The act of offering a prayer of forgiveness, whether for yourself or for another, is a choice for empowerment; a decision that results in a gift to yourself. This is a gift of freedom - freedom from bitterness that sours life and the misery of grievances that live on only in the mind; freedom from the constant, wearisome battle of attack and defense. It is a choice for liberation; a personal declaration of independence from the beliefs and assumptions that preclude personal happiness and disentangle the mind and heart from ideas of revenge and the perception of victim-hood our psyches use to maintain an illusion of safety.
Forgiveness in this sense is not the same as telling the person who has offended you that their actions or behavior is "okay" and that you have "risen above" the need to retaliate. This kind of mindset merely sets you up as being superior, which opens the door for the next time you need to see yourself as inferior; a victim, wounded and vulnerable. Thinking of this "special" nature will invariably lead to more anger when, once again, things don't go your way.
True forgiveness generates a miraculous change in personal perception and invokes a state of grace. It's this state of grace that gives the alcoholic the strength to accept recovery from drinking or an abused spouse the courage to leave the abuser. Forgiveness allows us to see ourselves from a higher perspective, to accept responsibility for our own happiness and to release ourselves from the prison of the past - past beliefs of guilt and assumptions of being a victim. Forgiveness removes the sense of personal weakness, fear and pain and replaces it with the certainty of your true nature being happiness as it reveals a new, higher vision of yourself and others seen without the restrictions of the past and its inherent associated meanings of lack, limitations and scarcity.
Practicing true forgiveness is a bit foreign at first as we're wont to take it back and have another go at running the universe according to our ideas of how things "should be". When offering a prayer of forgiveness, keeping the following pointers in mind will help if you find yourself struggling with thoughts of getting even:
1. Determine the outcome you want - what is the purpose of your prayer of forgiveness? This is all about you, not the other person, so get very, very clear about what release you want to experience. Ask God to give you the attributes and conditions you wish; the corrected perception, the feelings of freedom and joy, the necessary thoughts, beliefs, actions etc. If you're looking for forgiveness, it's probably quite clear that your way of solving these issues isn't working very well, so try trusting in a Higher Power for a change from the insanity of obsessing about vengeance.
2. Let go of judgement. You don't have the capacity to judge accurately all the events (past, present and future) that has gone into making up the situation as you see it. Turn your judgement over to an authority that has the ability to do so - and leave it there. Have faith and you will experience the results of your faith.
3. Put your energy and attention on the results you want, think from the outcome and come back to now. If you continuously focus on the past, (hurts, anger, vulnerability, etc.) you create the future in the same mold. You must train your mind to stay in this moment, now, as this moment is the only one you have. Learn to see and feel the future as you want it, not as you dread it. The past is dead and gone, so bury it and move on with your life.
4. Be responsible. Accept unconditionally, your responsibility for what is occurring in your life situation and you accept, unconditionally, the power to reinvent your life. Challenge your beliefs and assumptions about how you must behave and how the world must respond to you - reclaim your authority over your life by reclaiming your power from where you've given it away.
By offering a prayer of forgiveness to those you thought had offended, you offer and receive yourself all the benefits held within the miracle of grace. It may feel awkward at first, but by persevering in practicing the four points of: 1. clarity of outcome, 2. not-judgement, 3. attention on what you want and 4. personal responsibility you usher in a new era of happiness and empowerment for yourself. And by empowering yourself, you teach those around you how to do the same - isn't that a gift worth sharing?
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Lorna M. Atkinson is a writer and advocate of reclaiming personal power through the alignment of personality and soul and is dedicated to freeing the mind from limitations learned in the past.