Holistic Lifestyle Design for Modern People

Heal Your Life  by Unleashing the Power of Mindfulness to Forgive Others

 

Mindfulness

Mindfully Forgive

Adopting a peaceful and loving lifestyle is the path that will lead you to being more mindful and forgiving of others. The pain you feel is often internal when you carry grudges, sadness, or disappointed feelings around with you. The person or persons these feelings are directed at may not feel anything at all. They may be unable to see the pain they caused or even lack the ability to care that they have caused your troubled emotions. By learning how to forgive others using mindfulness, you will be able to heal your life, feel a weight lifted off of your soul, and forget about the old traumas that have plagued you. You are going to learn how to forgive others, be at peace with yourself, as well as gain a better understanding of what mindfulness truly means.

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as “a quality or state of being aware or conscious of something.” According to Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is achieved when you are aware of the present moment or of reality, where you are able to calmly accept your feelings, thoughts, and sensations.

Mindfulness is a way to accept others for who they are, their own thoughts, and feelings, without judging them. It is also about letting go of the thoughts that there is a “right” or “wrong” in how one thinks, feels, or experiences reality.

Using mindfulness techniques, a person is able to forget about the past and not dwell on what the future can be.

Mindfulness can be highly beneficial because we are able to let go of materialistic or unrealistic thoughts and just exist in the moment. There are several benefits of mindfulness, such as:

  • Helping our body fight illness;
  • Gaining positive thoughts to ease a stressful life and negative emotions;
  • Increasing our memory, empathy, learning, and emotion regulation;
  • Obtaining more focus;
  • Increasing our relationships;
  • Fostering compassion;
  • And reducing incorrect habits.

Wouldn’t life be more tolerable if you could live in the moment and take what comes your way, whether it is negative or positive? What if you could forgive what has happened, and focus on what is, versus the future of what may be? It is possible because of the benefits of mindfulness and what it means to gain more focus in your life.

Studies show that individuals who practice mindfulness are healthier and less stressed than individuals who go through life with a negative attitude.

How to Use Mindfulness to Forgive

Each person has experienced pain in their past. For some, it might have come from a parent or an adult the person looked up to. For another, it was someone they loved who betrayed their trust. Mindfulness can be used to accept the feelings of anger, sadness, or betrayal that you have and to move on from them. Your path to a freer you, begins with knowing what is hurting you the most.

Create a list of people who you feel have hurt you deeply. You may only have one name on the list. The people you name will need to be ranked on a scale from one to ten. How much pain do you feel from this person’s treatment of you? One should be the least amount of pain, and ten will be the most pain you feel.

List the offense that is bothering you. Did the person say something that hurts your feelings? Did they betray your trust? Did they treat you differently than someone else? There are levels of harm both psychological and physical that can be affecting you.

In another column, write how the offense is negatively impacting your life? Is it stressing you out? Do you dwell on this pain?

Look at their side of the incident. Was there something that provoked the attack? Was the personal affront warranted due to your behavior or something in their own behavior that created the situation that hurt you deeply?

Being able to forgive is about recognizing your feelings, your reaction to a situation, and how justified the other person is in their behavior. If the behavior is unjustified—is it that you have high standards or something that truly harmed you beyond all ethical notions?

An Example: A person in her jealousy started getting more catty in her responses to a friend. Things in her own life and family were not doing well, but she didn’t feel she could tell her friend. Finally, the person receiving the change in attitude felt it was enough and told the friend they would never speak again. In this example, the friend was jealous, she took those emotions out on her friend, but instead of the friend recognizing there were tumultuous emotions not directed solely at her, she ended the friendship.

An Example: A person has never thought of others, only themselves. It is what they want and all about what they want, regardless of who it hurts. After nearly two decades of marriage, this person has an affair and breaks up a family. Even after the divorce, the person continues to want to be the center of attention. The spouse is hurt, angry, and sad. The adultery feels unforgivable, as all other behavior seems unforgivable during the marriage.

In the first example, any behavior that was lacking manners or rude was unacceptable, and unforgivable. In the second example, the commandments were broken. If you compare the two, being rude due to person feelings is something that can be forgiven with understanding. The second issue resulted in unethical acts that the spouse may be able to eventually forgive, but it has truly harmed the spouse psychologically. Using these examples, you can determine if certain behaviors are justified in the other person’s mind and thus easier for you to forgive.

Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. Reconciliation is about establishing mutual trust with the person again. Forgiveness is about letting go of your feelings and the need for justice, while focusing on the positives.

Mindfulness is not asking you to condone or excuse the behavior of others, but to look for understanding of why the other person may have hurt you or have pain. There are numerous reasons someone feels justified in hurting another person, even if they are not the one to provide the pain they experienced.

An Example: a young eight-year-old understands it is unacceptable to show anger, question her mother, or even tell the truth about her feelings and the conflicting emotions she has. She knows not to utter anything that opposes her mother and to say everything that her mother wishes to hear. Towards her father, this young girl acts out, uses disrespectful manners, and lets out the anger and confusion she feels. These displays of disrespect are still not acceptable to the other parent, but the young child has nothing to fear from her father, unlike the fear she has towards her mother.

In the little girl’s mind, it is acceptable to have feelings and express emotions, no matter how rude or disrespectful she is towards her father because it is the only outlet she has for those emotions.

Of course, to us it is not acceptable. As adults, such disrespect and constant behavior are inappropriate. Yet, to her because she doesn’t understand any other way of being, she uses the outlet that is safest.

You could just think the girl is rude, manner-less, and her parents teach her nothing about ethics and respect. For someone who is more mindful, you will take the time to look at why the emotions seem to occur and what can be done to help this little girl find an appropriate outlet. Furthermore, you, as a mindful individual, will forgive the inappropriate behavior as you try to correct it with important teachings.

How to Find Peace

If you assess what mindfulness is and how to use it to forgive others, then you will be on your way to understanding how to find peace within yourself. Peace is the next step on your path to forgiveness of others.

You are not going to be a doormat for someone to trample or condone inappropriate behavior to give a young child an outlet. However, you are going to understand another’s feelings, understand your own, and find a way to live with what is.

Peace, and finding that peace, is about accepting “what is.” “What you cannot change will make you stronger,” you might have heard this statement. It is a very important statement to remember. There are things in your life that you cannot change, no matter how much you wish to, but it is also these things that help you find your strength.

You cannot change another, no matter how hard you try, you are unable to change another. The other person has to want to change. Like our eight-year-old girl example. This eight-year-old has to want to change, to want to be happy and mindful of others, while finding an appropriate outlet for her pain, in order to actually change. If she doesn’t want to change or evolve into a loveable person, then she will continue on her own destructive path.

Only you can change yourself. You have to want to change to be more mindful, to find peace, and to accept others for who they are.

An Example: A 30 something woman finds it difficult to accept her current life, but she loves what she does for a living. She feels jealousy because others around her have more, they seem to have a good life, people who care about them, and travel.

She decides that she cannot live with the pain. She begins to learn about mindfulness and inner peace. Something strikes a chord within herself. It is the knowledge that only she can make herself happy.

This young woman looks at what is good in her life. She accepts that while not the “best” or “most perfect” what she has attained are personal accomplishments that make her happy. She realizes that in life the people who love her and are there for her are more important than the what ifs or the failures that could result if she makes new friends.

When you find peace, you accept reality for what it is. You learn to accept behaviors in others that you do not like, you either point them out and ask the person to work on them or you shy away from that person and find those who are likeable.

More than anything, you need to give up the desire for material things. Perhaps the wisest saying of all is this: “what you amass in your life cannot go with you in your death. We all end up as nothing more than the minerals and nutrients we are made of.” In other words, a dead rich man is still dead, and it is only his heirs that reap the benefits of what he was able to gain in life. You cannot take your TV, PS4, Wii, home, or any other material things with you when you die.

If you can accept that one truth of life and death, then you can find peace.

The Practical Workbook for Mindfully Forgiving Others

Letting go of the pain you have been dealt is easy enough to write about, but it is harder to actually do. How are you going to be able to forgive others by being more mindful of others and yourself? The practical steps in this section are aimed at helping you find the answers within yourself to achieve forgiveness through mindfulness, and ultimately find peace.

  1. Begin with cognitive exercises. Ask yourself questions regarding the person you need to forgive. How did this person grow up? Were they taught the same lessons as you? Did they receive unbearable pain? What stresses or pressures has the person had to face growing up, as well as in their life now? This exercise is about assessing the psychology of another person. Psychology believes that one can be nurtured and schooled in behaviors that they exhibit. Someone who does not receive love, affection, and attention is more apt to seek these three things by any means necessary versus the person who did receive these things in life.
  2. How have your interactions or reactions been similar to what the person has experienced in their life? For instance, if someone is told “you are better than anyone else because you have the prestige of your genetics and wealth,” do you think the person is going to act holier than thou to others they deem less worthy? Of course, they will. If you act like they are the best person in the world, then you are helping to perpetuate what they have been told. If you react by feeling inferior to this person, then you are giving into what they think about you. What if a person has been mentally abused with yelling and screaming, and you react in a stern, negative manner to all things they ask you for? Chances are they will react as they always have to the mental abuse. So it is not only in how the person was raised or what they experienced, but in how you react or interact with the person that may have caused the pain they dealt you.
  3. Correct your own negative thoughts about yourself. Yes, you may have been told negative things about yourself. You may have developed these thoughts due to increased stress based on things that happened to you. However, you cannot forgive others or find peace, if you continue to dwell in the negative emotions. You have to correct your own negative emotions by facing them.
  1. Write down a situation where you reacted negatively.
  2. What was your reaction?
  3. What situation brought on this reaction?
  4. Could you have avoided the situation?
  5. Write down at least five ways you could have reacted better.
  6. When a similar situation occurs, stop, think, listen, and remember. Use one of the five ways you can react better to a situation, such as with more positive feelings to combat the negative thoughts.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
  1. Wait for the feeling to move in your heart. Do you have a feeling that perhaps a person is not as bad as you think? It may not happen right away. It may take some research into discovering the person’s past that makes them act horribly towards you.
  2. When you feel your heart’s compassion for another, then you will be able to forgive their actions towards you.
  3. Once you have allowed for forgiveness, you will feel a sliver more of peace enter your heart.

Other Practical Mindfulness Steps

You may be unable to look outside of yourself as you begin to learn how to be more mindful and forgive those around you. It can take practice. The steps in this section are about gaining the practical ability to attain mindfulness as a way to learn how to forgive.

  1. Walk into work and observe the people you work with. What are they wearing? What tasks are they doing well?
  2. Tomorrow, go into work, and give someone a compliment. It needs to be from the heart, and based on something you note about the person. For example, is the person wearing a prettier outfit than the day before, when you observed them? Did the person accomplish a task today better than yesterday?
  3. Go to your favorite coffee shop. Ask the cashier to recommend a drink. Try that drink. While you do not know it, you have just been mindful. You are respecting the person and their knowledge about coffee. You have also given them something to show off in their skills. It doesn’t mean you need to like their suggestion, but you have at least considered their opinion.
  4. Tomorrow go to the same coffee shop, pay for the person in front or behind you. Even if you cannot truly afford to buy someone else’s coffee, do so. You’ll just have to forgo tomorrow’s coffee. However, in paying for someone else’s drink, you are being mindful of that person, you are acknowledging that they exist. It is not to make yourself feel better, but to say “hey, you matter and I noticed you are here.”
  5. On a day off, go to a park, zoo, or other public area. Instead, of looking around at the exhibits, store windows, or paying attention to a person who came with you, observe those around you. Look for different emotions being displayed. Do you see someone with children who is frazzled? Does a single person look like they are running late? Is there a particularly happy person? See these emotions and feel the impact they have on you. What you want to feel is empathy. You want to acknowledge that someone is struggling or feel elated because someone else is happy.

When you do these little things, it will start to have an impact on how you think and feel. You can look at a scene that seems petty and juvenile and attribute it to something that happened in your life. You might look at the same scene and know that something like that has never happened to you, thus your life is a little better. More than anything, you want to find empathy for the person who is struggling.

The suggestions in the workbook are simply that. They have been given to help you find a way to be more mindful and to regain your empathy. Once you regain your own empathy and reflect on your interactions and reactions in situations, you are going to find forgiveness towards others is easier. As soon as you are able to forgive those that have slighted you or truly impacted your way of thinking, then you can find peace. Peace is when you are content with your life, with your emotions, and how you are more capable of interacting with others.

 

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Marta Tuchowska

 

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