The ability to give and receive forgiveness is critically important to a happy and fulfilled life. In fact, letting go of grudges, resentments, and bitterness leads to feelings of joy and wellbeing. More and more people are realizing this and searching for effective ways of achieving the happiness and freedom that forgiveness can bring. In fact, there are up to one million Google searches each month on forgiveness!
So, how can you harness the power of forgiveness to enrich your life?
Fortunately, Samuel has spoken many times about the importance of forgiveness. In this article I want to share with you some of the teachings and techniques Samuel has given over the years that have helped me work on forgiveness. Chances are they can help you, too!
Samuel stresses that awareness is the key to identifying any area of our life we wish to change. So the first step in forgiveness is becoming aware of areas of our life that need forgiving. Sometimes these parts of our lives are so deeply hidden we don’t see them, but they manifest in our day-to-day experience in undesirable ways. An easy way to find those blocked areas is to identify areas of our lives in which we have unhappiness, bitterness, anger, resistance—signposts that let us know there is some underlying issue that needs forgiveness.
First, it’s important to note that Samuel teaches that this world is an illusion. We are not separate from each other and Source, we are One. So, ultimately what we are forgiving in any situation is really ourselves. Keep in mind that what we see and experience is a reflection of how we see ourselves. Having said that, let’s look at what Samuel says we need to forgive in all situations.
Samuel’s Three Keys of Forgiveness
Samuel teaches that forgiveness is a three-step process—we need to forgive Self, Situation, and Source.
Step 1—Forgiving Self
This can be the most difficult step in the process. If we only knew then what we know now, we wouldn’t have done something that created unhappiness, and then there wouldn’t be a need to forgive—anything! Right? I can think of so many things in my life in which I thought, “If I had only done this, then I could have avoided all this heartache.” This type of thinking can be helpful so that you don’t repeat the same “mistakes” but it can also be a trap. What has happened has happened, and it’s in the past. By obsessing on it now, I’m bringing the past into my present instead of keeping it in the past where it belongs. The gifts of the now are lost when I spend my time rehashing negative past experiences.
When we look back we have the benefit of seeing the past through the lens of who we are today and the wisdom we have gained from life. As a result we often see a discrepancy in how we handled things then versus how we would now. It’s easy for me to fall into a cycle of beating myself up for past shortcomings but Samuel teaches that as long as we’re in form, we’re not going to be perfect all of the time. If I look back honestly, I’ll probably see I was doing the best I could with what I had at the time, and when I wasn’t—I need to forgive myself for not having the highest intentions or for functioning in an unloving way. Forgiving ourselves is a vital part of this three-step process.
Step 2—Forgiving the Situation
The second step of Samuel’s forgiveness process is to forgive the situation, which includes forgiving others. Obviously, the situation includes Self, but this step is different from the first one (forgiving Self), in that it includes others. It’s not until we can forgive other’s actions (or inactions) that we can truly move past a situation and begin to heal.
However, it’s not always easy to forgive another person, especially when you feel you’ve been wronged in some way. We’ve all heard the saying “justifiable anger,” but Samuel would say that no anger is justifiable.
So, how do we keep ourselves from becoming hurt, angry, and resentful? Through Samuel’s teachings I’ve learned not to take things so personally. In almost all situations, the other person is not intentionally trying to hurt me. Of course, somewhere in this world there are people who truly are trying to hurt another person, but for the most part, people are simply doing what they feel is the best, and more likely, easiest thing for them to do at the moment. Generally speaking, most people are focused on themselves, not on others, and as a result they are doing what works for them without really taking others feelings into account. I need not like that, but accepting it as true really goes a long way toward helping the situation heal. Besides, if I can forgive myself for lapses in loving-kindness, I should be able to do the same for others by forgiving them, too.
Step 3—Forgiving Source
I sometimes find myself getting angry at “God” for letting me down in some way. I grew up being taught that God loved me unconditionally, so why didn’t “he” keep bad things from happening to me, or in the world? Why would God allow me to experience hardships that made my life more difficult? Isn’t it supposed to be all rainbows and unicorns? Samuel asks that we become aware of the expectations we place on Source. When those expectations aren’t met, we feel betrayed and abandoned. But what we’re actually doing is limiting Source into a very human cultural construct. Source is far beyond that—a force of Intelligent Energy, so to speak. We are a part of that Energy in the greater Oneness even though our minds can’t fully comprehend the breadth and depth of that. It is simply
our humanity that limits our awareness of the constant connection we have—and Are—with Source. So our human limitations create a human version of Source, and we both love and blame “him” for not meeting our expectations of “him.” Forgiving Source for our view of it seems odd, but it is amazing what a weight it takes from us on some deep level. At least it does for me. The third step to forgiveness is forgiving Source, or better yet, our unmet expectations that Source would “allow” something unpleasant into our lives. When I no longer blame Source, I’m moving toward a life without forgiveness issues. Until that point is reached, I have disappointments and challenges in my life that need forgiving.
Gratitude is key
We’ve identified the three areas that need to be forgiven—Self, Situation, and Source—so how do we actually do that? The bottom-line answer is gratitude.
When I’m grateful for something in my life, especially for something that seemed so unpleasant, that’s an indication that I’ve moved beyond merely accepting it, but I’m embracing it with gratitude for all that it’s given me. This doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily grateful for the way the situation played out, or that Source thought I could handle it, but that I’m grateful for what I’ve learned as a result and for the opportunities it has given me to become the person I am today. For gratitude to heal forgiveness issues, I really need to come to place of self-love to the point where I love myself, and that means all the experiences, good and bad, that have helped shape who I’ve become.
So, how does one truly feel grateful? I look at what I’ve learned from a situation and how I’ve grown. I also look for doors that opened as a result of the experience. Years ago, a relationship ended quite abruptly for me. I was very upset by the loss and felt betrayed and hurt by this person’s actions. It wasn’t until I was happily in another relationship that I could forgive this person—who was really doing what they thought was best for themselves at the time—because if it wasn’t for their leaving, I wouldn’t have been in the great relationship that followed.
How do you know when you need to forgive?
The way I know when, what, or who I need to forgive is I pay attention to my emotions. My emotions are a reflection of my beliefs. If I believe I have treated someone, or someone has treated me wrongly, then I may have a visceral reaction to seeing them. When you see someone from your past at the grocery how does it make you feel? Are you happy to see them or do you go out of your way to avoid a conversation? If it’s the latter, then you probably have some forgiveness issues weighing you down. Take a look at it more closely. Play Sherlock Holmes with it. Ask yourself 20 questions about it. Investigate it. See if you can get to the crux of the issue—where it began and why it still bothers you (why it is something you are holding on to). Journaling about it can often help you get clear as to why you avoid that person. Paying attention to emotional reactions can be a powerful way of uncovering who and what needs forgiving.
When to apologize
Some people teach that you need to make amends and ask another for forgiveness. While that’s often true, Samuel teaches it isn’t always the case. I find that it requires discernment. What might make me feel better (getting something of my chest) might devastate the person hearing it for perhaps the first time. i.e. “I’m sorry I had an affair with your wife.” or “I’m sorry I said all those horrible things about you behind your back.” or “ You’re a really nice person. I’m sorry I thought so poorly of you all these years.”
I’ve learned to always try to determine the damage saying something like that might do to the other person. Is it worth hurting someone else just to get something off my chest? Invariably it’s not.
However, if you find you do need to apologize to someone for something you’ve done, it’s important to know how to make an apology that works. How many times have your heard a public figure attempt an apology by saying, “Im sorry if I offended anyone.” That comes off as uncaring. Another example of a lame apology is when someone says only, “I apologize” which can feel pretty unsatisfying and more like the person is trying to brush you or the problem off rather than sincerely working to make things right. Those examples just aren’t apologies, according to Samuel. He says they’re doing nothing to help make amends (which is the purpose of an effective apology).
How to apologize
Apologies are not always easy. They require us to admit we made a mistake (which I never enjoy doing) and make us vulnerable. If you’re going to do that, it makes sense to learn a way of apologizing that’a more effective and easily accepted. It’s odd when I think back to growing up. I don’t recall anyone teaching me the basic steps to take when making an effective apology, which might be the case for you, too. I was just told to say I was sorry, but as I said earlier, that can come off as vague (not letting the other know what you’re sorry for) and insincere. Thankfully, Samuel has given us a proven 4-step apology that takes the guesswork out of how and what to say. By following these 4 steps when giving a heart-felt apology, you can help ensure that your sincerity and regret will be “heard” by the one you’re wishing to apologize to. Want to know more? We created a PDF of Samuel’s 4-step Guide to an Effective Apology. Join our email list by filling out the form below and we’ll send you the PDF for free!
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when working on forgiveness. That’s probably why Samuel has taught so much over the years about the power of forgiveness. Because if it was an easy thing for us to do we’d be doing it, and if we were doing it we wouldn’t be holding onto resentments, grudges, anger, fears and staying in our past rather than the now.
So, how have you seen forgiveness play out in your life? Which of the above techniques are you excited about trying? Please let me know by adding a comment below.