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Practice Instant Forgiveness

Updated on July 25, 2012

To forgive is to provide release from the bonds of guilt. Free yourself from past negativity by practicing instant forgiveness.

Whenever you perceive that you have been treated unfairly, before you take any other action, forgive. You may then remedy the injustice without the suffering of anger.
The opposite of forgiveness is the state of being unforgiving: holding a grudge, or, in other words, clinging to blame. Blaming is the assignment of fault, and we only assign fault for events or results we do not like, whether real, anticipated or imagined. We do not assign blame for events or results we enjoy, only for events and results we don’t like. For things we enjoy we assign thanks or gratitude to those who helped create the pleasurable experience.

The world is full of blame. It seems that everyone wants to blame someone. No one wants to own their troubles. We think that we cannot be responsible for our own troubles. It must be someone else’s fault. After a very short time in the world we find that people are quick to blame us and we may soon find ourselves blaming them. Many of us put on armor to protect us from blame, but this armor isolates us as much as it protects, and in the end we find it only cumbersome and not helpful at all. We find that this path is unproductive because it leads us to a place where we distrust the universe.

If blame is the ‘Wicked Witch of the West,’ responsibility is her good cousin from the north. Blame looks backward while responsibility looks forward. Blame carries connotations of anger and sadness concerning events that have already occurred. Responsibility carries connotations of capability and reliability to make things right in the present or future. Since our negative feelings about past events will have no effect on them, looking back on these events with anger or sadness only serves to cause us suffering. Looking forward, one can take responsibility for trying to ensure that negative events can be redressed or at least do not recur.

It is important for us to acknowledge our mistakes. Sometimes, however, we blame ourselves, citing some personal defect as the cause for things that may have gone wrong. If we instead take the learning from the negative experience and use that learning to make our future better, we find that we have gained rather than lost. If we blame ourselves all we accomplish is feeling bad. If we own our mistakes and learn from them, we improve.

Sometimes blame is appropriate. If a person is guilty of violence or deception it is right that blame and guilt should adhere to them and punishment be prescribed by a lawful process. But no matter what the person did to you, if you cling to blame, holding blame for them in your heart, it is only you who suffer. This is not justice. True justice is when the innocent can learn to forget the wrong they have suffered and go on happily with their lives. Sadly this is not always possible.

To defend against the suffering that comes from clinging to blame, practice instant forgiveness. You may not be able to instantly forgive at all at first if you are in the habit of holding a grudge; but if you are mindful of your reactions, after you calm down you can think about whether the grudge really serves you. Almost always you will find that the grudge – the clinging to blame – only brings suffering and serves no other purpose.

Often we blame others for simple blunders or mistakes due to laziness or ignorance. Mistakes, however, are an opportunity for learning. We all learn by making mistakes, and we should not begrudge others their turn. When others affect us negatively by making a mistake, it does not serve us to judge them harshly or punish them. If it is possible to point out their error with humility and grace, then some learning is possible, both for us and for them.

Sometimes it is very important to point out the error of another person. Some mistakes can be dangerous or even fatal. We should try to keep each other from harm. However, often it is more important for the person to learn from their mistake than it is for us to prevent them from making it. When we try to prevent people from making mistakes, sometimes we only succeed in preventing them from learning what they need to learn.

In any case, there is no reason at all to be angry at someone whose did not intend to hurt you. Perhaps you will be initially angry if a thing you value is damaged or you are injured, but if you cling to your anger you will only prolong your own suffering. The sooner you forgive, the sooner you can move toward a happier state of being.

What is instant forgiveness, really? It’s an integral part of love. Love your fellow humans. Forgive them... instantly.



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    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Lilyfly, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It seems you realize what a ball and chain the past can be. And you're right, it takes courage to refocus and leave it behind. Thanks again!

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 5 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      I really enjoyed this piece. I have to remember to forgive myself; that chief person I blame (for everything).. I think self-hate is so limiting. It is also living in the past- the "I always fail:, I always blah blah" It takes guts to shed a lifelong poor self image and take every day with no preconcieved notions of what will will happen. Thanks again... lily

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks Ruby! This article was not written in response to the recent terrible events in Colorado, but the example of the shooting victim that you give is very powerful. And thank you, KJ, for 'live, forgive and move on' is valuable advice.

      Randy, as you put it so well, forgiveness is a gift to the self whether one is forgiving oneself or others. Thank you.

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean

      I've written before that forgiveness is my selfish pleasure. You give your power and energy away when you hold onto anger and resentment. When you forgive it springs back like a rubber band. I'm with Always Exploring, I need to work on self forgiveness though.

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 5 years ago from Florida

      Tom Rubenoff..true words...whether we believe it or not, our destiny many times is decided by us..we react to an action. Taking responsibility for ourselves should be our priority. The act of always blaming others is a forgive and move on...

      Like you attitude and loved the hub...keep'em coming...

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I am learning to forgive, not only others but myself also. A great example, one of the men who was shot at the theater massacre stated yesterday, " I forgive. I feel sorry for him. I would like to talk with him. " Great topic Tom. Thank you for sharing...

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Forgiveness is an excellent skill to improve, PeppermintPatty.

    • PeppermintPaddy profile image

      PeppermintPaddy 5 years ago from The vast expanse of creative space (my brain)

      Forgiveness is one area I need to work on. I'm making leaps and bounds though.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Quicksand. The power of forgiveness is in the forgiver. There are people in my past I have not forgiven, therefore I must live with my anger towards them. I know that my life would be more joyful if I could forgive them and move on.

      Forgiveness is not necessarily a forbearance of punishment. One can forgive and punish without anger, recognizing that the punishment is for learning. Punishment can also serve the purpose of protecting others from evil.

      Forgiveness in itself is a punishment to a person who does not admit their wrongdoing - for example, the pardon of Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thank you, SilentReed. Thich Nhat Hanh says that channeling anger into a kind of placebo violence is not effective, and instead we should recognize that anger is suffering and own our anger as our 'child,' treating it as a crying baby that needs to be bathed with love. When anger is loved it can no longer be anger.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 5 years ago

      Of late I have noticed that the topic of forgiveness is trending. T'was only yesterday that I commented on another article on the same topic.

      Dwelling in the past, they say is negativity. I agree totally. However, although I am totally against revenge of any sort, my opinion on the subject (with apologies to a great man of yesterday) is ... "you can forgive some atrocities all the time, all atrocities some time, but not all atrocities all the time."

      Forgive me if my opinion does not tally with yours! Cheers! :)

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 5 years ago from Philippines

      This is easier said that done. Would it not be better to release or channel the anger first? On the punching bag or take a hike on a wooden trail. One would then have a better perspective and not let anger cloud our judgement.I read somewhere about how one person found the cemetery a sobering place to remind him that we are here only for a short duration. It does put things in the proper perspective and make it easier to forgive perceived wrongs.:)

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      True! Thank you, Feline!

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 5 years ago

      One of the lessons I've been trying to learn lately is not to assign blame to anyone else...and I realise when you can do that much of the stress in a situation simply evaporates!