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Let It Go: Why Forgiving Others & Yourself = FREEDOM

Other peoples' words and actions can get under your skin and niggle your brain. This can turn what might otherwise have been a jolly lovely day into a frankly shocking one. Bad vibes bubble away. Our built-in negativity bias stirs that cauldron of calamity so that a few annoying, critical or downright mean words can negatively affect our daily lives. So what are we to do here?

Just. Let. It. Go.

The person who backed you into a corner and brought out the worst in you, forgive them, they taught you how you react in that situation (and how not to react next time). You can learn from that.

The person who hurt you deeply, forgive them, they taught you that, against all odds you have the strength to carry on, survive and even thrive. They taught you precisely what you will and won't accept into your life from now on. Those are useful boundaries to be aware of.

The people who teased you; those people who mean to be mean, forgive them anyway; they provided you with useful tools in learning how NOT to treat others and how thankful you must feel that you are you and not them, right?

The person who constantly criticizes you. Forgive them. They have probably been brought up in a critical perfectionist environment and have sufficient insecurities as a result. Their criticism reveals more about them than you. Let it go.

The person who copies you. You probably threaten them with your brilliance and creative fabulousness. Forgive them, for they will enable you to up your game and focus on your unique strengths.

The people who made you feel inadequate, forgive them. For they have helped you to look inside yourself and consider your own self-limiting thoughts about why you feel that way. By addressing and accepting those thoughts you can correct them.

Forgive everyone who has ever done you wrong in your past anyway. And as for all those who will aggrevate you in the future? Forgive them too. Make that decision to forgive ahead of time. To breathe in forgiveness and breathe out bubbling resentment.

Give people a break; we're all muddling through.

Give your parents a break (they're family and are doing their best too) and most crucially of all...

Give YOURSELF a break!

So you made a mistake and posted something on Facebook that you shouldn't have; forgive yourself, you reacted in a way that was natural given the circumstances and your regret has taught you an important lesson about your reactions. Next time you'll know better - to go for that perspective-gaining walk rather than hitting the 'post' button.

So you weren't there for someone when they needed you. That person would give you a break if they knew why you weren't there. The benefit of hindsight tells you that you can use that experience for the positive and be there for others in the future, because there's nothing you can do except apologise, so do so and move on. Let it go.

The advice that the marvellous Elizabeth Gilbert passed on from her friend Pastor Rob Bell's advice sticks with me here.

"Whenever he finds himself beating himself up for not being good enough at life, he simply writes this word on his hand — STUDENT — and reminds himself to look at that word several times a day, and to meditate upon it. It's his best defense... because it gently allows for self-forgiveness. Because we are all students, we are all new to this."

We say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, we are students not masters at life. We need to remind ourselves that we are doing our best and we are still learning. Each mistake we make, each failure we encounter gives us a blessed lesson that we wouldn't have learned otherwise; an opportunity to learn. And learning is always something to be grateful for.

Knowing and accepting that gives you the gift of freedom to be who you are, flaws and all, a student of life and living. So let's get on with being as kind as we can, as brave as we can, and as decent as we can and, when we slip up (which we inevitably will), learn from it, let it go and move onwards and upwards.

Enjoy your (learning) journey x

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