The Power of Forgiveness & Gratitude
On holidays like Thanksgiving, we are much more conscious of the practice of “giving thanks.” But, did you know that forgiveness is not only the gateway to living an attitude of gratitude, but a practice that brings you and your family closer to each other…and closer to true and lasting happiness?
Forgiveness is like a key that opens the door to your heart, lets love and light shine in, and allows gratitude to replace bitterness, wellbeing to replace dis-ease. Many are unaware that forgiveness is an act of self-love and care, and rarely has to do with other people. We do not have to condone the actions or words that hurt us in order to forgive. Through forgiveness, we can learn to practice true, unconditional love and appreciation for ourselves, others, and the very life that supports us. What better way to “give thanks” than that?
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools you can offer your children to ensure they lead a life of pure joy and full of blessings. Here are 5 practices or understandings that will benefit you, as a parent, your children, and your family as a whole:
- Forgiveness is an inside job. Holding onto grudges or remaining angry or negatively-charged keeps us imprisoned in our own bodies and minds. Forgiveness is an inside job, and rarely has anything to do with the people, places or things we don’t want to forgive or feel wronged by. True happiness, peace and freedom (let’s not forget health) come from letting go of the past and its power over you. This is a vital component of self-care and self-love that, when embodied, releases us from the bondage and blocks that keep us stuck. Teaching your children how to forgive, and why, sets them on a path with way less stress, anxiety and unhappiness into their adult lives.
- Love yourself enough to forgive. As mentioned, forgiveness is about loving ourselves enough to be well. Holding onto the pain of the past accumulates in our bodies and minds and eventually harms us and becomes illness. Love yourself enough to let go, forgive, and move on. Love yourself enough to know that you're worth it. You deserve to show up today, to be happy and experience the beauty of life and your special family. Teach your children that they deserve true happiness; and that anger does not serve them or their well-being. Encourage them to love themselves enough to make the choice to let go of painful thoughts of the past. (Hint: holding on doesn't prevent the pain, it keeps it active and close to home)
- Forgive easily, forgive often. Lead by example. Practice what you teach your children. Let upsets roll off your shoulders, and move on with peace and love as the driving force in your family. Offer forgiveness for mistakes made, or feelings hurt, and replace the habit of anger with that of understanding and compassion (and while you're at it, offer apologies and acknowledgments when you may hurt others’ feelings, whether intentional or not, invoking an opportunity to receive forgiveness from them).
- Recognize the good. Being understanding and compassionate allows us to recognize that everyone is doing the best they can in any given moment. That includes your spouse and your children.. and you! Be gentle with yourself and others. Wrongdoings are often a result of inner pain and turmoil. They’re really not personal. Be aware of this, and remember: every act is an act of love or a cry for love. Sometimes, when people, or our children, are suffering, they seek love but don’t know how to get it. Recognizing this and the good in others, and extending compassion, opens your heart and mind and allows you to forgive easily and often. Teaching your children to recognize these lessons ensures that they will be resilient, caring and kind with others and themselves.
- Open your heart to Love and Gratitude. Compassion and understanding - opening your heart to see the good - are ways to practice “priming.” Priming is a conditioning that allows you to recognize, accept and receive the good life has to offer you (you're being primed to notice and receive miracles!). Gratitude is an extension of priming. Letting go of all the baggage, and forgiving, allows us the space (think: declutter) to fill ourselves up with the good stuff. If we are focused on the negative, we may miss all the positive things right in front of us. But, instead, if we expect good feelings and good things to occur, we witness and allow the miracles to unfold before us. A grateful heart allows us to experience life in a new way; presently, gently and aware. Showing our children what gratitude is really about and how to practice it daily, (not just on Thanksgiving!) deepens the bond of family and brings everyone closer, more connected, in a purely loving way.
- Grief…and Forgiveness. The holidays can be an especially painful time when there is someone missing from the dinner table. It’s not just an empty seat…it’s an empty feeling in the heart. Be sure to practice forgiveness as part of the grieving process. Forgive your loved ones for passing on, forgive yourself for the words you didn't speak, forgive the situation for happening… no matter what pain it is you're holding onto, forgive. And let the pain go. Honor your loved one, and the love you shared between you, by gently releasing any negative attachments or feelings, and try to replace them with love: set a picture of them nearby, say a prayer, invite them to be present with you in your heart during the holidays, or make time to share stories and memories about them. You can even begin a tradition to honor that special missing loved one during holidays. Perhaps you can bake their favorite pie or dish. And as you enjoy it, thank them for being such a beautiful part of your life.
While it may seem trivial or perhaps difficult to do, practicing forgiveness (yourself, the past, others) will give your family the opportunity to open your hearts, expand your minds, increase compassion and understanding, and allow for an attitude of gratitude to replace negative feelings. These are all benefits that far exceed those of holding onto anger or upset (remember, in that case you get to be right, but you don't get to be happy). Make the space in your hearts, in your home, and allow forgiveness to be the glue that holds you all together in love, acceptance and grace…this holiday, and always.
Camille Lucy is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Reiki & Raindrop Technique Practitioner, Ordained Holistic Minister, Certified Meditation Teacher (in process) and a Mother of 3 girls. Camille is also author of, "The (Real) Love Experiment: Explore Love, Relationships & The Self." Learn more about her and her adventure(s) at www.CamilleLucy.com.