Learn how to forgive and the self-benefits you’ll receive.

Recently, I was introduced to a beautiful concept during one of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditations, and the words have really stuck with me: “Forgiveness is for me,” it said.  “Forgiveness sets me free.”

We all experience emotional pain in our lives, both the pain of hurting another and the pain that gets triggers within us in response to the behavior of others.  If we do not take action to “mend” the hurt within ourselves, we can end up feeling “stuck– often for many years –in the pain of the anger or resentment we’re holding onto.  Not only does the stress of this repressed pain provide the perfect incubator for dis-ease to form in our bodies; it also holds us back from experiencing each moment with fresh eyes and living our lives to the fullest.

Most of us know how terrible it feels to harbor pain and resentment, and some of us have no doubt experienced how holding onto grudges robs us of joy and causes us to repeat unfulfilling patterns.  So, why, then, do so many of us continue telling the tales of those we feel have wronged us, long after the wounding incident?   In some cases, the experience of being a victim is so pronounced that we’ve actually made it part of our identity and we truly don’t know who we would be apart from this self-assigned role.  Others believe that forgiving someone (or ourselves) for a past hurt is the same as discounting that the painful event ever occurred or condoning the action of those who were involved.

What I’ve seen in the course of my practice as a life coach is that there is one misconception surrounding forgiveness that is more prevalent than all the rest, and this misconception is at the heart of why many of us squander years of our lives in a holding pattern of resentment, guilt, and pain: We believe that forgiving someone else is a kindness that we’re bestowing on them.  The reality is, although forgiveness may look like a gift that we are giving to someone else, it is really an act of self-love that we bestow upon ourselves. It is one of the most liberating steps we can take.  When we forgive others, we are finally able to take back our power, to release the past, and to move on with our lives.  Forgiveness frees us in body and mind from the heavy burdens of the past and allows us to appreciate the person we now are – as well as the person we have the potential to become.

So, how can we forgive more easily when others have hurt us?  And even more important, how can we forgive ourselves?

The first step is being aware of and acknowledging the pain that your actions have wittingly or unwittingly caused or the pain that you experienced in response to someone else’s actions.  Emotional pain often starts innocently, as the result of misunderstanding or a miscommunication.   If you start with the premise that the person involved most likely did not act out of an intentional desire to hurt you, but rather acted in an attempt to meet some need of his or her own, you’ll find that much of the sting of the hurt you experienced will ease right away.

Next, remember that your singular intention in forgiving another is to help yourself feel better, lighter, and more at peace within yourself.  It’s not your job to make sense of another’s behaviors; you are in charge only of your life, and of your thoughts and actions. Forgiveness is what you are after because forgiveness is what will set you free.

Taking the two steps above will prepare you mentally and emotionally to releasing old resentment, but the next step – if you approach it sincerely and with an open heart – will give you the most traction of all.

Justification is the primary “payoff” we get from dragging around out resentments and grievances from the past:  As long as we hold the person who hurt us responsible for our limitations and shortcomings, they continue to provide us with the perfect excuse for why our lives are not as fulfilling as we’d like them to be.

The moment we recognize the blessings that ultimately came out of the challenges we’ve lived through; when we discover the insights, skills, wisdom, and clarity of desire that’s been born within us as a result of the pain we experienced, our justifications and excuses begin to fall away. We see ourselves as powerful creators rather than as victims and come to know ourselves as someone who is much bigger than the heartaches we’ve endured, and as someone who has expanded and evolved – not only in spite of those heartaches but because of them.

To find the blessings of any painful relationship or event, find a time when you are feeling settled and calm, and gently begin to contemplate these questions:

*How has this experience caused me to grow, to expand, or to evolve?

*What do I now understand – about myself, about others and about life – as a result of having lived this experience?

*What insights or skills do I now possess that I would not have developed if it had not been for this experience?

*What desires have been born within me as a result of this event?

*What opportunities are open to me now that were not possible or probable prior to this occurrence?

Every experience – the blissful and the painful – presents us with opportunities to learn, grow, evolve and decide with greater clarity who we want to be and how we want to live our lives from this moment forward. The sooner we seek out and embrace these gifts, the sooner our resentments soften into gratitude.

The final and most important step in the process of freeing yourself from the stress and limitation of resentment is to release any resentment you may still be holding against yourself.  We’ve all made mistakes, and we’ve all brought pain upon ourselves by allowing ourselves to remain in denial rather than heeding the voice of our intuition.  And most of us have said or done things that have resulted in pain or heartache for someone we deeply care about.  It’s vital that we offer ourselves the same amnesty that we offer others, and to acknowledge that we really are doing the best that our resources permit us to do at any given time.

A really beautiful ritual for cultivating forgiveness and self-love is to simply call forth in your mind’s eye an image of yourself as a sweet, innocent child below the age of five, and imagine telling this child that you are sorry for all the times you made poor choices, discounted your better judgment, or ignored your intuition.  Acknowledge all the ways and times that you participated in behaviors that hurt yourself or someone you love, and for all the times you sold yourself out in an attempt to win the love, attention or approval of others. Allow yourself to be moved by the openness of this child; of the love that can so easily be shared and received. An open heart and an increased capacity to both give and receive love are just some of the gifts waiting for those who are courageous enough to let go of blame and self-judgment and step into forgiveness.

Life is simply too short to hold onto dark energy; forgiveness releases you from any past negativity and enables you to become a much healthier, happier person.

Jeanne Provost is the founder of Living Well Life Coaching based in Wilsonville, Oregon.  As a life coach and certified hypnotherapist, Jeanne helps clients with their journey of forgiveness and guides them in fulfilling their life’s passions and dreams.  To learn more about her work, visit her at www.livingwelllifecoaching.com.

Make 2017 the Year to Stop Letting Past Hurts and Anger Control Your Life

_68F3517Since none of us really knows what tomorrow will bring, this moment is truly the only moment that matters. Anger we are holding toward ourselves, and others or toward the circumstances we find ourselves in blocks our ability to enjoy – and often, even to perceive the blessings, beauty and opportunities that surround us in every moment of our lives. As we usher in a brand new year, I invite you to declare that it’s high time to stop letting past hurts and anger dictate your experience, and to learn once and for all to forgive ourselves and others. Forgiveness is an inner choice that each of us must make within ourselves, and when we make the commitment to doing this “inner work,” our lives change and we begin to prosper in remarkable ways.

This process of forgiveness begins by first recognizing the places within yourself where you are still holding on to past hurts, resentments or grievances. A lot of times we “harbor” old wounds and stories without even realizing it. One way to discover if you are doing this is to notice if you routinely feel yourself reacting to certain people or situations with a degree of anger you didn’t even know you had in you, or that is disproportionate to the situation at hand. By making a commitment to pay greater attention to your feelings and emotions in the moment they arise, you give yourself the benefit of having time to consider what your reaction is really about – before you act on it. This is the secret to healing past hurts at their source. Let me give you an example that came up just the other day in a coaching session.

My client came to our phone appointment saying that she had come down with a horrible respiratory infection. After talking about it for a few minutes, she made the observation that she has had this same type of infection at the same time of year for the past five years in a row. As she realized this, I asked her what had been going on in her life five years ago, when it all started.   She went on to explain that it was a time when she first realized that her ex-husband had been lying to her over and over again, for a period of many years, and this discovery was heartbreaking for her. She told me that she thought she had forgiven him, but the more she talked, the more apparent it became that she was still experiencing the pain of that event as if it was happening in the present moment. I explained that this is exactly what happens when we don’t take the time to heal the experiences that wound us; we continue to feel the pain of them in real-time. One thing that people don’t always realize is that healing comes in layers, and even though she has done forgiveness work around this, she hit a deeper layer. Hopefully this was her last layer.

I then went on to explain that the metaphysical causes of respiratory infections are correlated to having an irritation toward someone close, which can cause intense feelings of conflict and unresolved issues to surface. When I shared this with my client, she confirmed that it made complete sense to her, and could see how the emotional pain was at the root of her physical pain. We talked through the past situation one more time, and then I led her in a powerful meditative healing exercise that I call my 90/90 process.

I instructed her to close her eyes and to begin breathing deeply and more consciously, and then guided her into a meditative state. Once she felt calm and safe, we began to journey back in time, five years to when the incident first occurred. Almost immediately my client began to cry and cry. She said that she felt the pain primarily in her chest area, and described it as a black heavy mass. I had her sit with the pain for 90 seconds, and as she did, she felt the pain begin to lessen, taking on a lighter and lighter hue of grey. We then asked for Divine Love to enter her body, heart and mind, and to fill with light the places in her body the where the old wound was stored. As she sat in the presence of that Divine love for 90 seconds, the whole mass dissipated and a beautiful and peaceful feeling entered her body. As she came out of the healing meditation, she said, “Wow I felt different. I feel lighter. I feel like I can breathe deeply again and even my eyes feel clearer.”

I explained to her that even though we as human beings are made up of flesh, bone and what looks like solid matter, at the basis of all of this is energy. When painful things happen in our lives and we don’t fully deal with them, they can becomes “stuck” in our body-mind as a kind of dark energy inside of us. Often, this obstruction of the free flow of energy is what leads to “dis-ease” our bodies. Doing inner work like the process I guided her through is one way to release this stuck energy and clear and balances us in mind, body and spirit, allowing us to go forth and create the happiness and abundance we desire in all aspects of our lives.

Life is just too short to not pay attention to the deeper causes of whatever aches, pains or uneasiness you are feeling – whether those symptoms present as emotional or physical. As the momentum of 2017 is just getting rolling, decide for yourself that you deserve to reap the benefits of working with an experienced life coach who can facilitate the release any remnants of “stuck” energy inside of you. Tools like the 90/90 process can help you let go of negative attachments to the past, freeing you to move through life in a healthier, more self-expressed and abundant way.

Jeanne Provost is the founder of Living Well Life Coaching based in Portland, Oregon. As a life coach and certified hypnotherapist, she supports women and men in realizing their full potential and creating abundance in all areas of their lives. To learn more about her work, visit her at www.livingwelllifecoaching.com.