Someone close to me is emotionally stuck on certain negative events that happened in her life decades ago. She talks about them in great detail and tells others how she felt when these things happened to her. Listening over and over again to her retelling of these events doesn't seem to help her move forward and get past what happened.
It's as though she has a list in her head and she mentally checks these things off every day to remind herself that someone did something wrong to her. It is sad and frustrating to watch someone concentrate on the same past events and yet not be able to say good-bye to them.
Constantly being a part of this conversation is teaching me in a new way about being positive about life and truly forgiving. Not just saying you're sorry or accepting someone else's apology because you are expected to, but really and truly getting it out of your system and meaning it.
Bad things, unfair things and nasty things do happen to us. Unfortunately that's what happens in life. But great things, positive things, happy things also happen to us. It's up to us to either choose the negative or the positive and then go ahead and live our lives.
A friend explained it to me this way: if you decide to hold on to something that makes you angry or "wronged," then every day you have to find the negative energy within yourself to go over that event and how it felt and what you think should have happened instead of what did actually happen.
That's a lot of baggage to drag around.
Instead, forgiveness is something you practice once. You look at what happened, realize we are all human and make mistakes, forgive and then let it go. Really let it go. And then move on.
A colleague at work has the following saying about forgiveness taped to her desk. The author is unknown but every time I read it I stop and think about what it means and commit to bringing the spirit of forgiveness into my life.
Here's the saying:
"Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
It is the act of untying yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense committed against you.
When you embrace forgiveness, you embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy."