Having done forgiveness work for over two decades, I know with certainty that we all—young and old, rich or poor, educated or not—struggle with these highly debilitating emotions that preclude us from living a healthy life in happiness and functioning at our fullest potential. Many participants in my workshops hang on to resentment and sometimes hatred for over 20 to 30 years! Read that sentence again and let the reality of that statement settle for a breath cycle.
This means that a shocking number of people are not able to free themselves from the prison of guilt, anger, or resentment, and are therefore chained to their past instead of living in the present. Often this resentment ends up in cancer and other serious health issues. This is better articulated by Catherine Ponder:
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
I concur with Catherine as forgiving my son’s killer 27 years ago was undoubtedly the right decision for me and my family. Not only has it provided healing, but it has also helped manifest some amazing outcomes in my life. The greatest takeaway is that MY life did not stop with Tariq’s death because I did not anchor myself to the past by resenting his killer. I chose to forgive and to move forward with my life and have enjoyed many years of service and productivity in Tariq’s name.
My choice to forgive another birthed two nonprofit thriving organizations; authored 5 books, orated over 1,000 presentations to students, and over 700 keynote addresses worldwide at conferences, corporate meetings, and other venues with amazing results. I have been acknowledged numerous times and met many of the luminaries in our world—none of which would have happened if I was in a prison of the past, chained to anger and guilt for what had already happened.
Having said that, I still find in my workshops that sometimes the reluctance to let go even knowing that staying in these negative emotions is bad and sometimes fatal to one’s health. Why is that?
I have pondered this question for a long time. I often jest that a workshop overtly about “manifesting abundance” is easy to fill while a workshop about “forgiveness” is substantially more difficult. However, those courageous people who do attend these intimate virtual and in-person gatherings, experience a transformational breakthrough. And in the end, just like is true with my personal trajectory after practicing forgiveness, graduates of my masterclass do indeed experience abundance, along with inner peace, joy, passion, and purpose. In fact, I have personally witnessed people release their 30-year-long grudge against a person from their ancient past and fully start living again right before my very eyes.
The truth is if you are seeking abundance, prosperity, good health, loving relationships, and longevity, the portal to these riches is undoubtedly forgiveness of others and self. These attributes have manifested in my life and the genesis of my journey started with forgiving Tony who killed my son, Tariq. Tony, now 41, has joined me and TKF in the work we are doing to teach young souls the virtues of accountability, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking. We are successfully keeping them away from violence, crime, gangs, drugs, alcohol, and other altercations. I share this because my choice to forgive led to Tony forgiving himself.
Now, he is helping me and TKF create a better future for our communities and society. I think this LOUDLY speaks of the benefits of forgiveness as opposed to what we are experiencing in Ukraine. Not only did my life change for the better, but Tony freed himself from staying small in the regrettable past actions of that one tragic night. Together, our lives have unfolded with immeasurable joy and we have both impacted countless hearts in ways that benefit society at large.
I truly believe if there were enough forgiving people in the world, we would not be witnessing the heartbreaking violence being perpetrated on our innocent Ukrainian brothers and sisters, including babies and children. With more forgiveness, we would not be destroying monuments and historic buildings that are emblems of our heritage. I know you are also sobbing alongside me and many others that are absolutely traumatized by this senseless war.
As Desmond Tutu reminds us, “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” Much work needs to be done by all of us to make sure this does not happen again. Please do what you can to elevate the pain and the suffering—starting with yourself and your immediate community.
Going back to the earlier question about people not being willing to let go of their traumatic past and the resulting debilitating emotions, “Why is that?” I believe the biggest impediment to forgiveness, which is captured in the wisdom I learned for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is judgment. We judge based on many “isms” and fail to see the harm we are wishing upon others; we are actually causing to ourselves. In the words of a Persian Sage, Saadi Shirazi:
“Adam’s children are limbs of one body
That in creation are made of one gem.
When life and time hurt a limb,
Other limbs will not be at ease.
You who are not sad for the suffering of others,
Do not deserve to be called human.”
This understanding that we all came from the same spark and are indeed One is what is needed to foster empathy. We are all human. We are all fallible and have been harmed. Fostering a strong empathy muscle leads to manifesting compassion in one’s heart that makes this understanding possible and inspires forgiveness. The culprit and reason so many people remain in their suffering is judgment. Even the scriptures tell us to leave judgment to the higher power.
Those who do not believe in a higher power might not know that karma is a universal phenomenon, and it always balances. There is no escaping wrongdoing. It is difficult to teach this, for spiritual understanding is not something you are taught or told, but something you experience directly. Trust, that in my many years of working with tens of thousands of people, this phenomenon of balance has been witnessed by all who were willing to let go and let their higher power reconcile the score so they can live in peace and joy.
This Easter let go of resentment and guilt by forgiving others and yourself. I am here for you if you need support with this endeavor and will be releasing a self-paced online masterclass this summer before the LIVE Fall 2022 virtual masterclass. The other side of forgiveness will land you on higher ground and my prayer is you will also discover your true purpose. It has for me!
Happy Easter! Peace and many blessings!