Forgiveness as a Way of Life



Many of Humanity’s greatest profits have preached about forgiveness though out our history, yet this is still a concept that we struggle with today.  In light of that, I would like to talk to you today about how you can learn to use forgiveness as a way of life.

Forgiveness Definition

chinese-forgivenessFirst let us define what forgiveness is.  According to Wikipedia:

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”

This means that when someone commits an act against you that you do not like, you do not hold it against them and wish them ill will in return.  This does not mean that you agree with the actions taken by the other party or even saying that they are okay, it just means that you will not hold those actions against them.  Forgiveness also is very closely aligned with the Golden Rule and will help you to live by it.

Start With Yourself

Road Rage used to dominate my commute, but now I have learned how to forgive myself and others.

While it is very important to learn to forgive others, I firmly believe that the process starts within yourself.  Typically when the issue comes into play it is because someone did something that upset you and caused negative emotions to brew to the top.  So the first step is to let go of those negative emotions by forgiving yourself first.  It is only at that point that you can move on to be able to forgive the other party involved.

A good example of this from my own life is dealing with “road rage” while driving.  With almost always having a decent sized commute to work and back over my career I have come across many a times where I have gotten very upset with other drivers on the road.  Curse words blare out, arms begin to flail and an overall unease of self would ensue.

Now as I have been working on enlightening myself I have learned that more often than not it was just a mistake from the other driver and not done intentionally.  So whenever something happens and I feel the negative emotions rising up, I am quick to forgive myself for getting upset and also forgive the other driver as well.

What I have actually done in the above example is to put myself in the other driver’s shoes and see it from their perspective.  We all make mistakes when driving, a missed turn signal here, a forgot to look that way there.  So I do my best to keep that in mind and it helps me to transmute those negative feelings into much more positive ones.

Forgiving Others

Forgiveness is the hammer that breaks the vicious cycles.
Forgiveness is the hammer that breaks the vicious cycles.

Now that you understand how and why to forgive yourself, let’s take a look at forgiving others and why it is so important.  The main reason is that it helps us stay in a positive state of mind versus a negative one.  Secondly and just as important, is that it is the tool that allows us to break negative cycles.

There are many negative cycles that are dominating our world right now, such as War.  Right now on a world level there is the War on Terror, but in reality it is a vicious cycle that will not solve itself until forgiveness can be brought into the equation and used to break the cycle.

Think about it for a minute.  Every time a “terrorist” is killed, many more are created.  Why?  Because that person had a family of people that loved them and now find themselves seeking revenge.  This will continue on forever and only get worse if left unchecked.

This is what makes forgiving others so hard at times.  We have been raised in a world of these cycles as if they were just a normal part of life.  Yet we have the power to stop them and to learn how to grow together through forgiving each other.  Once we break the cycle of violence or whatever negativity it is, we are one step closer to not only an enlightened mind but an enlightened race.

A Way of Life

Working together through forgiveness, we can make the world a better place.
Working together through forgiveness, we can make the world a better place.

With all of this in mind and also knowing about the Golden Rule, you can see why it is so important to learn forgiveness as a way of life.  The more of us that can walk this particular path, the more likely we are to start breaking the vicious cycles that are tearing our world apart.  The more cycles that we break the better place the world becomes and we will reach a more enlightened state.

Remember that bad things do need to happen in our lives for us to really know and understand the good things that we enjoy the most.  There is always a Silver Lining to every dark cloud or that moment of clarity where we are able to learn from that situation.  With learning how to forgive mixed in with that, you will be a leader to a much more positive world.

Share Your Experiences

I invite you to share your experiences here with us so that we can all learn from each other and prosper.  How has forgiveness played an impactful role in your life and what were the benefits of it?  Please share with us in the comment section below.

If you are interested in learning more about how to forgive yourself, check out this E-Book.

Thank you,

James W D

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14 Replies to “Forgiveness as a Way of Life”

  1. What an interesting post. Forgiveness in my opinion is a bit easier to give to others than to yourself. For some reason many of us can’t let go of our past, but especially if we missed an opportunity by making the wrong decisions. Often reminiscing about good times can bring back all of your memories including the bad ones, or those we don’t care to remember but do!

    I know the Bible tells us to forgive others and I have tried to live up to that, though it is not easy. Times are much different now and quite frankly, so are people. We live in a time of fear, where everyone seems to be afraid of something and I think it all goes back to not having forgiven ourselves, and projecting things into our lives from the past, because we’ve yet to get over it!

    I honestly believe I have forgiveness in my heart, but each instance would be weighed individually of the others. Even when you’re being honest or apologetic, it can deter positive outcomes when the receiver reacts negatively. I do continue to work on this issue knowing that forgiveness is something I need for me and not necessarily for them.

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective with us here. I do agree with you in that forgiving oneself can be a lot harder than forgiving others. However, like you said we keep projecting things from our past when we can’t forgive ourselves and then this causes issues not only for us but also those around us. This is what makes it so important to realize that we will make mistakes and that is okay, as long as we learn from them.

  2. In my humble opinion as a therapist, I feel forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing to do.

    I was able to work with clients using the gestalt therapy, which brought about magnificent changes. Some were able to connect with family members whom they had not seen in years.

    Essentially for a person to move forward with their life forgiveness is very important.

    Once of the benefits, I experienced when helping others to forgive I was able to forgive myself for chances lost.

    • I would certainly agree with you in that forgiving oneself is more and likely the hardest thing for most of us to do versus others. We know that with others there is stuff that we are not aware of from their point of view and that ambiguity helps to make it a bit easier to forgive.

      In our own instance though, we feel like we do know all of the details which in turn makes it harder for us to forgive ourselves.

      I have also seen that in helping others learn what we need to learn is a very valuable tool. When we put ourselves in a position to be of service to others it gives us a great opportunity for growth and healing.

      I would love to talk to someone from your field and pick up even more perspective. If you are up for it please drop me an email and we can take it from there.

  3. Hi James

    I cannot agree with you more on this topic. It says in the bible that we should forgive others and I found that to be very helpful.

    To forgive someone is a blessing because if we do not do it, then it will turn us into a bitter person. It is like carrying a bag full of stones with us. The person that did something wrong to us might have already forgotten about you and now you are still hating the person for it.

    • Thank you much for your thoughts. I have found forgiveness to be a huge benefit in my life and I have been much happier ever since I have taken it to heart.

      Also, learning to forgive yourself is just as important as forgiving others. Just as in your example above, carrying that hate needs to be forgiven on both fronts.

  4. i absolutley and genuinely loved this post, i know im going to fill my life with forgiveness now. you made so many awesome points but the one about war and terror really clicked! I’d hate to be the one to tell you how to run your site but if anyone where to appreiate honesty it would be you, a little feedback is your paragraphs are a bit long, the topic would keep me interested but then i here see the next huge paragraph and think oh here we go haha. But besides that, you made me visit the golden rule and it was also awesome. thanks for the post and i hope thos helps 🙂

    • Nathan,

      I am glad to hear that my content here was able to click for you, that is what this site is all about. I have learned that it definitely helps to use stories as examples to help people get a better understanding of what I am working on saying.

      I also appreciate the feedback as well and know that it is not lost on me. I have been working on the paragraph size and making sure it is not that bad. Just is a bit harder with this kind of content because it feels like there is so much to say about each specific topic. Alas though, I will work on it!

      James W D

  5. WOW!

    Brilliant article and raises many questions in as to the relationship between forgiveness and the Buddhist concept of being mindful.

    Being mindful is quite difficult to put into words but i’ll give it a shot! Being aware of one’s self and the entire cause and effect (causality). Being aware that if I do something I will have a cause and an effect on something else (be it a good thing or a bad thing) thus must be mindful and aware at all times.

    To relate to your road rage analogy, I almost got run over while crossing road by a driver that really was not paying attention… normally I’d have thrown a fit in rage, however I was mindful, aware of what was building up and was able to take a step back and let it go…and that was it a micro second and gone! instead of getting angry and that anger brewing a second stress or ruined day just that was it!

    Did not quite forgive the driver as such but totally “let it go” aware that any negative actions (or positive for that matter) would have had repercussions.

    Mindfulness I could use a metaphor in saying it like being your own coach but in real time.

    Interesting to know your views on Mindfulness Vs .forgiveness (within that concept of being aware of one’s self) as they do seem to be very similar.

    • Derek,

      I am glad that this article had a profound effect for you. You are very correct in that mindfulness is very similar and plays a role as you have stated. Matter of fact you have my wheels turning a bit more and I will definitely take a deeper look into Mindfulness versus forgiveness.

      Your story here though is awesome! How many of us would have let that moment ruin our mood and our day? I am glad that in this case you were able to forgive yourself, and hopefully you will learn how to translate that to the other parties as well.

      I will be looking to write something up to share my views on mindfulness for you. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you again!

      James W D

  6. What an interesting article… So you’ve just chosen to take a different perspective on EVERYTHING in life and made the decision to not get mad at anything? Very impressive.

    I noticed you said you were doing what you can to become enlightened. What type of things have you done? I find myself on the same journey.

    • Jay,

      Honestly I am still working on the not getting mad part. I used to let just about anything set me off, but with each passing day I work more and more towards overcoming that particular short fall of mine.

      Forgiveness has played a huge role in that for me as well as taking different perspectives. I always try to see the whole picture and not just my view of it and I have found that to help greatly.

      As for what I have done so far? I lot of reading of various sorts of materials, from books to online and everything in between. I will be sharing some of the books that really made an impact for me in the upcoming year here, so stick around and I will continue to share my journey to enlightenment.

      James W D

  7. I have went through my process of understanding forgiveness for sure. I used to be a really bad loser in sports and overall everything. I slowly gained the ability to accept losing and shake hands.. the same goes for overall everything.. if someone makes a mistake I instantly say, it’s ok man.. I don’t hold the horn in the car when someone pulls out infront of me and flip them off I just forget it and moooveee on! 🙂 Relationships I struggled with too. when they cheat on me.. but I just mooove on.

    • Bill, I can certainly understand where you are coming from. I used to be a very competitive guy myself and always took losing hard. However as I grew older I began to realize that if I won every time it would be boring and why bother to even play? It is life’s unknowns and tough times that really help each one of us to define themselves. I am glad that you have learned how to move on when something is not worth staying for, that in itself is a very valuable skill. Thank you very much for sharing!

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