Beliefnet
Because This Is Your Life

It was the most unusual way to spend Thanksgiving and certainly one that most people would avoid like a plague.

And it’s one that I experienced several years ago.

On the surface it seemed like a time to give thanks for all that I had…and it truly was.

Beneath the surface and unseen to everyone, something else was taking place.

And so there I sat in front of my computer with a decision to make…

“Do I write the email or not?”

Because I knew that one way or another this was going to determine, in a very large way, what path my life was going down from this point onward.

What led up to this are the events that took place just two months earlier…

I drove across the United States—from New Jersey to California—to become a business partner with a person named Brian. I gave this person $30,000 and within 2 weeks had a very uneasy feeling about the entire situation. As a result I backed out of the deal and wanted my money back.

I then drove back across the country (to New Jersey), and just knew that most likely I wasn’t getting the $30,000 back. Including travel, moving expenses, legal fees, and all the other expenses it totaled over $50,000.

And so there I sat on Thanksgiving night, just 3 weeks after getting back from California, in front of the computer and deciding whether to write an email to Brian…the same person who got an easy $30,000 off me.

Actually there were two decisions…

“Do I write the email” and if so, “What do I write?”

“Do I write the email in a rage of anger just to get it all off my chest” or “Do I write a more peaceful email and just let Brian know what he did and that it wasn’t right?”

I decided to write it after all.

And what it came down to was this…

“Should I forgive him” or “Not forgive him?”

As I sat there, I remember how so many people would say that the best thing you could and “should” do is to just forgive someone…because that will help you to “let go” and make peace with the situation.

But for some reason I gave this more thought and was left with a choice of two very interesting questions…

Does forgiveness help you to let go?
Or

Does forgiveness stop you from letting go?

…And at that moment I started to write the email.

1. Here comes the judge

As I began writing the email to Brian, I realized in order to forgive him that I first had to judge him as doing something wrong…as doing something I saw as being negative. I also realized that as long as I had this mindset that I’d be judging him and what happened in a negative way…

And trust me there were many drawbacks and negatives.

I felt that my life had taken 10 steps and 10 years backwards. I felt disrespected. I felt cheated. I also felt as though I couldn’t trust myself or my decision making moving forward. And this certainly affected making decisions in the other areas of my life as well.

Leading up to that moment I perceived Brian as being a thief, ripping me off, taking advantage of my inexperience as it related to business, being pushy, betraying me, being two faced, and being manipulative.

These were the thoughts going through my mind as I started to type out each word at a time in that email.

Think about a situation that you’ve been in where you were about to (and ultimately did) forgive someone. Did you judge them as doing something wrong or negative to you? What were the thoughts going through your mind at that moment? What were your feelings towards the person?

Something else happened while typing that email. And this was the first revelation I had that night which change the path of my life.

I realized that as long as I had those negative feelings and saw those drawbacks, that it would continue to run my life. And if I continued to see what Brian “did” to me in this way that I’d never be able to let go of it…

Because leading up to that moment I only saw one side of the situation…the negatives, the drawbacks.

But what about the other side of it?

What about the positives and benefits to what happened? As this crazy idea crossed my mind, of course I tried to dismiss it, but something told me that there was a life lesson to be learned here.

And it was at this moment that I started to consider the idea of “not forgiving” Brian.

2. There are no mistakes

I’m sure you’ve heard many times that it’s important to forgive others. And that by doing so you’ll be able to let go. Now even though this is what you’ve been taught throughout your life, is it really true?

If this is the case and forgiving others is “supposed” to help you let go, then why was I sitting there on that Thanksgiving night getting thoughts of “not forgiving” someone who I felt at the time ripped me off?

And then the reason became clear…

Because I sensed that there were positives and benefits to what I perceived Brian as doing. I also realized that this wasn’t a crazy idea that crossed my mind.

Not only that, but I started to see that there were just as many benefits as drawbacks. And some of those benefits included:

“It helped me to get out of my comfort zone and “stretch” myself more than before.”
“It helped me to become more aware of if I am valuing myself and my abilities.”

“It has helped me to become aware of how to deal with “high level” situations involving large sums of money.”

“It gave me the freedom to go and start my own business”

“It helped me to become more business savvy.”

“It sent me down the path of doing what I love and be able to help others as a result.”

And while I started to see more and more of the benefits, I also came to the realization that there were no such things as mistakes.

Now, if you find yourself about to forgive someone ask, “what am I forgiving them for?” Then ask, “what are the benefits of that?”

For example…

Let’s say you’re about to forgive someone because you felt they betrayed you. As a result you feel that they were dishonest. So, you would ask, “how did their dishonesty benefit me in the different areas of my life?” And then come up with the same amount of benefits as drawbacks.

If you can’t see just as many benefits as drawbacks of their dishonesty, then no matter how much you say that you forgave them…you’re still holding on to it and therefore haven’t let go.

Because after all, is it really necessary to “forgive” someone for something that has also benefitted your life just as equally?

As soon as I had this revelation it was very obvious that I wasn’t going to forgive Brian.

3. The hidden order

Now you may be thinking that since I decided not to forgive Brain that I wasn’t able to “let go” and move on with my life. Actually the opposite happened…I was able to let go and it changed the course of my entire life.

In the email I wrote to Brain on that Thanksgiving night, I thanked him for the experience. And with that being the case there was no need to forgive him. Because after all, what was there to forgive him for…for helping and waking me up to several blind spots I wasn’t aware of?

And just so you know, I wasn’t letting him “off the hook.” He didn’t “get away” with anything. There wasn’t any of the so called “good” and “bad” karma involved in any of this.

Simply put, it was another human being (Brian) in a long list of other human beings that I came across on my life’s journey that was there to help me realize my own brilliance and magnificence…

So was it necessary to forgive him for that? Of course not. That’s why I said, “thank you” in the email…to which he never replied.

And through the apparent chaos of this experience there was a hidden order…one that would never have been uncovered if I had chosen to forgive Brian.

That hidden order is what I was able to uncover as a result of seeing both sides equally. It allowed me to “let go” and go down a completely different life path…one that I know now is my true calling in life.

The same is true for you.

It’s just a question of, “what is that for you?”

“What is it that you’re here to be, do, and have in your life?”

“What is it about who you are that brings value to the world?”

And along with that…

“How can you use your uniqueness in a way that helps you bring all of this into your current reality?”

These are the questions that gets you to come up with the answers.

And in those answers is where you discover the magnificence and brilliance of who you are…

So rather than forgiving yourself and others, thank yourself and the people who have contributed to you being the special person that you really are.

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