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Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a different past. -Colin Tippen PHD, RADICAL FORGIVENESS

This year is the perfect time for making personal changes that can move us into a healthier lifestyle and begin to heal our planet as well.  The forgiveness process is a force for healing interpersonal relationships and hurtful experiences.  In addition we benefit, because forgiveness heals us internally and also can create less division in our personal life and in our community.  I would like to offer you some thoughts on forgiveness, both from my own experiences and from some well-known teachers on this subject.  It is my hope that these ideas will help you decide to move forward with this important process.

Forgiveness is usually a two-sided slate, forgiving another and forgiving ourselves.  Often people try to back into forgiving, in order for it to feel better.  We attempt to forgive others before we first forgive ourselves.  Many times it is very difficult to look at our feelings of guilt in these situations, because these disturbing feelings can be very deep.  One example of this might be blaming our child’s school or teacher for his or her academic challenges, rather than seeing our own contribution to the problem.

Feeling guilty and assuming the victim role is often part of this dynamic.  An example of this unhealthy thinking may be, “people are always cutting me off on the road or cheating me when I make a purchase.”  Neither of these perceptions will contribute to a happy life style.  They only add to our personal suffering. 

Forgiveness does not mean that we are condoning any behavior by another.  When we forgive, we are not making the statement that “nothing hurtful or unfair happened to me.”   This is essential to understand!  We do not have to continue to be part of any relationship that is unhealthy or harmful.  Also, forgiveness does not mean that any specific action is necessarily required from us.

Forgiveness is a healing of the heart and mind.  We can ask a hundred people if we are on the right side of a conflict, or we can ask a hundred people for forgiveness when we make a terrible mistake.   Neither really matters, because the healing work is an inside job.  It is done by us, inside our own mind and our own heart.  We are the ones that feel upset and attacked.  It is our choice how we will respond.  If we attack back, then we usually feel guilty, and then have to justify our actions to feel better.  We can decide to carry our pain forward or decide to release it through forgiveness.  

Internal toxic thoughts and feelings attack our bodies.  Continuing this attack by carrying our pain forward can result in stress-related illnesses.  Let us be responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, health and well-being.  Forgive because it is good for you and good for the world you are part of.