If you are like me, there are times I read a phrase like “forgiveness and the art of well-being” and immediately bristle with resistance. Why? Because sometimes there are fresh events in my life where I might still be holding raw energy or emotions, and I am not ready to embrace the idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness can feel like a sacrifice or concession that lets someone off the hook. It feels like an act we are being asked to perform for the benefit of making someone else feel better. What I would like you to consider with me now is that the act of forgiveness is something extremely powerful that we do for ourselves and not another person.

Allow me to explain. First and foremost, when we need to forgive someone, we typically have stored energy or emotion around this event or person. We may be carrying anger, hurt, or resentment, and each time we think of that circumstance, we relive the incident. In doing so, we rekindle all the original emotions, which can create stress in our minds, hearts, and even bodies.

I want to be sensitive to the pain associated with these past events. The events were real, in some cases even traumatic. We are human beings, and emotion is a significant part of our experience. It is important to allow ourselves to acknowledge our emotional pain and trauma, to feel our feelings deeply and without judgment, so we can process them in a healthy way rather than stuff the feelings. That said, our goal in feeling and processing these emotions is to move past them so we won’t become stuck in anger or pain or resentment.

Forgiveness is an act of self-care that can free us from recalling an experience and regenerating its painful emotions. We can stop the pattern and its impact on our minds, bodies, and emotional state. We cease the roller coaster and its harm to ourselves. This is how we move past it, prioritizing our own sense of well-being and promoting better decision-making skills. Once we are able to release our mental and emotional processing of the past, we open our minds and hearts to current circumstances. We choose to fill the space with gratitude and focus on the positive desires and outcomes we are seeking in the present moment.

We must remember to include ourselves in this practice, to forgive ourselves for things we might consider mistakes or wrong choices. This is often more powerful than forgiving others. It is very easy to hold on to all of our worst decisions or management mistakes, hindering our leadership and decision-making abilities before we’ve even begun. To release ourselves from the bondage of our past actions is every bit as beneficial as forgiving another. Once we have forgiven ourselves, we can begin anew—without the shadows of previous problems or complications hanging over us.

Try This Practice 
Any time you have a memory or disturbance you want to release, become still and bring to mind the person or circumstance then recite the following mantra:

For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me.
For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them.
For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.
Depending on the magnitude of what you are trying to forgive, you might have to repeat this practice several times to release all my energy about the situation. After repeating this practice a few times, you may notice the energy dissipates and be able to release the experience and free yourself from the past. This work is critical to your own health and well-being, and also to promoting a spirit of patience, compassion and appreciation in our organizations.