
Revenge, I replace with victory
I will be able to love above all discontentment
To give even when I am stripped of everything
To work happily even when I find myself in the midst of all obstacles
To dry my tears even when I am still crying
To believe even when I am discredited