For each yoga class I teach I like to set an intention, it's a way of blending in life with our practice on the mat. It gives us space to see things from a different perspective, by connecting and listening to the body rather than the mind. The intention for tonight's class is forgiveness, whilst planning this today I felt it was something I want to discuss further by writing this.
There are 2 types of forgiveness, that of forgiving ourselves and that of others. Both are an act of self love how ever the latter we often confuse it with punishing the other person involved, making them wrong, making ourselves feel right.
When we harbour negative emotions like anger, hatred, jealousy, guilt, they build up as poisons in the body. They eat us up. This related to the phrase I often quote "what you resist persists" when you are unable to accept, forgive and let go. The longer you allow yourself to feel these emotions the longer they will continue to damage you.
We are often our harshest critic. We'll judge ourselves on what we perceive we have done wrong and go on and on about it in our minds. If you find yourself doing this ask yourself, "would I speak to someone I love like this?". Usually not. When we are speaking negatively to ourselves we are damaging our emotional bodies which lead to us feeling even worse and often eventually creating some kind of dis-ease in the body.
Self compassion and love is the biggest healer. I really recommend watching this TED talk on the power of self compassion by Kristen Neff. She has done research around the power of being compassionate to yourself, what this showed that although we have been led to think that if we are too soft and nice to ourselves we'll get lazy and won't get anything done the reverse is actually true. When we say negative things to ourselves we can loose our motivation but when we are supportive and encouraging we move forward with more ease and confidence.
One of the suppositions of NLP is that "every behaviour has a positive intention". This doesn't mean that another person's behaviour is the best choice possible based from the outside looking in but I take it to mean that people do the best with what they have got. We have all had very different life experiences, which as a result we have a completely unique set of beliefs, values and rules in life. How someone behaves is from the way they see they world, what experiences they have been through. It never really is about you. This can help to feel a level of compassion for someone even if you disagree with their behaviour.
Another technique to help generate compassion is to ask yourself where have you behaved in that way before? Often when someone else has acted in such a way that triggers us it's because it's touching a nerve subconsiously on something we don't like about ourselves. Within us we have all values and qualities good and bad but we choose to focus on the ones we like and hide the ones we don't.
For example I used to get really annoyed with people who would turn up late or cancel last minute, I saw it as a lack of integrity and it used to wind me up. However through enquiry I realised that I sometimes did that too, and being on time was so important to me that when I was late I didn't like that about myself. I didn't like letting people down. Once I realised this, that we are all human and sometimes we are late and other times we need to cancel things for our own good it completely neutralised my annoyance towards friends who did that to me! Also, the times I have been late have never been about the other person at all, which is how it is with anything in life.
That was a simple example and I realise that sometimes forgiveness is very hard when someone has really hurt and let you down. The first step to forgiving another person is a decision. A decision to love yourself enough to forgive them. It's not about them, it's to help you heal and move on.
There could also be something to forgive yourself for in that situation. When we are hurt our minds often make it mean it was partly our fault, we did something to cause it some how. So as well as forgiving the other person it's also important to forgive yourself for what ever you feel necessary.
Be kind to yourself, allow yourself the gift of forgiving and letting go. Make today the day for a new beginning; to allow love and peace into your life.
ps If you would like to experience living with intention I have created a 3 month e-course where I will set you an different intention to focus on each week and send you affirmations to help bring them into reality. To find out more see my Journey of Intention website.