Forgiving: The Key to Break Free

“I never give people second chances,” I proudly used to say. “Once they cross me, they are dead to me!” I thought I was so cool by stating this. Now I realize there was absolutely nothing cool about such foolishness. I grew up believing that to forgive was to be weak. I thought I was strong by giving people the silent treatment and ignoring them. When I felt hurt by anyone, I made sure they knew. It wasn’t until I started to work on myself and studied with amazing mentors that I realized the only person I was hurting for so many years, was myself. The people who had “hurt” me had probably long forgotten, while I was still ruminating on the experience.

All of us have been deeply hurt at one point or another in our lives. I am sure there are a few people we can think of right away who we are unable to forgive. Perhaps they lied to us, or abused our trust. Or perhaps it was something even more serious such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse. We can justify our anger and give several reasons why this person is “unforgivable.” We believe we can get back at them by “hating” them for life.  They shall never receive our forgiveness. But who is really suffering? In her transformational book, You Can Heal Your Life, author Louise Hay says “being unwilling to forgive is a terrible thing to do to ourselves. Bitterness is like swallowing a teaspoon of poison every day. It accumulates and harms us. It’s impossible to be healthy and free when we keep ourselves bound to the past.”  I know several people very close to me who have the mentality of “I shall never forgive” and constantly bring up all the stories of how they were betrayed or hurt. As they speak of their story, they either get really angry or start crying. They are re-living the situation time and time again. They are stuck in the past and refuse to move on.

Most of us feel that if we forgive people, we are excusing their behavior. This is not the case. What we are really doing is freeing ourselves from the prison we created. It never feels good to be bitter, resentful, angry or vengeful. Best-selling author Marianne Williamson says “holding on to judgment, blame, attack, defense, victimization, and so forth are absolutely attacks on yourself.” We are truly not hurting anyone but ourselves by holding on to our grudges. We believe we are being powerful and strong, but we are actually being very weak. Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on. In his amazing book, Love is Letting Go of Fear, Dr. Gerald Jampolsky says “forgiveness does not mean assuming a position of superiority and putting up with or tolerating behavior in another person that we do not like. Forgiveness means correcting our misperception that the other person harmed us.”  Many people do not like to hear this, but nothing anyone ever does to us matters; what matters is how we choose to react to it.  When we are wronged by someone, we have choices. We can decide to learn a powerful lesson, forgive and move on, or we can decide to never forgive and in turn hurt ourselves and drink the poison. The choice is ours. Marianne Williamson continues by saying that “nothing anyone has ever done to you has permanent effects unless you hold on to it permanently.” Rather than upset us, this should makes us feel good. We can break free and let it go. We can start feeling good again and bless those that wronged us.

One of my favorite quotes from Louise Hay is “one of our biggest spiritual lessons is to understand that ‘everyone’ is doing the best they can at any given moment. People can only do so much with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that they have.” Something that really helps me on a day to day basis is that when someone mistreats me, I realize that only someone who is in a great deal of pain could possibly want to hurt another human being. So if someone is rude to me, rather than take it personally, I realize that person is hurting inside. The greater level of violence, the more they are hurting and the more they are in deep pain. Famous Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said “whenever another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” I know many people in my life who are perceived as not very nice and have all had very tough childhoods. I am not excusing their behavior; I am simply understanding their behavior for my own personal growth.

I am not suggesting this is easy. I have personally battled with “forgiveness” issues all my life. But I do know that I am a much happier person than I was a few years ago. This is because I now (more often than not) choose love over fear.  I am “for-giving” love, not hate. Issues still come up, and I am still challenged, but I know the choice is mine. I am not a victim of circumstances; I create my own reality.

I also want to make it very clear that forgiving someone does not have to be in person, holding hands and singing Kumbaiah. You can write them a letter you never send or you can practice a forgiveness meditation in the comfort of your own home. They never have to know. Remember, this is mainly for you. You will know you have forgiven when you can think of them with no ill feelings and wish them well.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. There is an extraordinary story about a man named Dr. Hew Len, who healed a ward of mentally ill criminals. Dr. Len was assigned to one of the most intense mental hospitals in Hawaii; most of the patients were serious criminals who had committed crimes such as murder or rape. The staff was frightened of the patients since there were constant attacks among the patients and toward the staff. Turnover was very high. Once Dr. Len came on board, he requested the files for each patient and would close himself in his office. He would hardly request to see the patients; he was more interested in seeing their files. Eventually, a few patients became less aggressive. Other patients stopped attacking the staff. Staff started to stick around since the environment was becoming progressively better. Ultimately, most of the patients were cured and discharged. The hospital closed a few years later. So what was Dr. Len’s secret? He would grab each file one at a time, place his hand on the file and say a simple Hawaiian prayer called Ho’oponopono that goes “I love You, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank You.”

Yup, that’s it. That’s all it took. I am going to say it again, never underestimate the power of prayer or the power of forgiveness.

Are you ready to forgive and set yourself free?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

Your Soul Mate is Waiting

With tears in my eyes, I watched how my fiancé rode away in the Greyhound bus with a one-way ticket destined to Florida. I never saw him again. We had been together for several years and I was positive that he was “the one.” Sadly, a few years earlier, he became addicted to a harmful substance.

I was very young and naïve. I noticed Greg was behaving differently, but I had no idea what was going on with him. Greg’s behavior worsened. He became extremely jealous, paranoid, angry, depressed, and irresponsible. One day, I caught him having a conversation with his television. That’s when I decided that I was no longer going to put myself through that. Many times when a loved one is going through a hard time we desperately want to “save them”. For months, I tried to “save Greg”, but all in vain. I then realized that I could not save Greg; Greg had to save himself. Today I know the most important reason why I did not stay in the relationship: I love and respect myself. I did not want to stay in a toxic relationship, and I knew I deserved better.

How many times do we stay in a relationship that no longer serves us (or our partners)? We either stay because we hope they will change, feel bad for them, prefer feeling comfortable, or are afraid we will not find a better relationship. We fear the unknown and prefer to be miserable because at least we know what to expect. My Sicilian cousin, Gianni, was in a relationship for over 12 years, and for most of those years it had been an extremely toxic and unhealthy relationship. When I asked why he did not end it, he would always say he felt bad for her. I explained to Gianni that precisely for that reason it wasn’t fair to her, and that the best thing he could do was to end the relationship so she could move on and find someone who truly wanted to be with her. We are doing a disservice by staying in relationships we know are going nowhere. Gianni was standing in the way of his own happiness. Subconsciously, he believed he did not deserve a healthy relationship and that it was too good to be true. It wasn’t until he opened up to the possibility that perhaps his true soul mate was out there waiting for him and understood that relationships are not meant to be a struggle and full of pain. By the grace of God, I convinced him, and he is now in a healthy, loving relationship and recently got engaged. Gianni cannot thank me enough. His ex-girlfriend is now free to find her soul mate as well, rather than staying with someone who simply pitied her.

Too many people live in what I like to call a “life coma.” It seems as if they are living, but they really aren’t. They are just going through the motions. They are in loveless relationships, but make excuses as to why they should stay. “I am doing it for the kids” is a very popular excuse. Quite frankly, I think the best example we can give to our children is to be in loving, positive relationships even if it’s not mommy with daddy. Our children can sense when we are unhappy, so we are setting the example of sacrifice to our children. In essence, we are saying that you must stay in a relationship even if you are miserable for the sake of the kids.

I expected Greg to eventually return healed, so that we could finally get married. However, life had other plans. Months later, I started dating a lovely man named George, fell in love, and for over 12 years we have been going strong. Had you told me at that train station that Greg was not the one I was meant to marry and that someone else was my soul mate, I would have thought you were insane. I believed it with my heart and soul that he was the one. Now I know the true meaning of love, and I could not have chosen a better partner.

Most people go from one relationship to the next. Their deepest fear is to be alone. They act like monkeys; hanging on to the next branch before they let go of the first branch. I do not recommend this. I believe it is essential to take some time off and reflect on the last relationship. We cannot simply blame our ex-partners for what went wrong. We must see what part we played in the relationship as well. Only then, will we truly grow. Chew on this for a bit: are you always attracting partners that cheat, or lie, or criticize you, or___? Then is it safe to say that you have strong beliefs around these issues. If you are always saying things such as “men are all cheaters” please realize that that is exactly what you are going to attract in your life. Our egos want to prove us right, so we keep attracting the same type of people. This all happens on a subconscious level.  The only way to break the pattern and avoid this from happening is to do the inner work. Stop looking for your other half, you are not broken! And stop saying you need someone to “complete” you. The more you work on yourself the more you will attract an amazing partner. Alan Cohen says, “When you fall in love with yourself, you will be irresistible to everyone else.”

Please do not settle for less. We are all meant to have blissful, loving, and respectful relationships. Here are some fun exercises that will assist you in attracting your soul mate.

  1. First you must believe that your soul mate is out there.
  2. Write a list of your perfect mate’s characteristics, leave nothing out. Write physical and emotional traits. Do you want a partner that supports you in your career? That respects you? That is loyal? Write it all down. Make sure your list is positive and in the present tense, for example, write “my partner is loyal” as opposed to “my partner will never cheat”. This is really important.
  3. Write a list of the type of person you need to be in order to attract such a wonderful partner in your life. If you want a positive partner, then you cannot be a negative person. Like attracts like. Or if you want a partner that leads a healthy lifestyle you cannot be the type of person that eats chips and watches TV all day. Take steps towards becoming a better version of yourself.
  4. Know that you DESERVE to have this partner. Write a list of all your wonderful attributes.
  5. Be happy NOW. Schedule fun things to do such as dinner dates with friends, join a yoga class, read an inspiring book or go on a Spiritual retreat. Do things that nourish your soul. Be grateful for what you have now.

Your soul mate is waiting for you. Are you ready to let them in your life?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com