Forgiveness Boot Camp
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Bootcamp? Are you nuts, lady?
Why call this boot camp? Well, I want to get the point across as being totally, unmercifully serious. I am insinuating here that forgiveness is one of the toughest feats you will ever have to overcome at one point or another in life- little or big, guaranteed. It takes guts, glory, and all that other hype. I want to pump you up, get you psyched, and kick your ass into next year, but basically I will impart on you some tough love training so you can attain peace for all your hard efforts.
I'm only saying this because I have all the confidence in the world you just need training. Not only have I been there myself and passed the strenuous duty of forgiveness, but I've also been a trainer for a men's college sports team. I've had to kick my own ass to set an example. I've walked the walk against numerous odds. I'll go easier on you, but I want to make sure you take away some hard-hitting points.
You'll be waiting forever...
Boot camp is a type of psychological conditioning. This isn't something you do once and you're done- Poof, "I forgive you". You have to get stronger and build up to it. And you have to get off your butt (figuratively speaking, no jumping jacks required here) and do the work it takes.
This is action-oriented advice here, because how long have you waited for forgiveness to be easy, for the right time, or for the other person to come to you first and apologize? Seriously, how long have you waited? It won't happen. I understand this means you can't just let it go and dissipate into thin air either. Remember I said this was boot camp, which is highly suggestive of not being easy.
In an ideal world, the other person would come to their senses and see that you are right, they hurt you, and they seek your forgiveness. Actually, while I was looking for pictures to use in this article, almost everything connected to the word 'forgiveness' was a picture of two people hugging. It doesn't work that way- please don't picture that in your mind or you'll never get through this boot camp and move on. People wait years for forgiveness to sink in one day and just happen while everybody realizes the error of their ways and ride off into the sunset with a deep understanding of the world. Stop daydreaming private- this ain't no fluffy cloud, get your head out and come back down to earth.
Sometimes holding onto grudges or injustices becomes a security blanket and feels like you hold some power over the person who wronged you. Perhaps, you want the other person to put in the work and earn your forgiveness. Hey, who am I to disagree with you- they damn well owe it to you. Years pass by and nothing has changed, perhaps gotten worse, more complicated. Every time you inch toward forgiveness in your heart, you are snatched back to reality, and left feeling self-sacrificing and weak. If you don't do something though, you'll be waiting forever...
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Lewis B. Smedes
There's more than one way to do a push-up
There's more than one way to look at forgiveness. You've probably heard forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness is a way to get back your personal power from the other person. And kittens couldn't be any cuter if they tried. I believe all this to be very true, but we've heard it over and over again so many times with the same words that it's lost meaning. Nobody even knows how to apply all that to their own life. We know kittens couldn't be any cuter so why try? We all know we should forgive, but why try?
There is no 'trying' in my boot camp, there is only doing. Forgiveness puts you in the driver seat and that's the best place to be. People will say, 'but I tried to forgive them and they are not treating me any better' or 'they don't care that I forgave them'. Change your perspective, your mind, and words. Stick with me and I'll get to that.
"Always forgive your enemies- nothing annoys them so much" - Oscar Wilde
Drop, and give me 20
I just need about 20 minutes of your time periodically, daily, weekly, etc. Work on it, remind yourself, and make it a habit.
1. Get it all out: Make sure the other person knows where you stand. If you stand up to them and let them know what is going on and how you feel, it will give you the strength to get through a mental boot camp with yourself to work on forgiving.
Boot camp: Start conditioning. You've said your peace. Now, you have to start strengthening your mind. When you think of this person, change your mind to something else, pick a random item like cucumbers. Thoughts of the unforgiven = thoughts of a cucumber. Your brain is like a muscle, it can be trained, and I'm the one to knock that sense into you.
2. Get revenge: Whether you believe in energy or not and in what form, let me explain logically. Every time you revisit the injustices someone served upon you, through a flashback or a memory and even losing sleep, energy is wasted- it is taken from you and your well being, not from the other person. Get revenge and stop giving anything to thoughts of them, especially your precious energy.The medical community recognizes stress as a major culprit in disease. Would it make you feel any better if you became ill and stress was a major factor of that illness? Stress can come from not forgiving and letting go.
Boot camp: keep a notepad handy and every time you think of that person, a situation with them, or anything related, write down what you are doing and who you are with. If you are at a playground on a sunny day with your child and those unforgiving thoughts arise, you are taking away from your child and a beautiful day. If you are at work, you are taking away from productivity that might get you a raise. If you are in bed, you're taking away from your sleep and health. You get the idea. The goal is for you to see that not forgiving and letting go is counterproductive and stands to only cause you harm.
3. Get what you want:Get what you need to move on. Has this person said they're sorry, but you don't buy it, they don't sound sincere, they didn't say the right words? This almost guarantees that what you need they are either not capable of giving it to you or it never amounts to what you were hoping for. This again, is why forgiveness is the ball in your court.
Boot camp: Write down what you want from them, what you need to hear to make peace. Give that gift to yourself. Look it over from time to time or mail it to yourself so you can really feel what it's like to finally get exactly what you want. Only you can give it to yourself. Getting what you need from the other person is most likely impossible- like trying to pick oranges from an apple tree.
4. Choose to change: As long as you don't forgive someone, you hold an eternal bond with them and you carry on the pattern and/or abuse even if it's towards yourself. Forgiving or not; neither changes what happened. There are no do-overs, what's done is done and only you have the power of change. Don't do what they did to you and don't be a victim anymore.
Boot camp:The secret of success in business and personal life is recognizing what you have done, what you have overcome, and how far you've come. Little accomplishments add up. Take note of changes you've made; you do not parent like your parents, you will not treat someone the way you were treated, and so on.
5. Never forget: The easiest way to forgive is not to forget. If you don't forget, it enables you to keep these people at a distance and to keep from getting hurt in the same way. It's true when they say Learning to forgive is a lot like letting go of an addiction, but never forgetting where you came from.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Gandhi
Let's talk about this for one minute...You are in a weak state until you forgive. So many people try to move on without forgiving and they don't get very far. This is why I want you to have a boot camp mentality about forgiveness. You have to be strong and vigilant. Not forgiving is essentially inflicting the pain on yourself, the same pain you blame the other person for.
The easiest way to feel strong AND forgive is not to forget. If you don't forget, it enables you to keep these people at a distance and to keep from getting hurt in the same way. It's true when they say
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