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7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You

7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You

Its been said that forgiveness is never free. Someone has paid the price in some way. So how can you attain freedom through forgiveness?

Well, yes, you’ve guessed it. You have probably paid the price. But the freedom you will attain through forgiveness far exceeds the pain, anguish, suffering, struggle, resentment  or angst you are suffering or have suffered. It seems hard to believe this works, but it is quite true.

When you have been hurt, purposefully or not, that pain is an emotionally heavy burden. If you allow yourself to hang onto it and keep lamenting over it, you only recirculate that negative energy and pain with which it was created. It will become a physical and emotional burden, a heavy backpack weighing you down. Physiologically and biochemically you will just keep recreating a circular pattern of pain and hurt within your body. But there is an escape route..if and only if you desire it, you will create it meaningfully and you will live it.

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It’s called forgiveness.

Lets be clear. It’s no magic bullet. Just because you tell yourself or someone you “forgive her” for her actions or behavior doesn’t mean your emotional pain and memory will be magically erased. Guess what? The memories may still linger. But each time they resurface, you will whisper a different message to yourself. A message of understanding, compassion and blessings.

There are plenty of ways forgiveness frees you and affords you freedom from past hurt, pain and suffering. But let’s just start with the magic number seven:

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1. Forgiveness allows for greater understanding.

To even begin the process of forgiving someone who has wronged you, you must be able to understand this person’s position or point of view. You don’t have to agree with it, you just need to understand it. You need to walk in their shoes for a short time. This is difficult because You are not Them! You don’t possess their characteristics, background, nor their prior conditioning. You didn’t experience what they did, yet, by learning to understand what they were thinking when they said or did things which hurt you, you open the door to empathy. This frees you by allowing you to expand your own feelings to those of others.

 2. Forgiveness brings forth your most compassionate self.

Along with understanding, you must learn to develop compassion in order to forgive another. Compassion is the concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Mother Teresa had great compassion for the poor, homeless and the hungry. She felt true compassion for those who were unwanted, unloved and uncared for. Forgiveness requires your sincere compassion for the behavior of the individual who hurt you and your inspired desire to help. This frees you by allowing yourself not only to feel what others may be going through, but to “give” of your heart to relieve them of their suffering.

3. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past.

One of the greatest benefits of forgiveness is that is releases YOU from the bondage of your past pain and suffering. Most people think forgiving another helps the other person who caused the pain. Yes, it may, but greater than that, it allows you (as a victim) the freedom from your own suffering. How beautiful is that? The pure act of forgiveness rewires your emotional chemistry. You no longer need to keep replaying the same painful message. Your body, mind and spirit can finally be in unison.

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4. Forgiveness calms you.

When you  feel compassion and begin to forgive another, it actually calms you. Your heart rate decreases and you release the bonding hormone oxytocin. Forgiveness has a myriad of physical benefits and helps to free your physical body from the propensity to develop chronic illness and disease. Some health benefits of forgiveness  include:

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health

5. Forgiveness creates great inner strength.

Being able to forgive someone who has harmed you is a very powerful quality. It takes great strength, understanding, and compassion. It also requires time and patience. These qualities build upon your strength of character and help you to realize that you too are human and have faults. By recognizing and acknowledging your own shortcomings, you develop great self esteem and the ability to view everyone as an equal. No one is greater or worse…each person is on their own path. You begin to develop tolerance for each unique person and their choices. You experience freedom from the judgment of others.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi~

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6. Forgiveness opens gates to a bigger spiritual picture.

Forgiveness requires spirituality on some level. Even if you are not a religious person, your ability to truly forgive another opens a beautiful spiritual door. With forgiveness you begin to experience life on a much different level. Forgiveness is not solely a task or a left brained exercise. It becomes attached to your emotional side–the limbic system of your brain...particularly..the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain which deals with your emotion, and somewhere amidst this brain centered activity is your sense of spirituality.

Some brain researchers claim spirituality is linked to activity in the right parietal lobe. Others say many more parts of the brain are involved. Regardless, the interplay  of forgiveness and spirituality helps you to view a painful event with a much broader perspective. Feel blessed you are able to see these hurtful events in a much bigger way, leading you to greater understanding.

7. Forgiveness paves the path for resilience and happiness.

Forgiveness is just the prelude to living a happier, healthy life. It paves the way for you to create resilience, which translates into your ability to move through many of life’s challenges and difficulties. It allows you to create better relationships and optimize your well-being. Ultimately, forgiveness frees you and allows you to enjoy and extend your happiness in life, hopefully making your long life one of fulfillment, passion, contentment and giving. Isn’t that really the way you desire to live out your heartbeats?

Only you can choose forgiveness. You need to truly be ready to forgive from the depths of your soul, from your heart of hearts. It has to be real, authentic and actualized, not just words you utter, but enacted with a depth of feeling.

So set yourself free!

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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