Monday, April 7

How to let go of guilt and learn to forgive

How to let go of guilt and learn to forgive

From the Qur'an
{It is part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal gently
with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have
gone away from you: so pass over (their faults), and
ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the
affairs (of the moment). Then, when you have taken a decision, place
your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who place their trust
(in Him).} 3:159

[Lessons from this verse] It is not the snake bite that kills,
it's the venom that flows through the blood. The antidote is
forgiving people. Don't let anger rent space in your mind and
heart. Forgive and pass over people's faults.

"Strength of character means the ability to overcome resentment against
others, to hide hurt feelings, and to forgive quickly."

"To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the
unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when
everything seems hopeless."

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was

"Do everything. Love as much as you can. it may hurt but it helps us grow.
Give all you may be poor but you will be content. Always
forgive....your heart can not afford not to. Teach what you know and learn
what you don't. Stay open to all"

"Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save.
Before you die, give."

"Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than
believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive:
forget. Do more than dream: work."

A kindergarten teacher decided to let her class play a game. The teacher
told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few
potatoes. Each potato will be given a name of a person that the child hates,
so the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will
depend on the number of people he/she hates.

So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the name of the
people he/she hated. Some had 2 potatoes; some 3 while some up to 5
potatoes. The teacher then told the children to carry with them the potatoes
in the plastic bag wherever they go for 1 week.

Days after days passed by, and the children started to complain due to the
unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes. Besides, those having 5
potatoes also had to carry heavier bags.

After 1 week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.
The teacher asked: "How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you
for 1 week?" The children let out their frustrations and started complaining
of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and
smelly potatoes wherever they go.

Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game.

The teacher said: "This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred
for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your
heart and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate
the smell of rotten potatoes for just 1 week, can you imagine what is it
like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime???"

Throw away any hatred for anyone from your heart so that you will not carry
sins for a life time. Forgiving others is the best attitude to take! Forget
& Forgive!!!

for a friend when they needed us, or we may have been responsible for
unhappiness in our family. These sorts of past actions can leave us feeling
ashamed and guilty, and we can end up carrying our guilt for years.

Guilt is probably one of the most debilitating and negative emotions there
is - one that can, and often does, destroy a person's life. But if we want
to live happy lives, we need to deal with the consequences of our past
actions and move on, rather than allowing our lives to be wracked with

Feeling guilty should not be confused with taking responsibility for our
past. Responsibility means "the ability to respond", and therefore taking
responsibility means that we actively address the consequences of our
actions in whatever way we can, in particular by changing our behavior
patterns. Taking responsibility also includes moving on by making peace with
the past.

Unlike taking responsibility, which is redeeming and positive, guilt has
absolutely no value. Guilt does not encourage us to change in positive ways
but debilitates us, leaving us unable to take the action we need to bring
about change.

Breaking out of the guilt cycle
As a behavior pattern, guilt often becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: we do
something, we feel guilty about it, we punish ourselves and, because we feel
bad, we end up repeating our behavior at the next available opportunity.

This debilitating cycle continues largely because we do not take full
responsibility for our actions or for changing our behavior. So how do we
start the process of taking responsibility? By considering, with complete
honesty, the part we play in any situation and by accepting our role in
creating the events.

The purpose of this self-examination is to evaluate truthfully whatever
occurred so that we can learn how we contributed. Through learning and
honest self-assessment, we change our thinking and behavior. We can also
forgive ourselves and move on with experience and wisdom.

Real forgiveness
In this process, forgiveness is vital. However, forgiveness is not what we
generally believe it to be.

Real forgiveness has nothing to do with feeling of "sorry or apologizing" -
neither of which actually changes anything. True forgiveness is contained in
its literal meaning. The word "forgive" is very old, and the prefix "for"
means literally "to reject." So the word as a whole means "to reject the

We need "to reject the giving" because, if we think we have wronged someone,
we use our sense of guilt to "give" to that person. By giving, we hope to
make it better, and to exonerate ourselves from our actions. Conversely, if
we feel that someone has wronged us, we will continue to demand payment for
that offense, and thus want the other person to "give" to us.

But giving from a sense of guilt can never lead us to forgiveness. Neither
can forgiveness be bestowed by another; it has to be brought about by
ourselves. In the end, unless we can reject all this giving and truly
forgive ourselves, we can never really move on and be free of the past.

How does forgiveness work in practice? Say that you have had a history of
being abusive towards others, but have started to take responsibility for
your past by changing your behavior. The reality is that you can still have
unresolved feelings about what you have done. The process of forgiveness
enables you to resolve these unresolved feelings so that you can move on.

It is important to remember that feeling bad about the past never really
allows us to move on. What's more, if we indulge in feeling bad, this
implies that we view our past as meaningless and of no value. What a waste!
For, if we have caused harm, surely we should try to learn from our actions
rather than living with a heap of regrets?

Forgiving ourselves involves finding value in our experiences. Instead of
just writing off an experience as a painful episode, and trying to forget
it, we should look for the value in that experience and try to take out of
the experience whatever we can learn.

Toltecs look upon life as a journey of learning, and say that all true
learning or knowledge is experiential. Because we are stubborn and tend to
avoid change, much of our learning does come about through painful
experiences. However, if we wish to grow and to use our experiences as a
learning curve, it is vital that we focus on what we have learned, rather
than the pain.

By searching for learning and value from our past, we ensure that there is
no more need to give or demand payment - we can, indeed, "reject the giving"
and so forgive.

To take meaning and value out of any situation, simply ask, "What has this
taught me? What lessons can I learn: about myself, about others and about my
life? How can I use this new knowledge to change my thinking and behavior
and help others avoid the same trap?"

In this light our past, instead of being meaningless and shameful, has a
positive and life-enhancing value. By learning to handle our past, and by
taking the steps to forgive ourselves in the true sense of the word, we can
let go of the debilitating consequences of guilt, and finally move on.

"Say: 'O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not
of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins for He is Oft-Forgiving,
Most Merciful." Surah Al-Zumar, chapter 39 verse 53-55

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