How to Make a Better You – Let the Past Be the Past – Learn to Forgive
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
by Nina Sabin - Healthy Tip
Do you know we all harbor bitterness from the past? We keep things from the past stored up in our brains and hearts. We let things eat us up inside which can cause physical and mental harm to our well-being. You have heard the saying “we are our worst enemy”. Well, that it is not too far off from the truth. We don’t allow ourselves to forgive others or ourselves. We run the past over and over in our minds. We don’t know how to let go, or so often don’t want to let go. It is like punishing ourselves for things that happened in the past and can’t seem to leave it there in the past.
Recently, we lost a friend who took his life because the problems from the past never seem to go away. He couldn’t see anyway to forgive himself or others. He struggled with depression which affected his thoughts and eventually he saw no way out. This is the reality that can happened when we don’t let go of the past and learn to forgive. Depression is a horrible disease that can cause chemicals in your brain to be off balanced. Our lack of letting go of the past and not forgiving can affect those chemicals. So please before there seems to be no way out let go of the past and learn to forgive.
God demonstrates those traits by providing grace and mercy. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines grace as: 1) unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification, 2) virtue coming from God, and 3) a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance. The Bible says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:8-10). God has designed us to experience grace because he loves us so much. He wants us to experience the fullness of life- we are his handiwork. He does not want us to suffer from things of the past or even from ourselves. If God can give us grace, so should we not give ourselves and give others grace?
Mercy is defined as : 1) a compassion or (forbearance) shown especially to an offender, 2) lenient or compassionate treatment, and 3) a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion. God’s mercy is bigger than any mistake we have made. What does the Bible say about mercy? Nobody is perfect, and He knows we have all fallen short of his glory. Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22 – 23). So the next time someone hurts you or you feel like you can’t forgive yourself from your mistake remember God gives you mercy and you should follow his example. Each day is a new day, we should let go of the past, forgive, and move on to experience the richness of life that God has in store for us.
How do we learn to let go of the past and forgive? Everything we do in life is a choice. It may not be easy to let go of the past and learn to forgive, but it is possible. It begins with grace and mercy we previously talked about. Nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes. Instead of focusing on those mistakes, learn from them.
In How to Forgive Yourself and Others, Marc Chernoff suggests three ways that lead to healing.
1) First, you need to start with forgiving yourself. Often we tend to blame ourselves for what happened in the past, even though most of the time, it is not your fault. We all do things we aren’t proud of. What you need to remember is you were doing the best you could at the time, with the experiences and knowledge you had accessible to Acknowledging your mistakes is always half the battle.
Here are some tips Chernoff suggests to forgiving yourself:
· Pick an area of your life you would like to work on. It could be failed relationships, family problems, or business mistakes.
· Make a list of all of the people you might have hurt along the way. This is the toughest part because we tend to bury some of these stressful memories. So be honest with yourself and take your time.
· After you’ve compiled your list, systematically go through each person on the list. Think about the situation, validate the circumstances, and forgive yourself for hurting them. As odd as it may feel, apologize aloud to yourself, “I forgive myself for hurting this person,” and take a deep breath. Once you’ve completed this practice you’ll instantly feel a slight sense of relief.
2) Second, ask for forgiveness. Once you forgive yourself, it’s time to have an in person apology with the other person. A face to face apology is always the most effective approach. Depending on the situation, you might not be comfortable or even afraid to ask for forgiveness. However, for your future and theirs you need to take this step to healing, moving on, and feeling better.
Here are tips Chernoff provides for asking for forgiveness.
Tips for asking for forgiveness:
· Don’t do it out of spite, or because you think it will elevate you to higher moral ground. No good ever arises from deception.
· Realize can’t undo the past damage. It might not be enough to change your relationship with the recipient, but it’s a significant step in the right direction.
· Explain your rationale, but don’t make excuses for your behavior. Own up to your actions and take responsibility. Offer to fix the situation, or find a way to make it up to the person.
· Make a sincere wish for the well-being of the person you hurt. After many years of festering emotions, you may have come to hate the act of thinking about this person. Stop being selfish! It’s time to be honest and compassionate.
3) Third, forgive others. Many times it tends to be easier to forgive others than yourself, that is why we recommend you forgive yourself and then others. You don’t have to keep suffering from being hurt in the past. You have the power to end the hurt by clearing the air and forgiving those who have hurt you.
Here are his tips to help you forgive others.
Tips for forgiving others:
· Close your eyes and picture the person standing in front of you.
· In your mind’s eye, explain to them how you felt then, how you feel now, and what happened during those hurtful times.
· After you’ve stated your views, let them acknowledge your pain. Watch their reactions and wait for a response. There’s a good chance they will understand your point of view.
· Then hug them and tell them that you forgive them. Yes! Really do this with all of your emotional might, it’s a powerful process! Release them from your troubled past and let your thoughts come back to the present.
Don’t let the past eat you up. Start now by letting go of the past and learn to forgive to “Make a Better You.”