New Year’s Resolution: Forgiveness

The holiday season is filled with numerous celebrations with family and friends.  These days are followed by a list of reforms we make for ourselves affectionately called “new Year’s Resolutions” to lose weight, live a more healthy life or to save more money.

This year, let us add a much more meaningful resolution tour list – a willingness to forgive.  Grudges, resentments, self-defeating habits and negative feelings are barriers to a healthy, productive life.  Positive thoughts like joy, happiness, achievement, worthiness and fulfillment have positive results like enthusiasm, well-being, energy and love.

On the other hand, when we have the negative thoughts of judgment, unworthiness, mistrust, resentment or fear, we produce negative results like tension, anxiety, alienation, anger and fatigue.  Our thoughts and our feelings result in our behaviors.  When we change our thoughts, we change our behaviors.  It is good to remember that the word anger is just one letter short of danger.

The majority of patients who are in a hospital today are there due to personal life choices.  People with a positive outlook on life live healthier lives.  You can make yourself sick or well by the habitual thoughts you think.  Negative thoughts of hatred, bitterness, criticism and revenge drain the body and mind of the energy needed to succeed. 

They are like a parasite sucking our own blood and livelihood.

For example, a good way to send your blood pressure and heart rate soaring is to talk about a person who betrayed you.  Research is confirming what many have suspected for a long time.  One way to improve our health is by our willingness to forgive.

Many people find it hard to forgive others because they were taught erroneous messages about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not forgetting, is not condoning or excusing someone.  Forgiveness is not the same as smothering conflict or tolerance.  We can still hold someone responsible for their actions and we can still fell angry.

Forgiveness is personal empowerment and spiritual healing.  At some point in our life, we reach the decision that life could be better.  We realize that what we have done in the past is not making us any happier, healthier, or more successful.  We decide to make a conscious choice to heal ourselves by examining the hurts in our lives and learning how  to let go.

I enjoy facilitating retreats on “The Joy of Forgiveness” which are mini journeys to healing wholeness.  I have dealt with just about every issue possible over the years.  People who have been hurt as a result of divorce, incest, abuse, addictions, or discrimination can learn how to “let go” and forgive as a gift of personal empowerment to themselves.

During these retreats, the participants proceed through six stages of forgiveness with a variety of activities.  Keeping a journal of their thoughts and feelings each step of the way adds to the success.  Each person discovers how everything that happens is a new beginning.  If you really want something to happen, it is not too late to set new goals.

For many people the hardest person to forgive is one’s self.  Our society is really good at putting guilt trips on us.  We fill our thoughts with “if only” or “I should have” statements.  Learning how to accept and forgive one’s self is a key to happiness and contentment.

Not forgiving is like a cancer that eats away at your own body.  The whole idea of forgiveness is putting yourself back in the driver’s seat and not allowing someone who hurt you to live rent free in your head.  In other words, if you do not forgive, you hurt yourself more than the person who hurt you.  You forgive as a gift to yourself.

This year, make a New Year’s resolution to make peace with your past, so you can go on with your life.  Remember” Forgiveness is good medicine.