This loaded term is a struggle each and every day. I’m talking about the ‘f’ word in big and small ways: from forgiving your parents to forgiving that person that person who accidentally bumped into you on the street to forgiving your dog who woke you up last night.
Forgiveness is actually a simple idea, but infinitely complicated in practice. It requires compassion–being able to see the other being’s point of view.
Think about it like this: we have a myriad of expectations for life–stories that we use to define the good and the bad of the world. For example, we have expectations for what respect means, how moms and dads are supposed to act, what being a good friend means, what work you’re required to do to succeed, how girlfriends should treat their boyfriends, etc. etc.
If we’re all trying to work from many of these expectations for ourselves and others, can we be everything to everyone all the time? OF COURSE NOT!
Expectations are beautiful, esoteric ideas that work to motivate and inspire. In order to be dynamic and live to your fullest potential, you must expect highly of yourself, simply because you’re incredible. But what are the repercussions of not meeting these expectations? Generally, hate, anger, and separation.
Often we struggle to forgive others, because we neglect to forgive ourselves.
I put insanely high expectations on myself and recently I haven’t been meeting them. Studying for the bar exam has thrown my life off balance. Things that keep me in balance like yoga, reading, and spending time with friends are strained. I have taken days off of my yoga practice. I started watching TV, instead of reading. (I don’t own a television, but my computer works wonders.) I would never call myself a flake, but recently I have been cancelling plans left and right.
I have been beating myself up for not being as dynamic as I want to be. Then I remember that balance is fluid–right now less yoga, TV, and alone time is what I need for balance. I am practicing forgiveness. I am choosing to forgive myself for not being the highest performing Saren all of the time.
Know that we all have our own needs, wants, and expectations. We’re all on a journey, having good days and bad days. When you’re able to acknowledge another person’s struggles and pleasures, which are equally valid to yours, all of a sudden you can’t blame that person for what you perceive as a fault.
Mostly, you can see how not forgiving is actually your weakness. It is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to suffer.
If the thought of forgiving someone is still like a lump in your throat, can you see that this is a remarkable lesson in compassion? In other words, this person, this challenge to forgive, is brought into your life to teach you love and connection. Truly, there is no greater lesson.
Forgive those who have hurt you. Forgive those who don’t meet your expectations. Most of all, forgive yourself.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” -Gandhi