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Why Forgiveness Is Important To Me
On an upcoming episode of 100 Not Out, my co-host and great mate Damian Kristof asked me why forgiveness is such an important part of my life. His question got me thinking and so I’ve dedicated this episode and blog of Your Exceptional Life to this very topic (and how I forgive in my own life).
I have no doubt that it’s the topic of forgiveness that is behind my fascination with the Holocaust. Since watching Schindler’s List a fortnight ago I’ve been hunting down living Schinderljuden or “Schindler Jews”.
Of the Schindler Jews who relocated to Australia, the last remaining survivor, Anna Reich, passed away in 2015 aged 94. So I went searching around the world, and with thanks to my good friends at Google, I came across the story of Celina Biniaz.
Celina was the youngest female working in Oskar Schindler’s Armaments Factory, and today is one of the few remaining survivors from the almost 1200 people on Schindler’s List.
At the time of this recording, Celina is due to be a guest on an upcoming episode of my podcast 100 Not Out. If you have not subscribed to 100 Not Out, I encourage you to do so by clicking here or visiting The Wellness Couch.
NOTHING is unforgivable
My research has led me to some incredible stories of forgiveness. From Gary Ridgway to multiple survivors of the Holocaust who have forgiven (never forgotten), I have no doubt there is no such thing as an unforgivable act.
Step 1A To Forgiveness. Realise (& own) that your resentment only affects you
“Hate begets hate” is a line I first heard from Alice Herz-Sommer, and it can be used in probably any feeling word. The power of the statement cannot be understated though, as I have no doubt that the more you hate or resent or have angst in your life, you will only bring more of that back into your world.
In addition, the person you hate or resent often has no knowledge of the depth of your feeling or any understanding of the impact it is having on you.
So, just to be selfish for a moment -- STOP IT -- stop doing this to yourself. Your resentment is making no difference in the other person’s life. They are carrying on with their own life. Give yourself the gift of letting go and spending all of that excess energy on more important areas of life.
Step 1B To Forgiveness Ask yourself and answer these questions (properly) --
Q1: How has this event or person served me?
Q2: What have I learnt from this person or experience?
I put this first because it’s often the hardest question to answer. What was good about this? How has this event been an incredible gift to your life? In the words of Alice Herz-Sommer, “I look where it is good. I see the bad, but I look where it is good.” If you’ve been looking at the bad, maybe NOW is the time to start looking for the good. I suggest you write down 20 reasons why this person or event that you are yet to forgive has been a blessing in your life.
Step 2 To Forgiveness Challenges your beliefs about how the world works
I think Jim Rohn said it best when he said that for some strange reason the world has been set up in a “conflict of opposites”. We have wars of all kinds based on opposites -- right versus wrong, love versus hate, black versus white, good versus evil, and so on. Is this an error in creation and one that can be fixed -- or is it here as a blessing? My view is the latter, no matter how hard that sometimes is to believe.
I often use the example of war. There are no peacekeepers without war. There is no Mandela without apartheid. There is no Mother Theresa without poverty. There is no Alice Herz-Sommer without the Holocaust. There is no Carren Smith without the Bali Bombing. There is no Stuart Diver without Thredbo. As hard as it sometimes is to accept, this “conflict of opposites”, often shielded as victory coming out of great adversity, is the brutal yet beautiful setup that we live in.
When you truly live with this awareness it makes the war, the evil, the hate somewhat more understandable in the tapestry that is our current existence. It doesn’t mean you have to like it or condone it, but it does make it somewhat easier to see the world from a bird’s eye view rather than being in the trenches. If you take this same view of the relationships or events that you are struggling to forgive, you may find it somewhat easier to forgive.
Step 3 To Forgiveness -- Express Your Forgiveness
The person you forgive may be dead or it’s just not appropriate for them to hear your forgiveness (they may have no idea of the feelings you have). In any case, it’s essential for most people to SPEAK their forgiveness. If you need to forgive a parent who has passed away, perhaps chatting with your friend or partner of HOW you have forgiven then and WHY you have forgiven them will further solidify the process. Take a leaf out of Alice Herz-Sommer’s book (or watch again Robert Rule openly forgiving Gary Ridgway, the murderer of his daughter).
Some Final Notes On Forgiveness
Please remember -- Forgiveness is not instant and it is the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your own personal growth. You might forgive today, only for the trigger to be hit tomorrow and you resent all over again. Don’t beat yourself up. Just commit to the act of forgiveness as long as it takes, until you reach a point where the trigger no longer has power over you.
There is so much more I’d like to say on this topic but I’ll be here all day! So I’ll save that for another episode, and in the meantime invite you to do the work above.
If you have any questions on this don’t hesitate to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on social media @marcusdpearce. Sometimes I open up spaces for free 15 minute sessions, and if I have spots available, I will invite you to join my mentoring program.
Please share this episode and blog with friends or family who you know would benefit from it, and until next week, continue living Your Exceptional Life!