I wrote this book about anger and forgiveness because I see it everywhere. I hear it from friends on phone calls; I see it in comments on social media, and when we hold on to it we pass it on to our children, our grandchildren and others. More than that, we are hurting ourselves; we are damaging our hearts; we deserve better.
I would suggest having pen and paper close because it is time for you to make a list because forgiveness is not just about forgiving people. When I sat down to write this book, I made a list of everything that pissed me off and it surprised me to find that I had things to forgive, happenings to forgive, pets to forgive and yes, people to forgive.
I looked at this list and thought how the heck will I ever get through all this and then I realized I needed to divide my list into categories and begin with people because I knew I needed to follow my advice.
Make your list, look at it, decide where you need to start and then start again because the first person you need to forgive is yourself. Every name on that list begins with you. I didn’t say it would be easy but it will guide you to peace, I promise.
Recently, while writing my morning thoughts on Facebook, I wrote about how angry my sweet Larry was when we first became a couple. I would watch him sit at his desk and beat on his keyboard while sending emails to his attorney regarding the financial part of his divorce that the courts had not reached a decision on and he was mad.
Night after night, I listened to his complaints while he took everything out on his keyboard.
Finally, one night I asked him to turn his chair towards me and I took both of his hands in mine and I shared the knowledge I have about the importance of forgiveness.
I sat there and slowly told him about all the beautiful things that were landing in my heart in this new relationship. These same things were soaring right past his heart because of his anger. His heart was not open to all the love that we had within our 4 walls because his heart was closed to receiving them. Every night he sat there and pounded his keyboard in frustration.
I gave him examples of what he had been missing, and he sat there and looked at me with this blank expression. Tears fell down his face as I talked, and I didn’t stop explaining. I cut him no slack about his anger. I finally dealt the last blow and told him he had to forgive her for his sanity, and for his heart to open.
It took more words and reasoning about why it is so important to forgive anyone who has hurt us or has done terrible things to us, not for them, but for us. Convincing Larry wasn’t easy. Anyone who knows him can back me up when I write he was undoubtedly the most stubborn man when it came to letting go, or changing, or forgiving someone.
Healing emotional wounds takes work, but that work can bring you benefits beyond belief.
When we hold on to these hurts and allow anger to fester, we damage our hearts emotionally and, yes, physically too. Every day that passes we are poisoning ourselves and there is no basis to continue taking that poison.
I wasn’t asking him to forgive and forget; I was asking him to forgive himself because he played a role in this toxicity too.
It was vital for Larry to accept that he had played a part in what happened too. We all play a part in our anger towards ourselves and someone we allowed to hurt us deeply. We are not innocent. Therefore forgiving ourselves first is vitally important in moving forward through this thorny situation and to come out of it into the sunshine. We need to stop the bleeding from the thorns that tear at our skin, at our hearts, and bask in the knowledge that there is an amazing solution that is only steps away many times.
We cannot change the past.
I recently wrote about regrets and how I have none. Well, I may have a regret now and then until I remind myself I cannot change a thing that happened and I forgive myself and move forward or through.
My wise grandmother taught me to let go of having any regrets because, as she reminded me, I couldn’t change anything that happened. She was so right.
I am not advising that anyone forgive someone to their face unless you are truly comfortable doing it. Forgiving them is for you, it is for your benefit. As I pointed out to Larry, he was wasting an incredible amount of time on this situation and it was not easing his pain to keep beating up his keyboard and allow his words to yell at his attorney.
I remember how distressed Larry looked when I asked him to pretend I was his ex-wife and to express his anger out loud to me. I knew the stories; I was fine with having him do this, and he did. We were still holding hands, and he looked into my eyes and allowed a barrage of anger loose.
Several times he squeezed my hands too hard, and a gentle reminder would get him to release his grip.
You don’t have to role play, you can write a letter (and burn it), or you can record yourself as if you were talking to them and then erase the recording.
We are all spending too much time in our fields of anger, and we keep running into thorny bushes that serve as triggers in reminding us how angry we still are.
Larry did the work, and the relief he felt afterwards was palpable. All those little arrows of goodness that were soaring past his heart now filled his heart. He stopped living in the past and was now living with me in the present and planning a wonderful future.
Make your list and get ready to put forgiving yourself as the #1 priority.