Learning to Forgive — A Simple Exercise You Can Do Now
By learning to forgive others, you make your own life more beautiful.
With these exercises you can get started right away.
Forgiveness and letting go makes everything better
Really. And the joke is, we often think that forgiveness is some kind of favor to the other person.
But in reality it is mainly a favor to yourself.
You allow yourself to continue. To release the toxic thoughts, fears, disappointments, doubts and frustrations. And fully accept the situation, the other and yourself.
It’s a great form of taking responsibility for your own happiness. You consciously leave the victim role behind you and choose a better future. One in which you choose positive feelings.
And with that you win back a lot of peace, freedom and love. So, as strange as it may seem at times, learning to forgive is something you do for yourself. So you can move on.
Below is an exercise you can do right now to forgive someone in your life. And the nice thing is, the other person doesn’t even have to know about it.
Because you decide to forgive the other, you can move on. And can you deal with this person in a conscious, loving and calm way. Even if you don’t say a word about it.
Step 1 — Write a letter in which you forgive the other person
Very simple. Open a word processor or grab your notebook. And write a letter to the one you want to forgive.
Here are some things you’ll want to discuss in the letter:
* Why you are writing this letter.
* What event or trait is bothering you.
* “I forgive you for this” — “I choose to accept you as you are”
Be specific. Take as many words as you need. End positively and lovingly.
And try to really feel what it is like to write these words. How does it feel to write that you forgive and accept this person? What does it do to you?
Feel how it makes you lighter. How nice it is to let go of your frustrations and take responsibility for your happiness. Once you’ve finished your letter, it’s time to make it a little more real.
Step 2 — See how you forgive the other
Close your eyes. Breathe in and out a few times, relax.
Visualize how the person in question is standing in front of you. Make it as real as possible for yourself. Where are you? What is the other wearing? How do you feel?
Now visualize reading this letter to this person. And feel how you really forgive and accept the other completely. Hug each other, and try to feel love for the other.
End your visualization with positive loving feelings.
Open your eyes — delete the file or destroy the paper. And get on with your day. No one has to read this if you don’t want to.
You really do forgive for yourself
You can repeat this exercise with as many people as you want. You can also apply it to yourself. So that you gradually learn to accept yourself as you are, and to forgive yourself for the things you wish you had done differently.
Learning to forgive is a simple yet powerful tool to make your life more beautiful. You do it mostly for yourself. Your happiness is your responsibility. And by forgiving and accepting you take this responsibility for the full 100%.
Living from compassion 7 tips
Compassion makes you a wiser, more loving and finer person. That — and your compassion makes the whole world a little bit more loving. And it’s not that hard, so practice along and start a loving spiral upwards.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Compassion, the ant nest and the kettle
Mass murder — that’s what it is. I had seen my mother do it. Destroying an ant nest in the garden without poison — very environmentally friendly. But also quite grim.
Hundreds of living creatures dead at a glance, because of my boiling water and the impatience to understand why the ants are there and what they actually do in our garden.
Eight-year-olds can be ruthless. But luckily I became wiser. By now I have developed my compassion quite well, and I can no longer bring such heinous acts over my heart.
Compassion is of course not only liberating and enriching towards ants. In recent years I have developed my compassion towards people, towards myself and ultimately towards everything that lives.
This upward spiral towards more love has caused me to:
* Less quick judgment;
* Connect with people more easily and more deeply;
* Move through the world with more wonder;
* Cuddle more often with the people in my life, and with people I’ve never met;
* Look at life and the world more positively;
* Developed more trust in people;
* Allows people, animals and plants to appreciate their value and usually lets them do what they want to do themselves.
Compassion makes calm, wise and happy. That’s what I read, and it’s what I’ve experienced. I still have a long way to go if I always want to live with love and compassion, but I feel I am on the right track.
The tips below will help you do the same. Get started with it today, and immediately notice how nice it feels to live from compassion and love.
Honestly, you don’t even have to put on goat wool socks.
1. Develop your inner love
Well, that sounds pretty floaty. Correct. But it’s a good plan, and it’s not that hard.
How do you do that, develop your ‘inner love’? The easiest way is to meditate regularly. Just do nothing for a few minutes a day, and simply ‘be’.
Another way is to feel satisfied and grateful more often. For example, you can do this by making a list every day of the things you are grateful for. And by simply looking around you, and realizing that you should be quite satisfied with your life as it is now.
By becoming calmer, more grateful, and more content, you reduce anxiety. You develop more confidence in yourself and in life. And trust is fertile ground for love. And when you are loving, compassion comes almost naturally.
So yes, try it. Meditate, feel grateful and content. It’s simple, free and the result is — certainly in the longer term — quite life-changing.
2. Stop Labeling
Things are neither good nor bad. Things are ordinary, and you label them as desirable or undesirable.
Put your stamping machine in an imaginary cabinet and stop stamping. Let things that you used to have different opinions about, simply be what they are.
You don’t have to stamp everything. It usually doesn’t matter at all what you think of a situation. The situation is there whether you like it or not.
By sticking fewer labels it becomes easier to look at life with a milder view. It becomes easier to feel compassion for people you normally dislike, or to feel love for an event you would normally “disapprove”.
Is eight-year-old Jelle who kills hundreds of ants with boiling water ‘bad’? Or is he very sweet because he helps his mother with the ‘ant problem’? The answer is: both, and neither. It is an event that you can simply observe without finding anything about it. While feeling compassion for both the ants and the little boy they kill.
3. Enjoy people the way they are
You cannot change people. You can only inspire them. And it is almost only possible to inspire by being a living example yourself.
So? So stop changing people. And stop thinking how much you wish the people in your life were different.
They are who they are, and as they are, they are fine. Of course you want to set boundaries if they treat you in a way you don’t like. And you want to help them gain new insights when you see loved ones exhibiting self-destructive behavior.
But even then you can only relate it to yourself. You can express your concerns and hope that the other person will do something about it.
For the rest, the trick is to let people be the way they are. And — more importantly — to enjoy them. As soon as you hand out fewer stamps, you suddenly realize that those ‘annoying’ qualities are simply ‘properties’. That you yourself have decided that they are ‘irritating’, but that you can also let go of that opinion.
If you want people to become more like you — be the best version of yourself. Good example to follow. Don’t push. Embrace people with love and compassion and let them feel that they can be themselves with you.
If you can do that, it will be a wonderful and unique gift that few people can offer.
4. Rather be to yourself
Your inner world determines how you reflect on others.
When I’m working really hard to become more productive, I see how lazy people really are all around me. And I could be annoyed about that.
Or if someone changes their lifestyle and starts living a healthier life, they see examples of unhealthy behavior everywhere. And it makes some people very vocal, annoying and even evangelical.
People tend to judge the traits they hate in themselves in others. Especially when they work to change those traits. If you manage to be kinder to yourself (self-compassion), you will be more able to feel compassion for the world around you.
5. See the similarities in others
This is a fun exercise that will quickly help you feel more compassionate. When you meet people you find difficult to be loving, remind yourself of the following:
* You both want to feel happy and healthy.
* You both long for love and warmth.
* You are both insecure on some level.
* You both want approval from your parents or guardians.
* You both want to be accepted as you are.
* You both want to be free.
* And important: You both try to do the best you can, given your view of the world.
That goes for your partner, for your children, for your boss and for your worst enemy.
You are more the same than different. Shifting your attention to the similarities makes it easier to see the innocence in others.
You don’t have to agree with someone’s behavior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love the person behind it.
The blow-jaw who mainly brags out of insecurity, because his father never confirmed him as a child. Or that annoying sister-in-law who struggles with a difficult disorder that makes her unbearable, but also struggles with life every day.
If you can see through people like this, then you will succeed in loving unconditionally. And that’s what compassion is.
6. Feel Compassion — Not Anger
Two things: people who hurt others often hurt themselves. And: you never know the whole story.
Two truths that can help you take a milder look at people that would normally make you angry.
You can never judge someone as you never know exactly what the whole story is. In fact, if you’d been in the same shoes all your life, you’d probably behave the same way.
As mentioned — people don’t do wrong things. People try to do the best, given their view of the world. And no world view is the same. So you can never fully understand the other.
So the next time you’re faced with people you want to hate, who you want to get mad at, feel compassion. No pity or tolerance — both driven by ego.
Feel compassion — unconditional love for the person who is behind the words, behind the behavior.
7. Respect all that lives
I don’t kill ants anymore. In fact, a few years ago I made a pact with myself: I will never intentionally kill a living being again.
I literally wouldn’t hurt a mosquito. And certainly after I read myself into permaculture (which is based on compassion) I started to see every animal, every plant as a ‘friend’.
At times I doubtless cycle over insects (although I know how to avoid snails skillfully), and I sometimes swallow a fly during walks (unfortunately for both parties). But I don’t kill snails in the garden, no spiders in the living room, no mosquitoes in the bedroom.
Yes, it sounds cheesy. But it really did a lot for my ability to experience compassion in everyday life. It has led me to use less animal products, and eventually become more loving on all fronts. Also towards myself, and also towards the people in my life.
* I smile at people on the street, and greet them where I can.
* Nowadays I hug almost all my friends and relatives when I greet them and when I say goodbye. Some people had to get used to that, but everyone seems to like it as much as I do now. And what’s nice, some people continue the hugging habit in their own social circles — showing that compassion spreads automatically.
* Plants literally rarely die here. And we have 10 of them in the house anyway, and from spring a row of edible plants in the garden will bloom. If we see that a plant is not doing well, we do our best to boost it. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But in our house there is a plant for the long term — it is cared for with love. Again: maybe cheesy, but nice. For us and for the plants.
* I am happy with insects, ‘weeds’ and the rich biodiversity that can be achieved even in a simple urban garden. Why would you want to “exterminate” or reduce that? The more I learn about permaculture, the more humble I become before the intelligence of nature.
* I am getting better and better at judging less and just letting people be who they are. And believe me — that is not an innate talent.
* I’m working on the ‘No Complaint’ experiment again. I wear a purple wristband — and every time I whine, talk negatively or gossip I have to change it. With the aim of keeping it on one wrist for at least 21 days. Now I often manage to keep it on one wrist for two days (a few weeks ago I changed it four times a day), and I’m getting better at it quickly.
Living with more compassion is really worth it (it doesn’t take that much effort). It makes your life more fun, richer and more loving. And you have a positive impact on your environment. You literally make the world a bit more loving.
I would love to live in a more loving world. If that’s your goal too, start with yourself. Develop your compassion and discover how simple it really is to make the world a little bit more beautiful.
My book Breathing and emotions is now available on Apple Books.
Breathing and emotions
The reason I took this section out of my book is that the main reason for corona is that there is too little oxygen in…books.apple.com
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