The importance of forgiveness

The importance of forgiveness

by don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills

Forgiveness is an act of self-love. You must forgive those who hurt you, even if what they did to you is unforgivable in your mind. You will forgive them not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because you don’t want to suffer and hurt yourself every time you remember what they did to you.

It doesn’t matter what others did to you; you are going to forgive them because you don’t want to feel sick with emotional poison all the time. Forgiveness is for your own mental healing. Forgiveness is the only way to heal your emotional wounds.

You will know that you have forgiven someone when you see that person or hear their name and have no emotional reaction. When you can touch a wound and it doesn’t hurt, then you know you have truly forgiven. Of course, a scar is going to be there, just as it is on your skin. You will have a memory of what happened, but once the wound has healed, it won’t hurt you any longer.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, it’s easy to say we should forgive. I have tried, but I cannot do it.” We have all these reasons why we cannot forgive. But the truth is that we cannot forgive because we learned not to forgive, because we practiced not to forgive, and we have mastered it.

There was a time when we were children when forgiveness was our instinct; it was effortless and natural to forgive.

If you see two children playing together, and they start to fight and hit each other, the children run to their mothers and cry. “Hey, she hit me!” The two mothers have a big fight and hate each other for the rest of their lives. Five minutes later the two children are playing together again as if nothing happened.

We are born with the capacity to forgive, but we learned the opposite behavior, and we practiced the opposite behavior, and now forgiveness is very difficult. When someone does something to us, forget it, that person is out of our life. Because of pride, because of honor, we add more fire to our sense of injustice. Why? Because our personal importance grows when we don’t forgive. It makes our opinion more important when we can say, “I will not forgive him. What he did is unforgivable.”

But guess who is going to suffer and accumulate more and more emotional poison? We are going to suffer for all kinds of things people do around us, even though they have nothing to do with us.

Take your pride and put it in the trash. Let go of the personal importance and practice forgiveness. Forgive others, and you will see miracles start to happen in your life.

Begin by making a list of all the people who have hurt you, all the people you need to forgive. Start with your parents, your brothers and sisters, your children, your spouse, your friends, your lover, your cat, your dog, your government, and God.

You are going to forgive others by knowing that whatever anyone did to you had nothing to do with you. Everyone is dreaming his or her own dream. The words and actions that hurt you are merely a reaction to the dream going on in that person’s own mind. You are a secondary character in that dream.

Nothing anyone does is because of you. Once you have this awareness, and you do not take it personally, compassion and understanding will lead you to forgiveness.

Next, make a list of everyone you believe you need to ask for forgiveness. Then ask them for forgiveness. Even if there is not enough time to call everyone, ask for their forgiveness in your prayers and through your dreams.

Start working on forgiveness; start practicing forgiveness. It will be difficult at first, but then it will become a habit. Practice and practice until finally, you can forgive yourself. At a certain point, you find that you must forgive yourself for all the wounds and all the poison you created for yourself in your own dream. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows. That is the supreme forgiveness — when you finally forgive yourself.

Today, in this moment, send all the love in your heart to yourself and to those who need your forgiveness. Forgiveness is a great way to give love to yourself — and to other people. Love is your nature; don’t resist what you really are. You can improve your life just by expressing what you are, just by following the love in your heart in everything you do. Today is a wonderful day to open your heart to love and forgiveness.

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Adapted from The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship (Chapter 11: “Healing the Emotional body”). Copyright © 1999 by Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D. and Janet Mills. Reprinted by Permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc., San Rafael, California.

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