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Forgiveness is a key ingredient to freedom

I was inspired to write this post by my friend Ken Wert of the Meant to be Happy blog.

We are all on the journey to freedom

I believe we all want to be free. I believe there is an innate human need to be free.

This freedom comes in many forms. It can be financial freedom and the ceasing of worrying about money to pay the bills. It can be the freedom to do what you want, when you want.

Then there is an important freedom, which supersedes all the ‘other types of freedom’ namely the freedom from our own suffering, and the emotional pain, which we create for ourselves willingly or unwillingly.

Our pain continues like endless cycles, or at least they seem endless if we have not woken up yet, to the wisdom of what is going on inside us and inside others.

I’m talking about this type of freedom, and let me ask you, who would deny not wanting it?

We are all on the journey to reach this state. Some know it. Others don’t yet. But it is the unstoppable forces of nature, which will drive us to this position.

Then there is the conscious will to help ourselves get there. There are a number of ‘real’ ways to reach this position. Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong. They are all means to an end. But when used in healthy combinations, they can help to reach ‘that end’.

The hurts from previous times

Let me ask you something. How much hurt are you carrying from your childhood, perhaps from when you were in school? Let’s face it kids are kids. They say things to other kids; sometimes mean things. Perhaps you were bullied at school and you’re still hurting from this now in your adulthood.

Maybe your parents expected a lot of you and you felt you weren’t able to live up to their expectations. And having the need to always to a perfect has been carried over into your adult life.

Or maybe teachers just didn’t understand you properly, and when you wanted support for learning, they weren’t there the way you needed.

Hurting doesn’t always have to be from childhood though.

It can be happening now.

You might be arguing with loved ones at home. You may be angry about a colleague not giving you credit for the work you did. You might not have been invited to the party of a person who you thought was a ‘friend’.

A key ingredient

One key ingredient which is essential for freedom is forgiveness of others of the pain they caused us either knowingly or unknowingly.

The truth is the children from your childhood are just that – kids. They don’t always know what they’re doing, when they speak mean words or pick on other kids. Such kids need appropriate discipline, but they are still immature.

The pain you carry now from what they said and did to you years ago. How is it helping you move forward? It’s not is it? Then release the pain. Let it go right away into the distance so you no longer see it.

And as it disappears, forgive those young kids as you’re a mature adult now, and understand that kids do things they don’t understand, and they do so because they themselves are hurting somehow.

As for the adults who hurt you when you were a kid; the truth is unfortunately, parents don’t usually go to ‘parenting 101 clubs’ :-). Some parents are bringing children up with their own deep insecurities governing their lives. This then causes them to treat their kids in ways where there is the potential to cause emotional harm to them. However, the parents are pretty clueless about what they are doing.

Also, our parents did the best they could with the resources they had; even though what they did was in a warped way.

Now as an adult you can see this, right? Therefore you can forgive them and make your peace with them.

Perhaps you were experiencing a learning disability when you were kid. And your teacher wasn’t mature or sensitive enough. However, as an adult you know what it means and is like to be sensitive.

So with your adult mind and body you have the ability to go back into the past and give that teacher who needed more maturity and sensitivity, these very same resources. If you need to do this, then go ahead and do it.

As for what happened last week and last month, or even yesterday; and what that person said that made you so mad. Instead of being mad, you can show this person compassion and forgive them.

Remember, this isn’t about condoning such actions of others. It’s about forgiving them so you can create the space needed to heal yourself, and provide opportunity for those who hurt you to heal themselves too, should they wish to.

It’s as simple as this:

We hold onto our grudges against people, and we move away from freedom, because we continue to hold onto pain.

On the other hand, if we to forgive, we open up the doors to freedom from more suffering.

Why forgiveness really is that important

I once met a person who had been raped and she was able to forgive the person who hurt her. And rape in most people’s books, including mine, counts as one of the worst crimes one can inflict on another.

“How can someone forgive people like this?” you might be thinking.

I used to ask myself the same question. Until I realised, that in order for people to really move on towards their own freedom, even after having such hurt put upon them, forgiveness is a key ingredient.

 

If you have liked this post, then please leave a comment in the box below and/or share it with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or your favourite social network.

About Author

Hiten VyasI am a Life Coach, Author & Speaker. Early on in my life I have experienced extreme amounts of fear and anxiety because of difficulties due to stammering. This pretty much crippled all aspects of my life. I entered the self-development field in 2003, and since then have changed myself into a successful individual. It is now my passion to help you overcome your own difficulties, and assist you in living the life you want and deserve. I'm the author of the eBooks entitled How to Deliver a High Impact Speech for Beginners, Lessons in Unassuming Leadership, How To Present With Confidence, Mindfulness Meditation For Everyone, Confidence With Women - How To Approach and Talk With Women, How To Overcome Job Interview Anxiety, How To Cold Call With Confidence and Say No To Exam Stress. All my eBooks are also available from Flipkart and Rockstand.in. I'm also the Founder and Managing Editor of the online magazine eBooks India.View all posts by Hiten Vyas →

  1. Bendu Sherman
    Bendu Sherman02-06-2012

    Great message. Yes I do notice a release emotionally and mentally everytime I let something go or choose to stop thinking negatively about something that upset me.

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-07-2012

      Hi Bendu,

      It’s so nice of you to drop by! Thanks for your comment.

      Learning to let go really is so liberating. It’s like we carry so much burden (be it hurt, anger, guilt etc) around with us, it’s amazing how we don’t fall over from the weight.

      We can’t change the past. But we can change how we respond to our pasts.
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  2. Justin Mazza
    Justin Mazza02-06-2012

    What a powerful message Hiten. When we are kids we have the perception of kids ie lacking real world experience. As an adult I have been able to look back and let go of past hurt and wrong doings as I once perceived them.

    There is real energetic freedom in letting go and forgiving. Besides, wouldn’t we want to be forgiven too for our past behaviors? I would.

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-07-2012

      Hi Justin,

      There is nothing like dealing with our pain from when were a child, than by looking at what happened as an adult. It just puts everything into perspective.

      What you said my friend is such an important question. We too have had occasions when our actions have hurt someone else. You are right. We would want to be forgiven too.

      It’s important here that for our own actions, we consciously forgive ourselves too. We make mistakes. Everyone does. Otherwise we just end up feeling guilty. And again, we can’t change the past. So spending long periods of our lives feeling guilty for past events makes no sense either.

      Thanks for your comment my friend.
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  3. Rajesh Bhandari
    Rajesh Bhandari02-07-2012

    Great words sir ! freedom is the state of mind only. Forgiveness is the way to release our self from these virtual limits ..

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-07-2012

      Hi Rajesh,

      You are so right. How much do we end up just limiting our own ability to think, feel and behave by not forgiving? In a sense, by not forgiving, we continue giving up our powers to those who hurt us. This is because the way we feel is still dependent on what they did.

      Thanks for your contribution my friend.
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  4. Marcus Baker
    Marcus Baker02-07-2012

    HI Hiten,

    This is a great topic and one you have covered brilliantly.

    One of my favourite quotes about forgiveness comes from Oprah Winfrey – “Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed. ”

    To me her words say everything about why we often find forgiveness a challenge. We want to cling to the hope that something which has already happened and which ‘hurt’ us can be changed and yet it never can.

    Holding on to this false and illusory hope is what causes us suffering because it is in fact the very opposite of hope – hopeless. Even though we know this, we hold on because we still believe we have been wronged.

    Forgiveness of others is not really about them at all and yet we think we are giving them freedom when in fact it’s a gift we give to ourselves so that we can move towards bridging the separation between who we think we are and who we really are.

    ~Marcus

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-07-2012

      Hi Marcus,

      I really liked this quote by Oprah. Thanks for sharing.

      She is right though. Letting go of the hope that the past can be changed, is what forgiveness is about, isn’t it?

      And I totally agree with you say. It’s a tough pill to take, but essentially people need to really understand that although we cling to the past and want it to change, how can we? The event happened once. And ‘hopelessly’ clinging to it is just an attachment to illusion.

      Thanks for commenting my friend and adding your much appreciated insights to this post.
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  5. pea
    pea02-08-2012

    It’ s strong message that we often forget. It can be very liberating to let go of literally anything, physical or psychological. We often forget that this actually benefits us more to do it.

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-08-2012

      Hi Pea,

      Yes, you are right. It really is liberating. It’s one of those strange ones isn’t it? It is as you say, that we often forget that doing so is of benefit to us.

      As I was reading your comment it reminded me of something. The things that we find the most difficult to do in life such as forgiving and showing compassion to those who hurt us etc are those which in the long run are of most benefit! :-)

      Thanks for dropping by Pea and for your contribution. It’s nice to connect with you.
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  6. Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer
    Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer02-08-2012

    Beautiful post Hiten!

    You have indeed wonderfully written this post about forgiveness being the key to most problems, especially the freedom from our thoughts and worries.

    You are so right when you speak about us keeping grudges about things that took place in the past, or when we were kids. Yes, those were immature kids and we ought to forget about such events and move on in life. Similarly, how and what way our parents treat or treated us is not something to feel bad about- as you so rightly mentioned that they were/are not perfect either and whatever ways they knew, they raised us that way.

    The same holds true for our friends or relatives. Things do happen, sometimes good and sometimes bad. But its wiser to keep the good memories with you and let go of the bad ones by forgiving people and starting afresh. I guess you do yourself a big favor and feel so much more lighter and content. I remember by Granny always saying that no matter how your day goes, but make sure you patch up (with your spouse) before you go to bed- I guess she was right :)

    It is best to let bygones be bygones and forget the troublesome past by forgiving people and helping yourself in the process to attain the freedom from the burden of such painful thoughts or problems.

    Thanks for this wonderful reminder :)
    Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer recently posted..The Benefits of Having Dogs for ChildrenMy Profile

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-08-2012

      Hi Harleena,

      I’m really glad you liked the post!

      You are right about our parents. They did the best they could with what resources they had at that time. And they loved us, even though at times they expressed this love in strange ways.

      I loved what your granny said, that you should always make up with your spouse before you go to bed! What a wonderful thing! It really is true with anyone, right? Holding onto grudges is just a waste of our own energy dwelling in unhelpful emotions, that just keep on moving us away from freedom.

      Yes, let us all let bygones be bygones as you say, while keeping the good memories and look forward to a more positive and optimistic future!

      Thank you so much for adding your valuable insights to this post Harleena! :-)
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  7. marc van der Linden
    marc van der Linden02-08-2012

    Hi Hiten,

    Great post! I enjoyed it very much.

    You have explained a very powerful topic about forgiving. Forgiving is actually the most natural and easy way to get rid of grudges on others. Having grudges does cost energy and brings us the pain of experiences which did hurt us.

    Forgiving helps us. It helps us to get free us of those painful moments and bring ourselves back in balance.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Hiten Vyas
      Hiten Vyas02-08-2012

      Hi Marc,

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post my friend! :-)

      Yes, I agree with you about forgiving being the most natural way to get rid of grudges. The thing about grudges is that they are based upon events, which may have happened once, and at the time the experience may have been unpleasant. However, by holding onto grudges we are then holding onto thoughts and emotions created in the mind, about what happened once, but certainly are not happening in the here and now.

      Thanks for commenting Marc. I appreciate your great addition to this post. :-)
      Hiten Vyas recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  8. Pam
    Pam02-09-2012

    Hiten,
    Of all the things I struggle with, forgiveness is at the top of my list. I really have struggled with feeling I must forgive my parents, even though I have explored the other side of the coin, that I don’t really have to.
    And I struggle with forgiving myself a lot – I tend to be very self-critical, as I am sure a lot of stutterers are, and find myself often feeling disappointed that I didn’t do better or try harder.
    I have been working, continually, on being kinder and gentler to my self . . . . . which is hard, as I am very good at doing that for others, and encouraging others, but when it comes to self, much harder.
    Thanks for writing about this – I am sure it is a universal struggle to give ourselves permission to forgive.
    Pam
    Pam recently posted..Stuttering Paradoxes – Episode 81My Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-10-2012

      Hi Pam,

      I appreciate the point you made about struggling with forgiving yourself. I had to do a lot work with this myself in the past.

      Finding it hard to forgive others certainly can cause emotional pain. And then there is forgiving ourselves, which when we find hard to do, probably creates even more pain.

      I believe one way a person can deal with this, is to truly experience that being hard on ourselves creates further pain. Letting go of being self-critical ceases pain. It really is simple as this, although I know in practice it is more difficult. But it can be done.

      We can observe the inner experiences of being self-critical and disappointed without becoming attached to them. By becoming objective like this, we open up the doors to self-forgiveness because we begin to see beyond the ego that is creating the resistance to forgive in the first place.

      Thanks for your comment Pam and for sharing your experiences.
      Hiten recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  9. Dia
    Dia02-11-2012

    Hi Hiten,

    Exactly my friend, there is no reason to stay resentful. As long as we stay resentful and having anger inside of us, we will never experience emotional freedom. This also tends to have a negative impact on our health and well being. The purpose of forgiveness is to release ourselves from all those “negative” emotions that don’t serve us. Thanks for sharing Hiten
    Dia recently posted..The path to inner peaceMy Profile

  10. Hiten
    Hiten02-11-2012

    Hi Dia,

    You added some great points to this post. As you say, harbouring such feelings just contributes to more anger with us, and creating more anger is really not the way we want to go. It can be devasting to ourselves and hurt others if we take out our anger on them.

    And as you also say, having such emotions stay within us and continue to grow, only means that our health and general well-being will suffer. And having good health really does contribute to our happiness.

    Thanks for your comment Dia. Your thoughts on this area are much appreciated. :-)
    Hiten recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  11. Melanie Kissell
    Melanie Kissell02-12-2012

    Bravissimo!

    You’ve embraced and embarked on a topic not many of us would touch with a ten-foot poll.

    Truth is …

    Nothing is more difficult than forgiveness.

    I’m still struggling to forgive the man who tried to kill me. I tend to focus more on “gratitude” for having survived.

    I’m a BIG Mark Twain fan — always have been since the seventh grade. I love this quote:

    “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain

    And I’ll NEVER FORGET when John F. Kennedy said …

    “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” :)

    One thing that helps me forgive painful hurts from the past is to think of all the yesterdays as “cancelled checks”.

    We can’t go back and live those moments again. They’re gone … for better or for worse … and gone for good.

    Very poignant post — thank you!
    Melanie Kissell recently posted..I Don’t Want To Be A “Lead” When I Grow UpMy Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-12-2012

      Hi Melanie,

      I’m really glad you liked the post!

      Yes, I agree it is very difficult to forgive. And there is no doubt that the more terrible the hurt inflicted on us by others, the more difficult it is to forgive. I’m really glad that you are able to focus on the “gratitude” after what happened to you.

      I loved the quote you included by Mark Twain. It’s so true.

      And the one by John F. Kennedy was brilliant too!

      Thanks for sharing your approach of forgiving past hurts using the idea of “past hurts”. I really like that Melanie.

      You said: “We can’t go back and live those moments again. They’re gone … for better or for worse … and gone for good.”

      It’s that bit at the end “and gone for good”, which I thought was great. To me, that says there is opportunity for healing here, as what once happened, won’t be happening again. Bad experiences happened once, and now they have gone for good.

      Thanks for your excellent contributions to this post Melanie! :-)
      Hiten recently posted..If you know ‘why’ then will you focus on ‘how’?My Profile

  12. Adrienne
    Adrienne02-14-2012

    Wonderful message you shared Hiten…

    I didn’t carry anything over from childhood but started having major issues early in my 20’s. Let’s just say my heart was broken in the worst way. I held onto that anger for years and it was until a little later in life I learned that I was doing nothing but hurting myself by holding on to all of that.

    I even bought a book and read all about why I should forgive the other person for the things they’ve done to me. It didn’t mean I approved of it or would ever allow that to happen again. But I couldn’t move forward in my life until I learned how to forgive others.

    What a wonderful lesson that was for me too. It really does nothing but hurt you in the long run.

    Great topic Hiten and thank you for sharing this. I know it will help plenty of other people as well.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Advice To Me 10 Years AgoMy Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-14-2012

      Hi Adrienne,

      I’m really glad you liked the post and thank you for your comment. It’s always great to hear your views, as you usually add so much through sharing your own experiences.

      What you said, about your learning later in life, that you were doing nothing but hurting yourself sounds like that was a very profound moment for you.

      I too have similar experiences now. If I find myself getting into a negative state, at times I catch myself doing this, and tell myself: “I’m not going to go there, because I’m only going to be creating pain for myself”.

      As you quite rightly said, by forgiving, it is not about approving people’s actions or allowing them to happen again. It’s about understanding that we are freeing ourselves to move on.

      Thanks for dropping by Adrienne my friend. :-)
      Hiten recently posted..Forgiveness is a key ingredient to freedomMy Profile

  13. Deeone
    Deeone02-14-2012

    Hey there Hiten,

    Man, I love what you did with this post my friend. It is extremely powerful and defintiely on point!

    I’ve had many incidents growing up where I had to offer forgiveness for things that family members, friends, and peers had either said, done, or didn’t do that hurt me tremendously. I was teased a lot in school for things I had absolutely no control over, but what that did was give me really thick skin when it comes to the loose tongue of insults. I am stronger because of what I endured.

    That is what makes forgiveness a bit easier for me these days. I am able to look past people, their actions, and their words, and see that through every negative incident that occurs in my life, lies a lesson and/or a gift for me to overcome it and become stronger because of it. Now, I won’t lie and say that it’s easy for me to forgive or to let go of some of those wrongful offenses, but what I keep in mind is that I can become better if I offer forgiveness. That allows me to do it a tad bit easier.

    I know of a few people in my close knit circle that ask me from time to time, “You said that you forgave them… why aren’t you dealing with them anymore or dealing with them less these days?”

    Forgiveness to me doesn’t mean we are meant to be doormats, and if people don’t have the common decency to treat you in a way that you deserve to be treated; then there’s really no manual that says you have to deal with that individual. You have to put YOU first. That may sound self-serving or egotistical, but if a person doesn’t take their own feelings into consideration, I don’t believe no one else will either. So I personally can forgive someone, and deal with them from a distance easily.

    It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me. I maintain my peace of mine and my integrity, by avoiding foolishness. If they insist on being apart of my life, then they will know what to expect. No secrets. No hidden truths.

    I loved this post, Hiten! You really nailed it, my friend! :)
    Deeone recently posted..Clear Up Your VisionMy Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-15-2012

      Hi Deeone,

      I’m really glad you liked the post mate! :-)

      Being teased at school sure isn’t nice, but it’s amazing how it really toughened you up. It’s a bit like the saying:

      “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

      Your ability to see beyond people and actions is very powerful my friend. And I can totally understand what you mean. People say and do things; sometimes it might not be nice. We can also do the same. However people are far more than what they say and do, as we are too.

      Yes, it’s not easy to forgive at times, but as you say, it’s us who become better, because we let go of the hurt and resentment in our own hearts. And absolutely, it’s not about being treated badly, and allowing this to happen.

      Everyone should have a certain sense of common decency to other beings, and those who don’t, well they need to be called upon it, or best left ignored. I agree my friend, it’s not egotistical.

      Self-respect is very important and people who lack this (as I once did) need to build up their own. This includes the ability to stand up for yourself and not take nonsense from people.

      Thanks for commenting Deeone. Your opinions are highly valued. Your words always make me think, and my friend, you succeeded once again! :-)
      Hiten recently posted..Speaking up at Easy Public Speaking blogMy Profile

  14. Bellaisa
    Bellaisa02-16-2012

    One saying that helps me forgive – always – is “If they knew better than they would’ve done better!” It’s just that simple.

    Your parents did what they knew. The kids did what they knew. The teachers did what they knew. And your friends and family continue to do what they know.

    If one day they know how to accept and support you better than they will – but until that day..they are only doing what they know. So you can’t be upset and hold on to grudges with them for them only doing what they know.

    Great (and important) post Hiten
    Bellaisa recently posted..One Huge Mistake Many Women Make When Trying To Attract a GuyMy Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-17-2012

      Hi Bellaisa,

      “If they knew better than they would’ve done better!” – You put it beautifully. :-)

      It really is a simple as this. In fact, all of us, whatever we do for anyone at any time, are doing what we can with what we know, and what resources we have at that time.

      And you’re right; if those close to us, figure out how to support us better some day, then great. Until then, they are just doing what they know. And the same goes for us too!

      Bellaisa thank you so much for commenting. Your profound message has added a fantastic new perspective to this post.
      Hiten recently posted..Speaking up at Easy Public Speaking blogMy Profile

  15. veehcirra
    veehcirra02-21-2012

    Hi Hiten,

    Thank you for sharing about forgiveness in such a great way. Whenever I think of forgiveness, I see it as a selfish act to some extent. When we forgive, we do more good to ourselves than to the people we are actually forgiving. It definitely is a way to freedom,though it is not as easy to carry through.

    Veeh
    veehcirra recently posted..The Heart Scares Easily…My Profile

    • Hiten
      Hiten02-21-2012

      Hi Veeh,

      Wow! What are interesting way of putting it! I’ve never thought of forgiveness as being a selfish act, but now I think about it, I can see what you mean, particularly as you say how it does more good to ourselves.

      It’s well worth it though I believe, because we are creating peace in our minds and lives, and this can only be a good thing as our peaceful energy will transmit to others.

      Thanks for commenting Veeh. It’s great to connect with you! :-)
      Hiten recently posted..Meditation session at Positive ProvocationsMy Profile

  16. Kath Roberts
    Kath Roberts03-16-2012

    Hiten you raise a great subject in forgiveness, wouldn’t the world we a much better place if we could all only learn to forgive and express love?
    You’re so right when you point out the desires behind freedom. Anything anyone wants in life is really all about the feelings behind those wants and I think it is quite easy to uncover people’s level of evolved consciousness when you explore this. Of course you can’t think about service to others if you can’t afford to pay your houshold bills and I think the process is similar with forgiveness. We can only learn to let go of our past issues when we have learnt to empower ourselves from the inside out because its this unlimited power of the spirit that gives rise to an understanding that love is the highest energetic vibration an individual can really have and when you have it you can forgive anyone .

    • Hiten
      Hiten03-16-2012

      Hi Kath,

      Thank you very much for your powerful comment!

      I loved reading it. :-)

      I agree, the world would be a far better place if we all learnt to forgive and express love.

      I also appreciated your point about learning to empower ourselves from the inside out. You are so right.

      A big part of why forgiveness can be so hard for so many, is because not enough self-awareness has been developed into what we really are, what we are experiencing inside us, and where these experiences are coming from.

      As you say, when we discover the real power that lies within us, it is indeed so powerful and pure, that forgiveness just becomes a manifestation of it.

      Thank you for dropping by here Kath.
      Hiten recently posted..Guest posting at Meant to be HappyMy Profile

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