Forgiveness is an incredible ability humans have to connect with their highest, most God-like selves.
And the founder of Mindvalley, Vishen Lakhiani, passionately advocates this power of forgiveness to not just his family and friends, but to the world.
And he doesn’t just talk the talk — he walks the walk.
When a trusted friend and employee of Vishen’s embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his company, and made personal threats towards him, his family, and his employees, Vishen was faced with a choice.
To hold resentment, or to forgive?
Needless to say, the man was forgiven. How could Vishen go about being the radiant, world-changer he is today with resentment and anger hanging over his head?
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else — you are the one who gets burned.
Vishen understands how radically important forgiveness is.
That’s why learning how to forgive is a prominent staple in his program, Becoming Limitless — which ultimately teaches you how to attain the highest level of consciousness you’ve ever experienced.
And it’s also why this article (right here) has been written: to serve as a guide to help you learn how to let go of the hot coal of anger, once and for all, and fully forgive both yourself and those who have hurt you.
What Is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is an act of consciously resolving any negative emotions (like anger and resentment) you have towards a person who did something something to offend or harm you.
Furthermore, deep and unconditional forgiveness involves developing empathy and compassion towards the person you want to forgive.
Forgiveness is perhaps one of the greatest abilities we have over our perception and emotions. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and teachers of every religion have known that choosing forgiveness and compassion over resentment is the path to a long and happy life.
Now, science is beginning to measure the effects of forgiveness on the body and mind. The results confirm what religious sages have been saying for thousands of years — there is something truly divine about forgiveness.
In the body, forgiveness reduces pain, reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and ultimately extends life. Forgiveness may even increase your chances of beating cancer.
In the mind, forgiveness has even more astounding effects.
The practice of deep, unconditional forgiveness creates alpha waves, which can transform your brain to function like a zen-monk (really, check out 40 Years of Zen). These alpha waves are linked to inspiration, genius-level intelligence, peak performance, balanced emotional capacity, and even increased immunity.
Check out our article What Is Forgiveness And How Can It Transform My Brain for more information about the immense power of forgiveness.
The key to accessing the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits lies in learning how to truly and unconditionally forgive. Read on to find out what unconditional forgiveness really looks like.
How To Treat People Who Hurt You
Most of us think we have a grasp on forgiveness; we say “I forgive you,” and do our best to move on with our lives. But unconditional forgiveness takes kindness and compassion to a whole other level.
Take this story of radical forgiveness by a courageous and compassionate man named Chris Carrier for example:
Chris was abducted when he was 10 years old, taken to a swamp, and brutally assaulted to within an inch of his life. But, miraculously, he managed to survive.
2 decades later, Chris was told the man who was suspected of assaulting him was laying on his deathbed. Chris chose to confront him.
The man confessed to his crimes.
Chris had already forgiven the man long ago. He let go of the anger and resentment from this terrifying experience. But when met face-to-face with his abductor, rather than rage, he chose to express forgiveness towards the man. But he didn’t stop there.
Chris comforted and cared for his attacker, who was blind and had nobody to care for him through his last weeks of life. He brought him his favorite foods and gifts, and treated him like a friend.
Chris’ act of radical forgiveness not only brought peace to his attacker and himself, but showed the world what an act of unconditional forgiveness can look like.
For another example of profound, paradigm-shattering forgiveness, check out our article How To Treat People Who Hurt You: Tapping Into Your God-Self.
Now that we understand what radical forgiveness looks like, how can we develop our ability to do it?
Practicing How To Forgive
Forgiveness is like a muscle — it must be trained (under the right conditions) so it can be strengthened.
The 3 requirements to practice and develop your ability to radically forgive are
- Adversity. Turn your obstacles into opportunities for growth.
- Unconditional Acceptance. Accept things as they are. You cannot change the past, but you can shape the future with your choice to live in the present moment.
- Unconditional Empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you want to forgive. Understand how and why they could have done what they did.
Check out How To Forgive: Ancient Buddhist Ideals For Modern Utility for more information on these 3 steps to develop true, deep forgiveness.
Letting Go Of Negative Emotions
When faced with adversity, it is perfectly natural to feel negative emotions like anger and resentment. But you must learn to let go of these emotions to start the forgiving process.
It is important to take time to completely feel the depth of your anger and come to terms with it.
Here are some actions that may help you express and release your negative emotions:
- Allow yourself to fully feel the pain (or else it gets stored in your body)
- Do something physically active
- Find a creative outlet (writing a poem, painting, dancing, ect)
- Visualize yourself 10 years from now (it can change your perspective of the situation)
- Practice compassion and empathize with the person who hurt you
To learn more in-depth about these methods, check out, Need Help Letting Go? These 3 Methods Will Set You Free.
How To Start Moving On
Along with letting go of negative emotions, it is important to move on from your perspective or situation so that you can prepare yourself to fully forgive someone.
Moving on from your perspective means letting go of harmful ideas that hold you back from unconditional forgiveness.
Rather than thinking “this person hates me” or “this person is evil,” open yourself up to thoughts like, “this person can teach me a constructive lesson” or “this person can help me grow.”
Moving on from your situation is important if you are in any type of toxic relationship — whether with a friend, family member, coworker, or significant other.
For 3 tactful (yet fully effective) ways to help you move on from an unhealthy relationship, check out our article, Forgiving Toxic People And Moving Onto A Better Life.
5 Steps To Saying “I Forgive You”
Once you have come to terms with your negative emotions, you are ready to forgive.
Here we will distill our 5-step method to reaching forgiveness.
- Confront. Identify who you want to forgive, and what you want to forgive them for.
- Understand. Determine what factors could have caused that person to act the way they did.
- Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes, and truly empathize with their actions.
- Transform. Create a positive and memorable lesson.
- Forgive. You are ready to forgive when you have the capability to sincerely look them in they eye and genuinely give them a hug. Until then, they are not fully forgiven.
To learn more about this process, check out 5 Steps To Sincerely Saying I Forgive You.
How To Forgive Yourself
Self-forgiveness is an even more valuable aspect of forgiveness. And, at times, even more difficult.
While forgiving others can make being around people more enjoyable, self-forgiveness is necessary for being happy within yourself.
In Buddhist teachings there are 2 paths to self-forgiveness.
One path is called intelligence.
Self-forgiveness is attained through this path by using your thoughts to change your attitude and perspective toward the actions you believe are “mistakes.” By looking at your “mistakes” as opportunities for growth, you can begin to feel gratitude (rather than resentment) toward them.
The other path is called wisdom.
Self-forgiveness is attained through this path by changing the relationship you have with your guilty and shameful thoughts and emotions. By incorporating mindfulness, unconditional self love, and acceptance into your relationship with yourself, you can compassionately (and effortlessly) come to terms with who you are and what you have done.
To learn more about the Buddhist paths to forgiveness, check out How To Forgive Yourself: Opportunities to Grow And Learn.
So, Forgive And Forget?
A common saying in our society is “forgive and forget.”
While forgiveness and moving forward are important, truly forgetting can be highly destructive.
When we forgive, we are learning a lesson from the Universe. We are growing in our capacity to love, empathize, and be compassionate.
When we forgive and forget, we are taking away our capacity to grow from forgiveness.
For more about the counter-intuitive nature of “forgive and forget,” read Why We Shouldn’t Forgive And Forget.
Inspiring Forgiveness Quotes
To wrap it up, we’ll leave you with 3 inspiring quotes about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a transformative act because it asks you to be a more empathetic and compassionate person, thereby making you better than the person you were when you were hurt.
— Kamand Kojouri
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
― Martin Luther King Jr.
God has sent you nothing but angels — everyone who has come in your life and done something to wrong you — you can choose to perceive that as an angel doing something to get you to the next level of your evolution.
— Vishen Lakhiani, inspired by Neale Donald Walsch