As a world we hold many grudges; we seemingly cannot forget the actions of generations before us. The stigmas that have arisen are excluding and held long passed their due. We label the world as “us” versus “them”. We’re in a constant state of war between us and other countries, us and the neighbors that mow their lawn at five in the morning, us and the elderly woman who cannot find her checkbook at the cash register ahead of us. Are minds grip in frustration because we cannot understand the other person. We do not know what they are going through. This leads us to place blame and we start thinking people are doing things intentionally. The neighbor is doing this because I was noisy the other night. This is his way of payback. It’s silly stupid things like that lead us to frustration and anger. As nations sometimes we do the same things. Placing blame on a few individual from a foreign country as if they represent every soul from their country. All of this is conflict and all of it is unnecessary.
It is incredibly evident that conflict does not move us forward as a world. Every argument we get in, every grudge held, holds us back. We watch the news and when we see someone get murdered we immediately start placing blame. Was this person from our country? What was this person’s skin color? Were they on drugs? We start looking for who to blame and who’s group is responsible for the action. This is an inaccurate way of looking at the world because the individuals do not represent the whole. They are individuals.
While we cannot prevent the collision of different intentions we can prevent conflict that often times comes out of it. We can choose to forgive the individuals, the countries, the groups, the world, and ourselves. When someone makes a mistake or has a different intention than you, don’t place blame. We’re all part of the same human family. Forgive them when they make a mistake and realize that they aren’t always pitted against you. If they are at seeming odds with you, speak with them and bring about understanding. Violence is the ultimate lack of communication, it forbids discussion and understanding. So speak with an open ear and try to learn about them. While not all violence is physical, try to keep calm. Raising your voice or getting into shouting matches does not solve the problem. It furthers conflict between both parties. If one party does not want to discuss, then maybe you’ll have to wait patiently.
Much of the forgiveness that we need to give is to ourselves. We have so much built up conflict inside of ourselves. If we’re on a diet we can be angry at ourselves if we choose to eat something unhealthy. If you had a goal and came up short, you could become upset with yourself. Holding in that conflict doesn’t solve anything. We need to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and errors. We are only human and sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we forget someone’s birthday or to pick the kids up from school.
While many of these examples seem tiny, many of them can build up in an individual and create great unhappiness. This is not about growing an ego and thinking you are better than everyone else. Rather it is about realizing that you will make mistakes and the best way to progress past them is to forgive.
This is why forgiveness of the self is so important. How can I forgive you when you make a mistake if I cannot forgive myself for things that are just as menial? When your husband or wife forgets to pick up the kids, the anger or frustration is not always directed at them. Sometimes it’s frustration that we also make the same mistake. We are all human and suffer from the same lack of perfection.
This can be amplified to represent the world. We need to forgive our own people when they make mistakes because nobody is perfect. We may think we could do a better job, and perhaps we could, but there is no reason to hold that discontent. If we could do better, then we should go out there and actually do it! Complaining about the problem and blaming someone else does not solve the problem.
That is why I want you to take a moment to think of all your shortcomings in life. Where did you fall short and miss the mark? All the mistakes that you have made in your life. Once you have them in mind, imagine writing them in the sands of a beautiful beach. Imagine the waves rising over them and slowly washing them away. The water leaves behind no mark of the past and that mistake is forgiven. You have accepted it and now you are ready to move on in life. Do this with as many things you can think of. Do you have any anger or frustration with yourself? Did you not accomplish a previously set goal? Wash the emotion in the beautiful sand with water.
Then try again. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and your mistakes then move on from them. If you cheated on your diet, forgive yourself and move forward. There’s no use in breaking everything down now, you can keep moving forward.
After you have done this for yourself, start doing it for the angers and frustrations you have with other people. Do you have resentment towards somebody? What is it that you are frustrated with? Imagine the tides rising and carrying their mistakes away. They are only human and subject to the same human-ness as you. Now move forward from it. If you should take action, then do so. You could go ask your neighbor to mow at a different time, after you have forgiven him. If you do this in the wrong order you could cause conflict. You need to forgive them first so that you don’t hold on to that resentment.
Now breath. This exercise can be done anytime, anywhere, for any reason.
In the comments below tell me about your experiences with forgiveness. Are there people in your life that you need to forgive? Is there unnecessary conflict within you? If you’d like more posts on forgiveness, let me know.
Together we can all create a more peaceful world through the act of forgiveness. Let’s bring peace to our conflict and forgive those who have done wrong and made mistakes. It is time we take a step forward together.
P.S. Gandhi has some amazing works on forgiveness and non-violence. I suggest checking them out when you have the time!