If you think of forgiveness as “letting someone off the hook,” you believe that you are doing someone else a favor by forgiving them. After all, they are really guilty and deserve your judgment and condemnation. You are, however, magnanimously releasing them from punishment, while nevertheless maintaining your belief in their “real” guilt.
In this version of forgiveness, you believe that you are doing someone else a favor by forgiving them. And even if you may later get a reward for this noble gesture, in the short run it is a kind of a sacrifice in which you give up your “right” to judge and condemn and perhaps to get even.
When you shift your understanding to a thought system based on the principles of one power and creative mind, you realize that you are one of the primary beneficiaries of your forgiveness. You are releasing yourself and others in your own mind from the thoughts of separation, limitation, victimhood and guilt. You are freeing your own mind from a self-made mental prison in which you experience others as potentially fearful and threatening enemies.
Releasing Yourself From the Past
When you (in your own awareness) release another from his past — that is, from your current story of his past — you at the same time release yourself. When you release another from your thought of his guilt, you release yourself from your thought that you are a separate limited being who could have been scarred or wounded by external events. And simultaneously you release yourself from the thought that you are, or could be, the cause of another’s hurt and suffering. You also release yourself from your thought that you are at the mercy of some linear causal chain of events that you call the “past.”
In one of Jerry and Esther Hicks’ recordings, Abraham pointed out that when you blame another or criticize his mistakes, regardless of whether your blame and criticisms are “accurate” or not, you are hurting yourself. You are reinforcing a belief system of separation, guilt, victimhood and struggle in your own mind, and thus are confining your own awareness to the perception of suffering, disappointment and lack.
Focusing Your Attention On What You Don't Like?
Every negative criticism of another, regardless of whether it is accurate or not (and in truth, it is always just a projection), is focusing your attention on what you do not like. Your judgment and criticism and anger restrict your own mind’s ability to feel love and joy now. They also effectively restrict your mind from manifesting the on-going creative flow of source toward ever-expanding well-being — focusing on what you do not like only brings more of it into your life experience. In short, your current negative judgmental thoughts make you unhappy now and continue to generate further unhappy feelings and experiences.
Conversely, when you focus on what you can appreciate about another, regardless of whether they seem to “deserve” your appreciation or not (and in their truth as beings of source, they always deserve it), you are benefiting yourself. Your praise and appreciation open your mind to feel love and joy now.
Allowing Your Mind To More Fully See The Truth
Once again, this approach of focusing just on the positive would be “one-sided” only if both the light and the darkness were equally real. But if only the light is real, and the darkness is merely the temporary hiddenness of the light, then focusing only on the light is the best and most effective way to allow your mind to more fully see the truth.
This is not about denying or repressing your experiences of darkness and negativity. It is rather a matter of re-interpreting those experiences — seeing them as your own feedback signal guiding you to change the limiting beliefs that are casting shadows into your mind and blocking your awareness of the light.
As You Give, So Shall You Receive
The thoughts that you extend forth to the world are reflected back as your experiences of the world. The quality of your state of mind is reflected back as the quality of your experience. If you give appreciation and love you will receive appreciation and love. You reap exactly what you sow. Again, this is not a matter of punishment or reward — your experiences are simply the creative reflections of your thoughts. The degree of manifestation of well-being in your life experience is wholly up to you. Your happiness is an inside job and is invulnerable to the world.
Likewise, the love and appreciation that you happily extend to the world is invulnerable to circumstances and to others’ words and behavior. In this sense, forgiveness could be understood as letting go of all of your reasons to not appreciate and love, all of your reasons to not be happy now.
Freeing Yourself & Others In Your Own Mind
In freeing yourself and others in your own mind from the thought-prison of limitation and guilt, you implicitly help them to free themselves in their minds. Your very being provides an example of wholeness and happiness, of creativity and invulnerability. Plus, your vision of their truth and their potential helps to awaken them to becoming more aware of it themselves.
Forgiveness is freedom. In forgiving, we free ourselves and others from the illusion that unhappiness, guilt, fear, anger and suffering are inevitable. We free ourselves and others to discover the possibility of co-creating a life experience of perfect happiness, perfect peace and unconditional love — of co-creating the manifestation of our deepest and truest desires.
This article is excerpted with permission from the book:
The Happy Mind: Seven Principles to Clear Your Head and Lift Your Heart
by William R. Yoder.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Published byAlight Publications. ©2010. http://thehappymindbook.com/
About the Author
William Yoder has doctorates in both philosophy and chiropractic. He has taught Eastern and Western philosophy and religion at major universities. His studies personal study with the Option Institute, and with such teachers as Ram Dass, Michael Hatncr, Gail Straub and David Gershon, Wallace Black Elk, David Spangler, Brant Secunda, and Thich Nhat Hanh. He and his wife have taught workshops in both the private and the corporate sectors on the topics of health and healing, human potential, self-actualization, and spirituality. Visit his website at http://thehappymindbook.com/