• John M. Smith, LCSW

Forgiveness Large and Small

“One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody every night before you go to bed.” —Bernard Baruch

When we first open to the importance of forgiveness work, our mind usually jumps to our deepest hurts and our long-standing resentments. I think this is one of the many reasons we initially resist the idea of forgiveness. The pain we carry often feels better off left alone. In truth, there is no reason to rush into a forgiveness practice. There is a time and a place to address the “large” forgiveness issues we carry, but only when we are ready and prepared to move forward.

Rarely do we associate forgiveness with the distress associated with everyday life. However, as sensitive and reactive creatures, we can understandably feel mild to extreme agitation resulting from the demands of modern living. Even in our casual conversations we often exchange comments about unexpected weather, annoying traffic, insensitive co-workers, our confusing political system, and any number of stressors that are experienced and managed each day of our lives.

There are many things about our lives we enjoy, and other elements of our lives cause a certain level of agitation. Herein lies another opportunity to utilize a forgiveness practice to release ourselves from the frustration associated with the build-up of everyday agitation. According to author Susan Pipal, “if it bugs you, you need to forgive it.”

Find a quiet moment each evening to review your day. Identify the people, events, and self-behaviors that have caused you some distress during your day. Of course, if there is something you have learned in your day or changes you have decided that need to be made, make a note of those important issues. And with a gentle breath, set the intention to forgive and free yourself from the frustrations of your day, to open yourself to a peaceful sleep, and to wake refreshed to the possibilities of a new day. This practice can be accompanied by breathing and relaxation exercises, prayers, mantras, or whatever you find works for you. But through our daily forgiveness practice we bring each day to a close with the quiet mind and an open heart.