“Many of us stubbornly hold on to bitterness and resentment about our life and work not because we are bad or unloving people but because we do not know how to forgive. . .to forgive is to release trapped energy that could be doing good elsewhere.”–Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership & Organizations by Cooper & Sawaf
Forgiveness Tip 5
Sometimes it is difficult to forgive because we want to hold on to an unfulfilled expectation of how we wished it would be. In the movie, What Dreams May Come, hell is depicted as a place where you “lose your mind”. The lead character, played by Robin Williams, goes on a mission to retrieve his wife from “hell”. She is there having “lost her mind” and committed suicide on earth because of the losses she could not accept. In “hell” she is insane with grief. It is Robin’s mission to bring her to her senses. He begins by reminding her of happy memories in their life. She refuses to listen. Finally, in desperation, he starts to bring up the sad parts of their life; appearing as though even the sad parts would be better than this insanity. With love in his eyes, he tells her, “Remember the fights we had? We had some really good fights. . .”
The point is, even the most difficult parts of your life have value to you and from the perspective of “hell” (losing your mind), you would choose the worst of your life experience over “losing your mind” any day of the week. When you refuse to accept the sad, painful or ugly parts of your life and insist on hanging on to the way you wished it would be, or thought it would be, you lose your presence of mind and maintain yourself in your own private hell.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool in bringing about a true feeling of acceptance of the way it was and the way it is. Forgive yourself for holding on to the “expectation” that was never fulfilled.
I forgive myself for holding on to a relationship that never existed.
The relationship that never existed is the perfect one that you have constructed in your own imagination. Having that relationship relies on you changing the past or changing another person. Both of which are not in your control.
I forgive myself for holding on to the need to change my wife.
I forgive myself for believing my wife needs to change before I can love her and accept her.
I forgive myself for believing I can’t accept it the way it is. (try to make “it” specific)
I forgive myself for believing I can’t accept my relationship with my father the way it is.
I forgive myself for believing I can’t accept my marriage the way it is.
I forgive myself for believing I can’t accept my divorce the way it is.
Sum it all up with the following idea:
I forgive myself for letting my expectation of something that never existed limit my freedom to be happy with my life the way it is now.