I planned to stop this series at #13 because it’s a master number in numerology. Then I thought, “why provide a 13-piece toolkit when you can provide a 15-piece one?” and decided to throw a couple more tools in. The first is Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a word that gets bandied around a lot. Phrases like “forgive and forget,” or variations, like “I will forgive but I won’t forget,” trip easily from our tongues, often with little genuine intent attached to them.

When used as a tool in a toolbox, forgiveness is a powerful tool that can be used very specifically. It’s particularly useful for dealing with past issues. Here’s an example.

As within, so without

I once met a man with a very tragic past, for which he not only blamed himself but also was unable to forgive himself. The guilt he was unable to release was making him miserable. He also admitted that he was unable to forgive any wrong that was done to him. At the time I met him, he had three outstanding court cases against people he felt had wronged him.

What this man couldn’t see was that his guilt and the court cases were reflections of each other. The tool he needs is forgiveness. If he can’t apply it to himself he could just as effectively apply it to others. Dropping the court cases—forgiving others—opens the door to self-forgiveness because one cannot exist without the other. So if you’re struggling to forgive yourself, forgive another; or vice-versa.

Changing the past

The act of forgiveness changes the past. This may seem like a trite sound-bite but let’s look a little closer. What is the past? It actually has two elements: the stuff that happened (actions, words, thoughts, feelings) and how you feel about it now.

What happened in the past is water under the bridge. If you have painful memories about a past event, they are actually emotions that occurred in that past moment that you were unable to process at the time and hence got stuck in your emotional body. The reason you rejected those emotions was because you could not accept that negative event was happening to you and went into denial.

The event is now long past but the unprocessed feelings are still with you. Open your toolbox and get out some forgiveness. You might imagine it as a big spanner that undoes rusted up nuts, or a tube of forgiveness grease that gets those old feelings unstuck. Apply forgiveness liberally and the past will melt away.

Image: Forgiveness by Scem.info on Flickr. Cropped to 16:9.