As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, who will you have to become, to give yourself the gift of forgiveness?

For your mental and physical well-being, forgive sooner rather than later. None of us know our expiration date.

Photo courtesy of Fuzzyyol

Photo courtesy of Fuzzyyol

Recently, I had a conversation with a good friend regarding something someone did to him in the past. As I listened to them relive the experience, for the fourth or fifth time in my presence, I could feel the emotions gushing in, over, and through him: anger, frustration, regret, and sorrow to name a few.

My intuition told me anger was at the top of the list.

I wondered, how long will they be able to carry this emotional baggage around with them?

Here’s a few ways to unload the emotional baggage and move on:

1 – Commit to forgive.

How long have you been holding onto these thoughts? Enough is enough! Not tomorrow nor the next day. At this very moment, commit to forgive. You’ll immediately feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.

2 – Forgive doesn’t mean you have to forget.

It’s impossible to forget what happened. Acknowledge the situation, and learn from it. Next time, hopefully you’ll be in a better position to not let it happen again.

3 – Being mad at the other person hurts nobody else except you.

What do they say? Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. We’ve all had these thoughts. As Mike Dooley says “Thoughts become things….choose the good ones.”

4 – Step into their shoes.

For a moment, take the point of view of the other side. What were they thinking? What prompted them to act this way? Was there something from the past that contributed to their behavior? In any way, did you contribute to the wrongdoing? What could you have done differently?

5 – Your storytelling is feeding the fire of resentment.

At some point, stop telling your story to everyone and move on. Otherwise, telling the story over and over will fuel the emotional fire. In the beginning, it’s good to be heard. Consider talking to a counselor to free your emotions.

6 – Turn the page.

When I was a young man, I was going through a tough time. Mom was cleaning the kitchen after serving one of her delicious dishes. “Steven, turn the page!” she shouted. The most important piece of advice I ever received. This event was a blip on the radar screen of my life. One of many chapters. Hopefully, God willing, I’ll have many more.

As Matthew West says in his song “Forgiveness”:

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Happy Thanksgiving.

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