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Early Stages of Learning Forgiveness
As children, we often learn that if we apologize for something we did wrong, all will be forgiven. I have many memories of asking for forgiveness whether it was to my parents, sisters, and friends. As an adult, I learned that forgiveness can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
Although I was raised in a Jewish home, we did not attend synagogue regularly. We mainly went during the High Holidays. I learned the meaning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur from going to services. It meant apologizing to God for wrongs committed and asking for forgiveness. Traditionally on Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, we also ask for forgiveness from others. Part of this involves stating “To those, I may have wronged, I ask forgiveness.”
I recall explaining the holiday to my non-Jewish friends. I probably oversimplified it but would equate that day to my friends who went to confession at church. They asked for forgiveness as often as needed; we saved it up for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Key to Immunity
It took me a long time to see the impact of holding on to anger or resentment. Its effects were not just emotional but physical. When I look back on the most difficult challenges I have been confronted with, I see a direct correlation between those challenges and my physical health.
Once I began noticing this pattern, I realized I needed to make changes for no other reason than it was damaging my immunity.
How Do You Practice Forgiveness
Learning to forgive is not easy. What is angering or upsetting can be something inconsequential or maleficent.
My initial journey was to block out the noise. If someone was doing or saying something that made me angry or was hurtful, I would tune them out and mentally tell myself not to listen or react.
While it certainly helped at that moment, the anger still festered. Looking back, I know at the worse time in my life, the anger I was holding onto led to an overall imbalance. I was lethargic, not sleeping, tense, anxious and my breathing was irregular. I knew I needed to forgive but that too was painful. How do you forgive someone or something that has inflicted pain?
Tools That Helped On My Journey
Under normal conditions, I thought myself balanced. To lose this sense of balance was destroying me. I knew I needed to let go and move on. In fact, the word I chose for the upcoming year was Release. By wearing this word, it would serve as a daily reminder to release any negative feelings and find forgiveness.
Other practices I incorporated include:
- Spiritual guidance
- Listening to music
- Reading Affirmations
I wish I could point to one practice that was the impetus between my understanding that to regain my balance and find peace. It was more a culmination of all of these practices.
What Forgiveness Means to Me
Once I started practicing forgiveness, I realized I was able to achieve my former balance. Holding on to anger, resentment, bitterness is destructive and honestly, depleting. Forgiveness gave me power and energy, By power, I simply mean that I was able to consciously choose not to allow situations or people to cause me to react with anger. When I incorporate forgiveness into my life, I feel at peace.
One Final Thought
There are many affirmations on what forgiveness means. One of many affirmations that resonates with me states:
“Forgive anyone (I added in anything) that has caused you pain or harm. Keep in mind that forgiving is not for others. It is for you. Forgiving is not forgetting. It is remembering without anger. It frees up your power, heals your body, mind, and spirit. Forgiveness opens up a pathway to a new place of peace where you can persist despite what has happened to you.” – Les Brown
Many of my friends also practice forgiveness. We’ve discussed how liberating it truly is, freeing our souls and allowing us to redirect our energy.
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