The Arduous Practice of Forgiveness

I keep hearing and reading from many spiritual leaders that in order for us to live a life with an inner peace that never gets disturbed, we have to practice meditation or prayer, we have to keep on giving until it hurts, we have to practice self-awareness, and we have to learn how to forgive others, to name a few. I would like to regretfully inform you that I am none of the above mentioned, especially the forgive-others part. I keep trying to be a good person but there are some days where it’s just so, so hard. Especially when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t the type who practice even the least bit of self-awareness.

The light that you have tried so hard to fan the flames of is sometimes no match when placed somewhere that is ultimately engulfed in darkness. No matter how positive you try to be, if you are in a place where negativity is at a high saturation point, you will ultimately succumb to the negative, because energy doesn’t lie. There is a game in psychology that if you look at a person straight in the eye for seven seconds straight and smile at them with your warmest, most genuine smile, no matter how good they are at maintaining their poker face, they will eventually smile as well. If they didn’t smile, they’re probably a psychopath. Okay, I was joking on the psychopath (but hey, you’ll never know). Imagine how contagious a genuine smile is that it only takes a full seven seconds for the other person to reciprocate it. I think it works as well the other way around. If you are exposed to a surrounding where there is no kindness, even if you are the kindest person in that place, you will eventually run out of kindness because you are not being filled up with it.

Sometimes when people have used up all the kindness that you have allotted for them and you start to feel like you are being drained of whatever light you have left, you begin to form loathing in your heart and day by day you find yourself nurturing it, and it embarrassingly feels good.

They say you have to forgive in order to keep your peace of mind undisturbed. I find it hard to forgive and I keep the peace in my life by cutting people off and I am ashamed to say this but I feel good. It feels so much more peaceful when some people are not in your space, when they are not getting free rent in your mind. And sometimes I gleefully think that in five years’ time, they will be completely out of my life.

When I resolved last week that I will start writing again and try to bring light to others through my writing, I promised it to myself so naively yet so earnestly that now that I am on a roll and nearing my first week, I realised how difficult the task really is. I mean, I’m no spiritual leader; I’m just as messed up, confused, and fumbling in the dark about spirituality like the rest of us. And to top the proverbial icing on the cake, the cherry is my inability to forgive.

What I do is that I remove myself as much as possible from the environment or situation or the people causing the negativity. You can’t stay in the pool if you want to dry out your bathing suit. You can’t keep rolling in mud if you plan on getting yourself tidy. I remove myself from the negativity because just as I have said in my previous paragraph, energy doesn’t lie. You’ll pick up the energy from others especially if you are empathetic. That’s why we have this saying that goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” You are the sum of the people you regularly hang out with. You will eventually pick up their mannerisms, their choice of words, their preferences whether it be on clothing, or life partners, and everything in between. I remove myself and spend some time with myself to reflect on how things are with me, I literally ask myself if I’m okay. And then I go to my weekend friends. I heard someone say that we have weekday friends and weekend friends; your weekend friends are your true friends. They are willing to spend their free time on weekends with you even if they have something important to do, like take the time to rest from work. Your weekend friends are the ones who understand you, who are willing to absorb your rants and they make you feel better after meeting up with them. My weekend friends literally keep me grounded and they recharge my batteries so that I can be able to jump into the murk of negativity again if the need arises and come out still intact on the other side.

I am not the poster child for forgiveness, far from it. But I am aware of my deficiency and I know that I have to do something about it, because I have learned that being an adult entails more than just paying the bills and saving some money. Being an adult also means that you are self-aware and you own up to your actions because making yourself accountable to your actions is what sets you apart from your younger self. After self-awareness is the hard part because that means, you actually have to do something about it. Believe me, I’ve been trying but it’s so, so hard, but I still try because I know that we are not asked to be perfect, but we are welcome to strive for it.

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