While holding grudges and dwelling on the past imprisons you, forgiveness is the key that sets you free. When we forgive, we make the conscious decision to focus on the things that matter and detach from the vicious cycle of resentment.
Psychologically, forgiveness helps you…
- Take life less seriously
- Free up space in your mind
- Forgive yourself, too
Spiritually, forgiveness helps you…
- Be still (immune to “demons”)
- Attract good things in your life
- Be selfless, free from the ego
I am not what happened to me: I am what I choose to become.Jung
Why we find it difficult to forgive
We experience pain and our mind can only think of one thing — unfairness. And then we fall into the trap of responsibility.
More or less unconsciously, we believe it’s our responsibility to punish those who hurt us — and if we can’t do that with actions or words, then we’ll use our thoughts instead.
This turns into a vicious cycle that does absolutely nothing to the “bad guys” and limits us to our past, our pain, our disappointment.
We find it difficult to forgive because our mind doesn’t like to let go of the thought of the person/people who hurt us. The mind doesn’t want freedom, but control.
When we realize that all the bitterness and anger that we hold toward someone, we actually hold in our own mind (and therefore it can only poison us), then we can begin to forgive.
Grudges are invisible prisons; the best and highest self knows it. It is our “limited” self that clings to the past and fails to go beyond what happened to us.
Forgiveness and spiritual parasites
If we forgive, there is conservation of energy. If we hold grudges, our energy is lost. The more intense our resentment and anger, the higher our loss of energy.
The real spiritual reason we find it difficult to forget is that “spiritual parasites” (you can use the word demons if you prefer) don’t want us to forget.
Why? Because they feed on those negative feelings. If we were able to instantly and naturally let go of anything painful (rather than agonize over it), our demons would be left with nothing.
Vadim Zeland calls these spiritual parasites pendulums — invisible entities that condition the way we think and act purely to gain energy (full explanation here).
At the end of the day, whether you believe there are actual entities that feed on our anger, or think it’s all in our head, it doesn’t really matter. The end result is the same.
Objectively, you lose energy and feel worse if you choose to dwell on the negative. Even if it’s unfair. Even if you are 100 percent right. It doesn’t matter.
Choose to forgive and you gain freedom (and lose nothing). However, forgiveness isn’t necessarily what we think it is…
What “forgiveness” actually means
So, here’s the thing: when you choose to forgive, you are not lying to yourself. You don’t forget what happened — you simply decide to move on, to focus on the things that matter.
To forgive doesn’t mean to pretend the other person simply made a mistake. It doesn’t mean he/she is your friend.
If anything, the act of forgiveness allows you to completely detach from those who hurt you, because by forgiving you remove them from your life and your mind.
Forgiveness isn’t passive resignation but conscious will. The best thing you can do isn’t to focus on pain and painful things, but what you want — the positive, rather than the negative.
I know this post is about spirituality, but it doesn’t hurt to look at objective data to confirm any spiritual truth you may have reached intuitively.
Psychological benefits of forgiveness
You have forgiven. You have chosen to move on. You are now liberated, light, free. Imagine your mind as a computer, and your thoughts as its storage space. Forgiveness deletes the bad files so you can add the new ones.
As explained here, each of our actions and even thoughts is always directed toward others and ourselves. Our psychic energy always goes in both directions. Forgiving others will help you forgive the most important person in your life… you.
Life is unfair… we don’t live in an ideal world… people should do this or that, etc. We can identify with the controlling, perfectionist part of the mind, and its unhealthy beliefs, or simply let go and and accept that nothing — and no one — will ever be perfect.
Forgiveness is actually a great exercise to improve your discipline, focus, and willpower. It’s easy to focus on the good where there’s plenty in your life. Not so easy after some kind of abuse or injustice. Learn to move on and train your willpower muscles.
Forgiving ≠ forgetting
Instead of dwelling on your pain or whoever caused it, learn a lesson. I’m sure it hasn’t been your fault, but what can you learn from what happened? Everything happens for a reason, and will happen again unless we become smarter and stronger.
Spiritual benefits of forgiveness
If you are into spirituality, then I’m sure you know that everything we do will in some way come back to us. It doesn’t have to be the Buddhist concept of karma — it’s just the way life works. Cultivate forgiveness and good things will happen to you.
The spiritual person allows himself or herself to be empty, and embrace what is meant for them; the same way you’d empty a room or container to then fill it with new items. If you tend to hold grudges, that’s going to be a lot more difficult.
Remember? When we agonize over the past we lose energy. This process can be seen as our vitality being eaten up by demons — real or imaginary. If we choose to forgive, then sooner or later those demons will disappear as their source of nourishment will disappear too.
What if the thought of being insignificant and unimportant (such as the floating rock mentality) allowed happiness? Once you silence the ego — or at least its unhealthy side — you no longer need to protect it at all costs, and that’s liberating.
Mystical, non-dual explanations of reality suggest that although the future already exists, there are infinite variations of it, and our job is to focus on the one we want (this is what manifestation is all about). Forgiveness breaks the chains of the past and allows you to pick your own best future.
Ten affirmations for forgiveness
- I am safe
- I prioritize peace of mind
- I let go of the need to control everything
- I choose to focus on the present moment
- As I move on, I feel liberated
- I deserve to be free
- I deserve to feel love
- The past does not define me
- I forgive others and myself
- I let go of expectations