I admit I've made some awful mistakes in my life. I've said things that shouldn't have been expressed (or perhaps expressed differently), and I've remained quiet when I should have spoken up. I've pulled away from people I really felt close to, and I've allowed frustration to persist far too long.
I'm not proud of these faults, and I feel bad about the hurt I've caused others...even inadvertently. Many of us are thinking about conducting ourselves differently this year, and to me that includes the idea of forgiveness.
After a lot of reflection, I believe my mistakes usually happen after I've somehow been hurt myself. Either my ego needs were not being met or I didn't believe myself worthy or capable of anything else in that moment. It's about relationships and expectations, and being able to communicate how we really feel.
In my opinion, forgiveness doesn't mean what happened was okay. It means we're ready to move on from feeling terrible about it.
Consider asking a loved one for their forgiveness if you've hurt them. Acknowledge their pain and your empathy. Assure them their forgiveness won't endorse the mistake, but will instead allow you both to continue building your
Consider forgiving others if you've been hurt. You don't even have to say the words, "I forgive you," just let them know you're ready to move on. Your willingness to go forward without malice may open up new insights both personally for you and in your relationships.
As in many families, there was unfinished business between us when my son David was killed suddenly over a year and a half ago. At his funeral the Rabbi led us in what I call a forgiveness exercise that I found powerful, and I offer it
In our minds we asked David to forgive us for anything that was misunderstood, unsaid, undone, or incomplete. And we imagined him bestowing total forgiveness without hesitation and with great love.
Then we imagined David asking our forgiveness for anything that was misunderstood, unsaid, undone, or incomplete. With full hearts and no hesitation we envisioned ourselves completely forgiving him as well.
This exercise isn't only for circumstances of death, but is equally effective in any situation where communication (for any reason) isn't possible or likely.
There is one last person I haven't yet discussed forgiving. Myself. Yourself. Ourselves. We are the most difficult person to forgive because we're generally the hardest on ourselves.
This is the most important time to remember it doesn't mean the mistake was okay (even if it was understandable). You're acknowledging you're ready to move on from all the suffering attached to it. Releasing that suffering brings transformation in the form of serenity, peace, and a feeling of lightness that energizes your being.
And, after all, isn't that what we're all looking for in 2013?
Essays on Grief Resilience