My mother has always been an advocate of forgiveness. When I was a child she taught me early on to let go of being angry with people. If a friend hurt me she suggested that perhaps they didn't realize what they had done. If it was a family member, well, families don't hold grudges. And as Christians, that is what we are told to do: forgive one another as God has forgiven us. Extending mercy towards others has always come easy to me. I've never been one to hold on to resentment or anger.
As a motivational speaker, lecturing on forgiveness is one subject I've always been passionate about because it holds the key to inner peace. We cannot experience joy, love, health, or gratitude if we carry within us bitterness from the past. We cannot experience the full abundance of God's blessings when we live with acrimony and hostility. There are many who want to forgive but don't know how. For those individuals, I show them the steps necessary to achieve serenity.
However, I've since come to the awareness that forgiveness is actually not necessary at all. The reason why God gave us this gift of spiritual healing is because in our ego-centered brains we are quick to judge and label one another. "He's a dead-beat dad." "My sister-in-law is a real witch!" The moment we do so we trigger our own anger.
We also make the mistake of comparing each other: "I would never hurt you the way you just hurt me!" "Your brother is a straight A student. Why can't you be more like him?" And we are quick to criticize others for their perceived faults: "You think you're better/smarter/prettier than everyone else." Add to that the expectations we place on others that are totally unrealistic and unfair: "You're an adult. You should know better than to get drunk when you go out." And to exacerbate matters even more we take personal offense to their words and actions. (Behaviors are merely an outward expression of an internal issue. They have nothing at all to do with the person being targeted.) Judge, label, compare, criticize, expect, take personal offense: add, mix and ingest for one lethal cocktail!
Here's the cycle most of us fall into: You say or do something. I place judgment upon you, compare you, label you, or take personal offense to your actions. I become angry and upset. In order to restore harmony within me I must put forth time and effort to forgive you so that I may once again experience the inner peace I had before this sequence began. Sounds a bit insane doesn't it? It's like having a new pair of shoes, walking through a mud puddle and ruining them and then spending time and effort to restore them to perfection. Why not simply refrain from soiling them from the get go?
So the question becomes: forgive you for what? For being human? For not being who you decided I should be? For not living up to my preconceived notions about where you should be in your personal journey in life? Sounds kind of arrogant and ego-driven to me.
Here are some suggestions to make forgiving obsolete:
1. Do not take personal offense to what others say or do. There behavior is not about you.
2. Remove all comparisons to yourself or others. Allow each individual to be who they are and do what is necessary for their spiritual journey.
3. Practice patience, compassion, kindness, and understanding.
4. Remove all labels and judgments. Be an "objective observer".
5. Love unconditionally - all people, all of the time.
When you achieve a state of full spiritual awareness you remove all judgment, expectations, labels, and demands from yourself and others. Anger and bitterness are replaced with simple observation. One is able to view the other party's behavior objectively and without opinion. It simply is what it is. By remaining impartial one avoids the entrapment of unsympathetic emotions, thus rendering forgiveness obsolete. And life becomes infinitely easier.
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Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net.
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."