Our exploration of the principles shared by Bruce D. Schneider in his book, Energy Leadership, continues with the topic of forgiveness. Many people have difficulty forgiving others because they mistakenly believe that, in forgiving, they are condoning—and potentially encouraging the repetition of—a particular act or behavior. The primary dictionary definition of forgiveness is “to excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.” The Energy Leadership perspective on forgiveness goes deeper—forgiveness involves releasing the self-destructive catabolic energy of judgment and blame so that you can move forward. In this definition, the concepts of “wrong” or “right” fade as we recognize that whatever we are aren’t forgiving is imprisoning and holding us back.
Forgiveness isn’t about saying what the other person did was fine and didn’t hurt. It’s about detaching from inviting the event to continue to have any negative hold over you. When you forgive, you detach from the destructive impact that fanning the catabolic flames of blame has on you by embracing the anabolic energy of forgiveness to liberate and empower yourself instead.
Forgiveness is a superpower. One of the biggest shifts you can make to remove catabolic energy from your life is to forgive others. In the seven levels of energy described in his book, Bruce identifies Level 3 as the one at which your energetic balance shifts from predominantly fear-fueled, constricting, restricting, destructive catabolic energy to a preponderance of love-fueled, expanding, empowering, constructive anabolic energy. The key emotion associated with that shift at Level 3 is forgiveness. You make that uplifting shift every time you forgive those you feel have wronged you in some way.
At first glance, forgiving someone else can seem like an impossible task. If you are like many, when you believe the other person did something wrong, didn’t show you respect, undermined you, hurt you or violated one of your core values, your first reaction is to feel hurt, upset, angry or resentful. You blame them and maybe even crave revenge. Think of a situation in your life, current or past, where someone did something that you haven’t forgiven. How do you still feel when you think about it? Sit with those emotions for a moment, fully embracing them and noticing how they feel in your body, mind, heart and soul. Then read on.
Dwelling on that past unforgiven offense probably didn’t cause you to feel loved, encouraged, peaceful, relaxed and calm. Every time you rehash painful past experiences, you are choosing to re-injure yourself by generating the same toxic cortisol stress cocktail in your system that you originally fostered during your chosen reaction to the initial experience. Holding onto anger and resentment hurts you much more than it can ever hurt the other person.
Harnessing catabolic energy to lash out at the offender may temporarily restore a false sense of power. But that “good feeling” will quickly fade as the poisonous catabolic energy you are harboring inside you continues to eat away at you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually—blocking you from having the life you really want and being the person you want to be.
One of my favorite forgiveness quotes comes from St. Augustine, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” By not forgiving, you are only hurting yourself. If you spend most of your energetic resources on blame and anger, you’ll have little left to invest in more constructive, life affirming engagement. By not forgiving, the hurt to yourself goes on and on.
How can you release those feelings? Take responsibility for what you are thinking and feeling and realize that you have the power to make things better for yourself. As Bruce D. Schneider is fond of saying, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Give yourself one of the greatest gifts–choose to forgive others. Realize that in order for you to feel like a winner, someone else doesn’t have to lose. Remember that others are always doing the best they can in each moment with the love and light they have concerning the circumstances they are facing.
Look for the gift and opportunity in whatever’s happened. Change your perspective. Think of forgiving in a different way and thank the other person for giving you an experience that you are going to use to help you learn and grow.
Choose your energy: change your life!
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