About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

November 19, 2010

Uncluttering Forgiveness

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

Dalai Lama

Have you ever been hurt so badly by someone that you have never forgiven them to this day?   Perhaps a lover who cheated on you, a friend who said something hurtful, or a colleague who betrayed your trust?  Maybe its something from your childhood, or teenage years, that a parent, sibling, schoolmate or even a teacher did or said to you - a painful moment from those tender, formative years, that still affects you to this day.   Are you reliving that moment right now - just because I brought it up, and are you becoming upset as a result?    I want you to do something for yourself before reading any further.  I want you to take a moment just to breathe.   I want you to take the kind of long, slow cleansing breaths where you fill your lungs to bursting, and then let the air out very slowly, focus solely on your breathing.  Now, add the visual -  picture yourself breathing in peace and contentment, and then breathing out hurt and resentment.   In goes the good stuff, out goes the bad stuff.  Do this until you feel your mind and your body relax.   That is what I have learned to do when painful moments from my past come to mind, and I feel that old familiar tightening in my chest.  

Next consider doing something very important for yourself.  Consider letting go of your deep seeded resentment and forgiving someone whom you have been harboring a resentment towards.     It may take you some time, some wounds can run pretty deep, and some hurts are more atrocious that others, but still I encourage you to do it - you will be glad you did.  Some people are inherently less forgiving, and learning to forgive after a lifetime of being unbending might take some practice.   Start with something small - start by forgiving that person that cut you off in traffic . . . then work your want up to the real painful stuff.  Why do I feel that that forgiveness is so important?

Because your pain and resentment are getting in the way of you living your extraordinary life - you know the one I keep encouraging you to go out and live?    You are burdened with an emotional backlog of stuff, which is cluttering your mind, interfering with your work, your relationships and your creative flow.  It can dampen your spirits on the most beautiful of days, rise to the surface at the most inconvenient moments.   There it is, getting in your way, when you least expect it - distracting you from pursuing your passions and interfering with your happiness.  How do I know this?  Because like everyone, now and then I have those kind of feelings too, but as Leo Babauta of Zen Habits recommends, I squash negative thoughts like a bug.

I have learned to be a very forgiving person.   I have forgiven everyone who has ever hurt me as a matter of fact.  In order to forgive, I first had to learn to develop patience and tolerance towards others.  Here are some of the things that I learned along the way:

1.   Human beings are fallible.    Understand that we are all human, capable of making mistakes, and remember that you yourself have needed forgiveness for mistakes that you have made in the past.

2.  Carrying that burden of resentment on your shoulders will bring you down.  Left unchecked, your feelings of pain and resentment will keep increasing and continue to eat away at you as you relive that painful moment again, and again, and again.

3.  Revenge is for the weak.     Making the deliberate choice not to retaliate is not a sign of meek acceptance of what has been done to us.   It is a sign of wisdom, patience and tolerance.

4. Forgiveness takes strength of character.  It takes a lot of strength to be forgiving, especially when someone whom you have loved and trusted says or does something to hurt you.  You may have had little or no control over what this person did, but you can still control your own reaction to it by forgiving them.

5.  Forgiveness takes understanding.  Again, understand that the perpetrator is another human being and that something in their past may have triggered their inappropriate reaction to the situation.   Also consider whether you might have contributed to the situation somehow in the past or present sense.  Were they reacting to something that you said or did?    This does not right the wrong, or lay the blame on you, but it may help you to have some perspective as to what they were thinking or feeling.

6.  Forgiveness is nothing to be embarrassed about.    If someone hurt you intentionally, put aside your embarrassment and your shame - they are the one who should be ashamed.  If the hurt was unintentional, if they were ever worthy of being a part of your life in the first place, they already feel bad and are probably hoping you will forgive them.

7.  Forgiveness does not mean that you must place your trust in this person again, or even include them in your life.  Consider whether or not this person is worthy of being a part of your extraordinary life - forgiving someone is not the same thing as trusting them again.  Forgive and forget are two separate things.

8.  Forgiveness will set you free.  Forgiveness in and of itself is the first step towards healing.  The more you practice patience and tolerance, the better you will get at forgiveness.   Then one day you will wake up and realize how uncluttered your mind has become now that you aren't harboring any resentment towards anyone.

During the course of a lifetime we experience any number of unfortunate interactions with other human beings, and those times where others either intentionally or unintentionally hurt us can be extremely difficult to deal with.   We cannot erase those experiences forever from our mind, but by developing patience and tolerance towards other human beings, we can learn to be forgiving.  Forgive just one person today, put the past in the past, its a great feeling, then go out and live your extraordinary life.



Notes from Ro:

You can learn more about simplifying your personal relationships in Joshua Becker's new e-book Inside-Out Simplicity.  I  have also read and very much like Mr. Becker's other book "Becoming Minimalist"  In addition I recently read and found very helpful, Leo Babauta's  The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life and Zen Habits for Life.



tym said...

Thank you so much for this Truth. It is so simple yet it is not easy. Please continue to share your wisdom and experiences. You are helping others..

Ro said...

Thank you Tym for your kind words and encouragement!