By Jim Carey
Life can be challenging enough without the additional burden of having to carry all the unresolved emotional baggage that we’ve accumulated along the way. These challenges, when faced and promptly dealt with, offer us opportunities to step beyond ourselves and grow. When ignored they become part of the burden that we carry and they often interfere with our ability to deal with life on a daily basis. Carried long enough, they can affect our health, our peace of mind, our relationships and ultimately every aspect of our lives.
Unresolved emotions such as anger, resentment, jealousy and guilt can be powerful disruptions in our lives. The negative influence of these emotions can cause us to be reactive to life rather than having the ability to consciously choose our responses. The best way I have found to reduce the impact of these emotions is to actively work to identify them and then work to release them and let them go. Through the experiences I had with this work I became aware of the power of forgiveness, or the letting go of the hold that a situation or a person had on my life in order to claim back my own personal power. That piece of myself that was tied up with the negative emotions is then returned to me.
In the beginning I had to “unlearn” and let go of my old definitions and beliefs about forgiveness. Forgiveness, I learned, is a process that is very much about the “forgive -er” and often has very little to do with the “forgive-ee”. Forgiveness has nothing to do with passing judgment. I came to understand that forgiveness is ultimately about gaining more personal freedom. It is definitely not about blaming others or judging right from wrong. In my life, forgiveness has become my way of proclaiming that I am no longer willing to carry that part of my burden forward and that I am no longer willing to live with the effects of those negative emotions.
The process of forgiving others is a very person experience and can be, and often is, done without the participation of the other person. It is not really the person or the event that matters, it is letting go of the personal attachment and resulting effects that is important. By deciding that the event will no longer affect you, everything changes. The act of forgiveness is done for you and the others involved are responsible for their own process. When the person or event no longer holds an emotional charge then your energy is freed and we are then better able to make conscious choices regarding our actions and reactions to life. It is very important to remember that the act of forgiveness is non-judgmental. It is not deciding if a person or event was right or wrong, good or bad. Rather, it is a statement that you are no longer willing to carry the emotions tied to the person, event, or experience forward into your life.
It is also important to realize that forgiveness is not just for others. At times we will find that we also need to forgive ourselves for some harm (real or perceived) that we caused. This can be a very powerful experience that frees up life energy. Sometimes we are our own harshest critics and letting go of self-judgment is an essential step in personal growth. It has been my experience that the more I work with this concept of forgiveness, even to the point of seeking out events from the past that still need attention, the more it allows me to be flexible and adaptable in my daily life. I no longer feel a slave to patterned responses and behaviors from my past, but rather am free to bring more of myself into the experience of life in the present moment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Echoes from Home is the first novel published by author Jim Carey. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Jim describes himself as a story teller. His interest in the Civil War started early. After seeing Jimmy Stewart’s movie Shenandoah at the age of six, Jim became fascinated with the Civil War. As the years passed, playing with toy soldiers became part of his past, but his interest with the Civil War continued. For years Jim planned to one day write a book that would be a typical civil war story filled with names and places, battles, dates and divisions, but shortly after the writing began, the character of Joshua Miller started to fully develop and he began to realize that the Civil War was to be the backdrop for the life story of this young man and his friends as they journeyed through these powerful events in American history. Jim’s next project will be a collection of short stories based on the Civil War, tentatively entitled The High Price of Freedom.