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As it turns out, our scheduled podcast on “Forgiveness” is our offering for today, and there is perhaps no greater role model in this regard than Nelson Mandela, who recently passed away. The world has lost a great leader and a great human being. Please read a little bit about Nelson and the topic of “forgiveness” in the Musings section further on down the page.
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Let me start off by saying that Nelson Mandela is a man I have had great admiration for, for many years. He is my #1 role model in regard to forgiveness and all the wonderful things that can happen as a result of forgiving others.
Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years, so he could have easily stood up and announced that he was righteous in wanting to punish the people that wronged him. But instead, he chose a path of reconciliation, and the whole world has benefitted from his example. If Nelson had remained angry, there is no telling just how bad things could have gotten in South Africa and the rest of the world after he was released. His path of forgiveness was a gift to the entire world.
Here is one of MANY examples of what Nelson did in regard to forgiving others- He invited his jailors to his inauguration, and he introduced them to the audience as honored guests. What a heart he had!
What I learned from Nelson is this- In order to free ourselves from the pain of anger and resentment we need to be able to forgive others. The longer we dwell on hurtful situations from the past, the longer we keep ourselves from living fully in the present, and in the process we often bring about further pain and suffering. Forgiveness is an act of kindness. An act of kindness to yourself, as it will release you from the pain you have been suffering and lead to new possibilities in your life and in your relationships.
Many people struggle, asking themselves if they “should” forgive someone, or telling themselves that they don’t want to forgive the other person… all the while feeling anger, resentment, and pain. I believe that deep down in each person’s heart of hearts they do want to forgive, and they just need to find a proper way to go about doing so.
Often, my clients say “I don’t want to forgive the other person for what they did in the past. What they did was and is still wrong, and therefore I will not forgive them.”
When I hear such a statement I talk to my clients about the important difference between “forgiving” someone for what they have done and “condoning” what they have done.
Forgiving someone for what they have done, does not at all mean that you have to condone what the other person has done. In other words, you don’t have to feel that what the other person did is okay in order to forgive them. I am fairly certain that Nelson did not condone what was done to him and his compatriots, but that did not stop him from forgiving.
Here is the proposition I set forth in our podcast– What if as a totally selfish act, done simply for your own personal happiness, you decided to let go of the resentment you had towards another person. If you did so you would no longer have resentment clouding your life. Would you be willing to forgive someone if it led to you being happier?
You would not be saying that what was done to you was OK. You would simply be letting go of the resentment so that you could move forward in your life. Would you want to let go of your resentment if it meant you would feel greater happiness overall?
I am guessing that for many of you reading these words now, there is someone in your life that you would do well to forgive. And if you do so, I believe it will improve the overall quality of your life, and the lives of all you are in active contact with. Give it a try!
If you would like to further explore the topic of forgiveness, please have a listen to our podcast.