How can practicing forgiveness change your life?

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Answered by: Kristie, An Expert in the Empowerment Category
Experience Freedom in Forgiveness

There are a million things we can find conflict with every day. We find it in our relationships with family, friends, coworkers and significant others; at work, at school or in social and political situations. The world is inherently a place of mistakes and wrong-doing. However, when we allow ourselves to get stuck in the drama we eventually feel disempowered and disillusioned. Forgiving and letting go is the best way to change your life into one of more peace, happiness and freedom.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and the topic of most of our conversation dealt with the new family dynamics that she inherited when she recently married. She now has a stepchild whose mother she thinks is controlling, a sister in law whom she finds emotionally abusive of the two children she is raising alone, and a brother in law who is devastated because his wife left him and took their two children with her. My friend is struggling with how difficult it is not to pass judgment or interfere in these situations. This is not to say that we should not do something helpful in these situations, but rather our actions can be motivated by compassion rather than judgment.

It is easy to see wrong-doing outside of us or to think about how we would do things better than others, but what do we gain from this standpoint? The gain is a feeling of self-righteousness. It's identical to a situation where one child tattles on other. The child points out that the other has done something wrong because then he or she gets to be "the good child." It is as if they are saying "look, they are doing this bad thing but I am not; I am the good one." This is how we look for self-worth outside of ourselves. When we really begin to practice letting go of our judgments of other people's lives we become increasingly more empowered in our own.

What are you committed to?

We are living in a world of people who want to play God; but it is not our job to say what is good and what is bad. This only keeps us in conflict and suffering. In some situations we may not be able to see another as good; but we can at least work on not seeing them as bad. These are the thoughts that take away from our own peace of mind. When we feel ourselves getting caught up in conflicted feelings, we can take time to notice our thoughts and see that, when we are thinking these thoughts, we feel conflicted. We can then ask ourselves if we are more committed to holding on to our judgments, or letting go and experiencing the freedom of a clear mind.

There is a powerful saying, mostly attributed to the philosopher Plato: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Compassion is essential to developing a sense of peace. Everyone struggles in their own way. The best thing we can do for ourselves and others is to have compassion even when it takes letting go of things we don't approve of. Being compassionate is not condoning poor behavior; it is only helping people to see that they are not their behavior and that they can choose differently. Practicing compassion and forgiveness is a way to change your life; and in the process, you may be an inspiration for others to change theirs as well.

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