A dear friend of mine never allows people who are “playing less than nice” in traffic to get to her, anger her, or deeply upset her. She has a mantra that she uses… She thinks to herself “wow they must really need to poop!” To me this purely encapsulates what pragmatic forgiveness is. (I think we’ve all been less than ideal drivers at some point due to some reason.) In these moments where she could easily allow herself to be agitated, angry, frustrated, or even vengeful, she chooses to not even allow it to bother her. Therefore; there’s nothing she’s holding onto and there’s nothing she has to do to let it go–it never even had time to take hold–plus, she gives herself a little chuckle… Humor and laughter are so healing.
Pragmatic forgiveness is about letting go in order to create space for LOVE. Instead of getting all worked up and playing into the unkind, not nice, erratic behavior of someone on the road, create space; physically and metaphorically. Stay clear of the person and if you need some other thought suggestion to help you feel more at ease and bring you some peace here you go:
- What if that person just got a call that someone they love dearly died?
- What if they got a call that something so exciting just happened that they can hardly contain themselves?
- What if they got a call that they won the lottery?
- What if they almost just got in a horrendous accident and are trying to compose themselves after this event?
- What if life is just so overwhelming that they are mentally and emotionally distracted?
- When has your attention been hijacked or consumed by something?
When we are able to reframe something and choose a better narrative, we actually do ourselves the favor. When we think, “what a jerk,” “what an asshole,” “what a dumb ass,” “what a selfish prick,” “that person is crazy,” … Those are opinions and narratives that we are telling ourselves that may be far from the truth and are in fact detrimental to our own psyche. But, if you must have a narrative or make up a story, why not make the narrative funny or heartwarming or one in which you want to say a prayer or send a kind wish for that person? Why not just send LOVE their way? By doing this you don’t even allow yourself to be captured by negativity, you remain free.
You become captured and enslaved by your own assumptions, opinions, negativity, and judgments. So, practice not doing this. Practice pragmatic forgiveness for yourself and others in order to cultivate more joy, compassion, kindness, and LOVE in your life. Now, you may be thinking this is simple and easy for this driving scenario, but what about pragmatic forgiveness with traumatic events, abuse, painful/hurtful things and experiences? Well, the process is still simple, but maybe not as easy. Either way the intention behind forgiveness is for you to free yourself and experience more joy, happiness, and LOVE.
When forgiving, you’re not excusing what happened or a person’s behavior, you’re just allowing yourself to be free of the negative charges that will continue to occur, or even “zap” you. By holding on to that negative thought, opinion, belief, or experience you will never give yourself an opportunity to win, but always lose, because by holding on, it is your mind that continues to recall the people, the scenario, and/or the experience long after it has happened. So, it is you continuing to allow the past to be detrimental, toxic, and painful for yourself in the present and the future. By holding onto the toxic, the pain, the hurt, the sadness, the grief, the anger, you allow yourself or another to take away your joy, happiness, fulfillment, success, and most importantly LOVE. You do this by giving power over to the other or the negativity, instead of taking your power back and residing in LOVE. When you reside in LOVE you no longer allow anyone or any moment of your past to dictate your present and your future.
What if you could actually wish and hope LOVE for the person, people, things, or experiences that burden you? What if those people were transformed and became people of kindness, hope, compassion, and LOVE?
Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift for everyone?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if none of us was living in our own personal hell?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we never had to worry about that other person again because there is now nothing to worry about, being that they reside in a transformed place [LOVE]?
What if justice was LOVE?
What if justice was transformation?
What if consequences were learning kindness, compassion, joy, happiness, and LOVE?
What if discipline was about learning how to LOVE yourself so much more deeply that you could never even fathom the thought of harming yourself or someone else because there’s just too much LOVE within to even conjure such a thing?
What if we held onto and clung to LOVE instead?
What if we let go of ideologies of revenge, avenging, and causing or inflicting some sort of pain on another?
Not forgiving someone doesn’t hold them accountable or make them responsible. You can never hold another person accountable, we can only feel and experience accountability within ourselves. We are the only ones that can be accountable and feel accountable. You cannot ever make anybody else take responsibility. Responsibility is felt within a person. An individual can only feel responsible and be responsible within and for themselves. So, all of this external stuff is futile–not forgiving is futile. Only sometimes does disciplining and creating consequences deliver the outcome of accountability and responsibility. But, most times, that is not the outcome; repeat offenses are.
However, I believe that if we create a discipline of LOVE, a practice of forgiveness, and consequences were a natural result with built in lessons that yielded learning, growth and evolution, accountability and responsibility would be the outcome more often. We can best practice pragmatic forgiveness by structuring and delivering our thoughts, behaviors, actions, and beliefs from a place of LOVE, with the intention of rehabilitation and transformation (for ourselves and others).
To start practicing pragmatic forgiveness click here: LOVE. Start with the Ho’oponopono prayer and Forgiveness Mantra.
By Melissa Reese