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Forgiveness: The Emotional Weight Loss Program

December 9, 2019

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Now that we are close to wrapping up 2019, many of us are thinking about those pesky extra pounds we’ve gained during the year. But what about the extra emotional weight we carry around? It drags us down and saps our energy.

Forgiveness Fitness Test

Take this quick forgiveness fitness test to determine whether or not you’re carrying around unnecessary emotional weight.

  • Do you still feel angry or bitter about an incident that happened in the past?
  • Do you feel resentment toward a family member, friend or co-worker?
  • Are negative emotions blocking your ability to experience real joy?
  • Have you severed ties with someone you once loved?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you are probably missing out on a great deal of happiness. So many of us are weighed down with resentment and anger, it feels like we’re walking around with cement blocks on our shoulders. When we’re unable to forgive and forget, we’re forever chained to the people and situations that have caused us pain.  

Perhaps, like me, you’ve struggled with the concept of forgiveness. My first marriage ended painfully. Because I was unable and unwilling to forgive my first husband, I lived alone for 10 miserable years after our divorce, wallowing in anger and self-pity. There was no room in my heart for a new, healthier relationship. I couldn’t seem to let go of the bitterness even though I realized that the only person I was truly hurting was myself. 

After several years, I became close to a circle of friends who seemed to have a special joy and peacefulness about them. One woman, in particular, had a calm about her that I had rarely seen before. I asked her to share her secret of contentment. She told me she had learned how to forgive others and let go of past hurts. 

As our friendship strengthened, my resolve to learn how to forgive strengthened with it. I started forgiving small things. When someone cut me off at an intersection, I’d whisper a prayer for his or her safety. When co-workers were cruel to me at a former job, I forgave them and wished for their happiness. Things began to change. I could feel the chains of resentment literally falling away.

When I was finally able to forgive myself for my divorce and forgive my ex-husband for his betrayal, I was set free. For the first time in my life, I felt an inner peace and joy I had never known before. It was exciting, so I decided to apply forgiveness in all areas of my life.

Forgiveness starts at home and it’s a skill that must be practiced. As we grow in forgiveness, we need to focus first on the people we’re closest to. It’s impossible to forgive on a grand scale if we can’t forgive ourselves for our mistakes; or family members for offending us; or our children for lying about where they were after school.  

6 Steps to Forgiveness:

  1. Make a list of the people you have been unable to forgive and the situations that caused your anger. Include every situation, even those that happened many years ago. Don’t forget to include your own name on the list.
  2. Own your part of the problem. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for any words or actions that may have contributed to the conflict with the other person. Write them down.
  3. Forgive yourself first for any past mistakes you’ve made, especially if the other person has already forgiven you. Time and again, we wallow in guilt and remorse long after the other person has forgotten about the problem.
  4. Learn how to let go of your anger and resentment. This takes practice. Try this visualization exercise to actually picture yourself letting go. Think of any situation that is the cause of your bitterness. Now picture the faces of the people you haven’t forgiven or the ones you need to ask forgiveness from. Imagine that you’re holding onto a string tied to a big helium balloon. Take every single one of your problems and tie them to the end of that string. When they’re all attached, let go of your imaginary balloon. Picture it floating away from you. You’ll actually feel the weight of your resentment begin to lift from you. Repeat this exercise every time you feel the old anger starts to return. 
  5. Reach out to a person who needs your forgiveness or from whom you need to ask forgiveness. This is the time to set aside your pride and take the initiative to start the healing. Pick up the phone, write a note or visit them. Ask them to forgive you for staying angry and tell them you forgive them for whatever it was that hurt you. This takes courage, but more often than not, you’ll be amazed by the response you get. Most people are grateful for the opportunity to make amends.
  6. Do it NOW.  Tragedies are painful reminders that we can lose a loved one anytime. Perhaps some of them needed to forgive someone but figured they’d do it later, on their terms. Now they’ve lost their chance, and the people they left behind will live the rest of their lives with pain, guilt, and remorse. The sooner you start practicing forgiveness, the sooner you can experience its rewards. Don’t put it off until it’s too late.

Forgiveness is a choice. When you practice it you become a better parent, spouse, coworker, boss, and friend. You’ll also see how forgiveness can make you more successful in your career or business. Learning how to forgive yourself and others will help you shed those unwanted pounds of anger and resentment. Forgiveness will give you the freedom to experience all the joy life has to offer. 

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