My Fear of Forgiveness

I want to share with you something extraordinary that happened to me this last week that has resulted in a totally new level of peace in my life that I really should have had years ago!

You may notice a trend in a lot of my writing that I have a passion for personal development. It’s something that I seemingly just fell in to and ever since have become a massive advocate for it as well as ongoing informal education.

Well this weekend I had what I consider to be my biggest personal breakthrough and i want to share it with you in the hope that you will take value from it and be able to enjoy some of the same satisfaction in your life.

To get started I want you to take a moment to think about any person in your life who you may be holding onto anger for or any level of dislike for. Whether it be they did something to hurt you, or didn’t do something and that’s what hurt you. Think about how it felt when it happened and think it about how you feel when you think about that person. Now hold onto that while I explain my story.

Around 10 years ago my father went through a divorce to a woman whom he’d only known for number of months before marrying her and they were only married for a little over 3 months. During the developing stages of their relationship my father was forced to sever many relationships with some of his closest friends, and his relationship with a lot of his family members was damaged because of the way his partner treated them and how she treated him to. When they divorced as it very regularly happens to a lot of people, my father lost everything, his business crumbled, we lost our home, he suffered depression, became an alcoholic and ended up in rehab. He tried for years to get himself back on track and as much as I felt my dad was ok he never really got better. Then in 2011 my Dad took his own life, leaving behind my brother and I as young men. And leaving me bitter, angry and full of hatred to the woman who I considered responsible for his death.

I’ve held onto that hate ever since and as much as I have succeeded and excelled in many areas of my life, there is no doubt that it has held me back. I’ve used it as an excuse for relationships ending, I used it as an excuse for not being able to trust people, I’ve used it as an excuse when I’ve treated people poorly, I basically blamed the divorce and my dad’s second wife for every single shortcoming in my life. I know right, how silly!

But!

Over the last few years I’ve been on a journey of self development and personal growth, during which time I have all but removed blame and excuses from my vocabulary and from my life, however deep down I have still been holding onto that hatred and disgust. So when I was involved in an exercise this last weekend that challenged my fears, my excuses, my setbacks and my mindset around all these things i was shocked to come up against the hate I had and to be held responsible for it.

I’m going to tell you about how I was put through an hour long exercise that allowed me to forgive, acknowledge and accept everything that has happened to me and just let it go.

I’m not saying that you will be able to do the same thing in just one hour because as I mentioned I’ve been on a personal development journey for a number of years, so I think that played a massive role in me being able to be honest with myself and to even let this come up when it was asked of me.

It started with some stories of triumph after serious misfortune from the speaker, who in fact is one of my dearest friends and mentors, Susan Sly. This also really challenged my ability to get to the point of forgiveness because even though I was in a room with thousands of other people I always feel like I am the only one she is speaking to. And as the exercise begun I wasn’t actually phased by many of the scenarios.

The first one was asking yourself about how you felt when you had been belittled or judged for being who you are and doing what you do.

The second was asking yourself about how you felt when you had been rejected or made fun of when sharing with people you and even strangers.

Both of these didn’t stir up much a reaction from me and it was simply because I’ve fortunately found peace with a lot in my life and I know that when we are judged, belittled, hurt, rejected, made fun of or anything similar it’s more often than not as a result of that persons own misfortune of percieved short comings.

Then I was asked to write down the names of anyone that had hurt or begrudged me. At first i wrote down a couple of names that came to mind from some relatively recent events, even though I didn’t really feel any anger or pain from them they just popped up, so I wrote them down. I honestly didn’t even think of my dad’s wife, I almost felt like maybe I wasn’t “in the zone” enough to really get the value out the exercise that everyone around me seemed to be getting.

Then with everyone’s eyes closed in the room, Susan asked us to dig deeper, to think back further, to really consider if I was in fact angry at anyone. And it happened. Almost instantly I was filled with anger, hatred and disgust. I had clenched my fists and grit my teeth, then I begun to pour with tears. I wasn’t crying yet I was just filled with what felt like a murderous  rage and I swear in that moment if I had seen that woman I would have done something I would later regret.

Susan had begun moving onto the next part of her exercise, but I was stuck in that moment. I was bent over in my chair, tears dripping on the floor beneath me,breathing heavily and still with clenched fists. Then I felt the hand of my best mate who was with me that day rest on my back. He knew about what happened to my dad and I think he realised immediately who I had in my mind.

I was scared. Seriously I was petrified, it was just a visualisation exercise and yet I was brought back to the emotions I had felt when watching my dad go through everything he did before passing away. It was when I felt that fear that I realised I had been letting this hold me back for the last 10 years, I couldn’t believe it. I started to think to myself what I could have actually achieved if I had never held onto it. I questioned everything I had ever done and thought about everything I probably missed out on. Then all of a sudden with my eyes closed and filled with tears I unclenched my fists. I took a few deep breaths and eventually I was able to smile. I was still filled with tears and there was a puddle growing beneath my on the floor, but I wasn’t angry anymore. I had realised that I was letting her have a power over me that she didn’t deserve, in that brief moment i was able to foresee something magnificent for myself, because I could see myself free from that bitterness. I was able to open my eyes and look at my friend to my right, he gave me a look as if to ask if I was ok and all I could say was “Fuck man” and I laughed a little. I took a moment to compose myself and with her name written on a piece of paper in front of me I forgave her, I said it was ok, I told myself that I accepted what happened and I wiped my eyes.

I don’t really remember what Susan continued with for the next 10 minutes after that, I was letting it all out in my own time. But in those moments I can’t begin to explain to you yet how relaxed I felt, how calm I felt and how grateful I felt.

Emotions are a funny thing and I’m sure my acceptance of all of it will be challenged eventually, because of the pain and fear I felt in those short moments I am not going to let myself hold onto that grudge or that hatred ever again.

I challenge you now to take some time to think again about that person you brought to your mind before, and ask yourself about all the experiences you may have missed out because of the hate you had for them, all the things you didn’t do because of the pain you kept inside. Then think about how long you plan to live for and if you want to let the rest of your lifetime be filled with missed opportunities and broken experiences because you were too scared to let go.

I seriously know how scary it is. But these last few days of not having that cloud over me have been strangely the most free days I’ve had. So be brave and let go, be bold and forgive, be strong and keep living. Because you deserve peace!

Also if you feel like you’re caught in a rut because of any pain you may be feeling then please reach out to me if you think I can help! I have open ears and an open heart for anyone who wants to improve themselves and their life! But I can say with honesty and integrity that it’s easier for you to get better if you make the first move!

Thank you Susan, I don’t think I would have had that experience any time soon if it weren’t for you!

Peace!

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