If you don’t make peace with your past, it will keep showing up in your present. –Anonymous
Once again, my good friend Anonymous hits the nail on the head. Making peace with your past sounds like a great idea, but how do you go about it?
Well, you can’t change the past, but you can change your attitude about the past, and you can change how it affects you in the present and beyond. Forgiving yourself and others is the key. The problem is that you have to choose it, consciously.
You may say, “Well, I’m not ready to forgive yet.” That’s fine, but if so, you won’t be able to make peace with your past until you do. You may wish to take some time to figure out exactly why you aren’t ready to forgive yourself or the other person. Are you still angry? Why? Does it make you feel good to be angry? Why? Is feeling sorry for yourself really the most pleasurable feeling you can conjure up in your life?
“But he…” But she….” OK, yeah, the other person did you wrong. Are you waiting for that person to apologize? If so, you may wait a long time. Are you really prepared to be angry forever? Because your anger just ties you more firmly, karmically speaking, to the person you’re angry with, and you are just going to be permanently miserable. Someone in Alcoholics Anonymous brilliantly paraphrased something that Emmet Fox wrote. (The paraphrase is often misattributed.) “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
The thing is this, you have to be proactive. If you make it the other person’s responsibility to apologize, you are just giving away your own power to resolve the situation and find peace for yourself. So, OK, you’re angry with somebody because they did something awful to you. Are you now also going to hand them the power to make you unhappy?
And by the way, whatever the person did to you, the pain may not ever totally go away. You have to forgive, anyway, because when you do, you take some of the sting out of the original transgression. The point is this: are you going to let this situation control your life? Really, that would be like locking a ball and chain around your ankle. You can’t move forward in life if you do that. If you can make the decision to forgive, truly forgive, the pain will no longer have any power over you.
What do I mean by truly forgive? You may think you can never forget what happened, and maybe that is so, but you can choose to act as if you have forgotten. That means never bringing it up again, and never holding it over the other person’s head.
Remember that forgiving someone is not the same as accepting the person back into your life. It doesn’t mean that the other person is necessarily sorry. It simply means that you have decided not to activate your anger circuits anymore with respect to the issue between you. It means that you have decided to move on, whatever the other person does. It may mean that you will decide to move on by yourself, without that other person in your life. It means you have decided to make peace with your past, so that the past can no longer make you miserable.
What about the other part of the quote? The part about showing up in your present. Well, if you don’t forgive, then the situation will keep coming back until you deal with it. Either the same situation will keep bothering you, or you will find yourself in a similar situation in the future. This is one reason why people who divorce or break up with a significant other often get into the same sort of situation with the next person. They haven’t dealt with their past, so it keeps coming back to haunt them.
What if it’s you who need to be forgiven? Same thing: you have to be proactive. You have to ask for forgiveness and you have to be sincere about it. This means you have to be willing to make some kind of change, otherwise you will continue to do whatever it is that you want to be forgiven for.
Let’s put this in terms of energy, shall we? You already know that your vibrations attract people and situations into your life. What do you think your anger vibrations are going to attract? What are your “sorry-for-myself” vibrations going to attract? What kind of people are they going to attract? They’ll just attract more people who make you angry or make you feel sorry for yourself. And if you’re the one who needs forgiveness, what kind of people are you going to attract with your guilt? People who make you feel guilty!
So… what is it about your past that is making you miserable? Start thinking about forgiving this person (or yourself), or about asking for forgiveness. Remember that forgiveness is something that happens within you, so it doesn’t really matter whether the other person actually asks for forgiveness. It doesn’t even matter whether you ever see the person again. The person could be someone who’s been dead for years. It doesn’t matter. If you want, you can meet them on the Inner, as Soul and forgive them . They don’t have to be physically present. Because, remember, this is for you, not for them.
Same thing if you’re asking another person for forgiveness. They don’t have to actually grant it. All you have to do is ask and be willing to change. That’s the key. Your willingness to make changes is what really matters, not whether they forgive you or not. (Because, again, if you wait for them to forgive you, you are handing over your power to make changes, and you are letting the other person control you!) You have to be willing to make the necessary changes, regardless, because you think it’s a good idea. This is all about you, remember? You are the one who is making peace in your life!
May peace be with you. 🙂