Secret #15: Learn The Forgiveness Formula

The wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows
the true value of time and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain.

--Samuel Johnson

Spiritually bullet-proof people figure out how to forgive so that they can come out on top of their hits. Spiritually fragile people misunderstand forgiveness and this makes it impossible for them to let go of their negative feelings about the bullets they’ve taken. Remember Desmond Tutu’s book title No Future Without Forgiveness? Well, you seriously undermine your own future when you can’t forgive what’s happened in the past.

You may want the release that forgiveness offers but have no idea how to actually do it. It is hard to take on something as big as forgiveness if your ideas about it are confused or vague. While it may seem like they have something different or special about them because they are able to forgive, the truth is that spiritually bullet-proof people understand that forgiveness can be learned and that it is a practice, not an event.

Spiritually bullet-proof people
understand that forgiveness can be learned
and that it is a practice, not an event.

Even though it’s not always easy to forgive, it is actually a fairly simple process. The chapters that follow will offer more forgiveness coaching, but let’s begin with the basics-- the formula we’re about to share with you is straightforward and practical and will get you started.

The Forgiveness Formula

Words are powerful—they carry meaning, intention and energy. Sometimes one word can make all the difference in the world. Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had addressed a quarter of a million people in our nations’ capital and told them ‘I have an idea today” or “I have a wish today” or even “I have a vision today.” Dr. King’s dream started with the word itself and so it is that forgiveness starts with the word itself.

Take a look at how the word forgive has two parts:

for + give = forgive

The Forgiveness Formula is simple, but sometimes the simplest things are the most profound. Einstein’s e=mc2 is stunningly simple and it helped us see the universe in a whole new way. And anyone who’s ever struggled through chemistry or trigonometry knows that a formula may help us remember something important but that it only comes to life for us when we understand the different parts of the equation.

Let’s look at the very simple parts of the Forgiveness Formula:

the prefix for means before
Think about the foreword of a book—it comes before the actual narrative. A weather forecast tells us if it will rain or shine before it actually does either. With this in mind, we see that:

to forgive = to give before
To forgive is to give before or to give ahead of time. Giving ahead of time can feel counterintuitive at first—you’re probably much more comfortable giving after. For example, you give your money to the restaurant after you’ve eaten the meal and you pay your hairstylist after you’ve had the haircut. If you’re like most people, you’re probably a little nervous giving ahead of time—it can feel risky. Giving ahead of time requires faith that, in the end, you’ll get something in return. Sometimes, the only way to get something you really want is to give ahead of time even though it may require a leap of faith on your part. Take a look at this dynamic at work in your everyday life:

  • When you invest your money, you give ahead of time. When you make an automatic deposit into a mutual fund or retirement account, you get nothing tangible other than a statement at the end of the month. When you take your money out from under your mattress, you are taking a leap of faith because there’s always the chance that your investments will lose value. Sometimes your fear of such an outcome might tempt you to leave your money in a traditional savings account, but being able to tolerate some risk is essential if you want to make your money grow.
  • When you smile at or say hello to a stranger in the doctor’s waiting room or on line at the post office, you often end up having a lovely, little exchange with a unique and interesting person. Giving ahead of time, even in such mundane circumstances, is still a tiny leap of faith because there’s always that small chance that your sociability will be met with a grumpy glare or a curt reply. Sometimes your fear of such a reaction might stop you from reaching out, but you’re not risking much and the rewards of giving ahead of time in this way can be great—you may find friends or learn things you need to know while waiting in all those lobbies!
     
In both of these situations, giving ahead of time pushes you out of your comfort zone—if only a little. Forgiveness also pushes you out of your normal comfort zone—to a greater degree. It takes awareness, commitment and discipline but will reward you with super spiritual resilience. Forgiveness is one of the very best investments you will ever make. It does require a leap of faith, but it will pay off when you find yourself on top of your hit.

Giving Love Ahead of Time

When you forgive, what exactly is it that you’ll be giving ahead of time? When you forgive, it simply means that you give love ahead of time. In practical terms it means that you give love:

  • before you get an apology
  • before you see any change in the other person
  • before the situation improves
  • before your anger subsides
  • before you think it’s deserved
  • before you feel like it

It is entirely natural to feel a lot of resistance to the before part of this formula and the giving love part may push your buttons, too. It’s very helpful to understand the following things about giving love:

  • it can be a completely internal experience
  • it is something you do for yourself—it is not about anyone else
  • it does not require you to say anything to anyone
  • it does not require you to do anything at all
  • it has to do only with your own thoughts
  • it is a discipline that can be learned
     
Love is not a feeling or even an action—it is a way of thinking. When you forgive by giving love ahead of time, your motivation for doing so is your desire to free yourself from the residual pain that is keeping you from coming out on top of the hit you’ve taken. When you give love ahead of time, you are consciously choosing to have faith that forgiveness will help you bounce back from the bullet that hurt you. Everything you think and do in this process benefits you directly and works to heal your heart and your life. The Forgiveness Formula is the “for yourself” formula—it works at every level and it will work for you if you learn it and practice it.

Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
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