Letting Go of the Past: Forgiveness

Last week, I finished listening to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It had been on my “to-read” list for years, when by a stroke of fate a dear friend offered to lend me her audio copy. I plan to do a full review of the book in the coming weeks but for now I want to focus on one important element—forgiveness of the past.

Recently I started thinking about the first twenty-five years of my life. In The Power of Now, we learn that to live in the future or the past is to suffer. The only way to exist in true harmony is to live in the now. After all, the past is not real, the future is not real. The past and the future only exist in our minds. The only thing that is truly and completely real, is the now.

The challenge with this, however, is that until we can accept, understand, and move on from the conditioning of the past, we can not experience true freedom. And in order to truly accomplish this, we must experience true forgiveness of the past—forgiving others & ourselves completely.

As I reflected upon these truths, I realized that I have been holding on to a tremendous amount of pain from my own personal history. There is so much past that continues to haunt me and impact me in the now. One of the greatest sources of pain revolves around my former lifestyle.

I spent so much of my life caught up in a false sense of self. I spent incredible amounts of money on material possessions that I now perceive as worthless (clothes, jewelry, useless electronics, etc.) For some reason, I fell into the marketing. I bought it—all of it. (You can read more about my journey into financial prison and my subsequent journey out in previous posts.)

But that’s not really the point, the point is that I ended up here. I can sit around and feel sorry for myself, angry that so much of my life was wasted, frustrated that I’ve only paid off a fraction (albeit a substantial fraction) of my debts so far; but if I did all of that where would it get me? It wouldn’t get me anywhere except maybe on a private jet to my own personal pity party. No thank you.

Instead of wallowing, I am grateful. Grateful that I have come this far. Grateful that I’ have learned these lessons and changed the direction of my life by the age of 25 (soon-to-be 26). Grateful to be surrounded by a community of people that support me and believe in me. Grateful to have discovered my life’s true purpose and passion. Grateful to be doing what I love (even if only part of the time). Grateful to be safe, secure, healthy, strong, and beautiful.

As I move through these emotions of gratitude for what I have now and what I am now, I find that the pain of my history slips away. I believe that I am finally on a path toward true forgiveness of the past. The reality is that it happened. I made mistakes, like all fallible human beings do. However, without making those mistakes, I may never have come to this place, to this now.

The past grants us wisdom & grace. The memories that haunt us the most, are usually the memories that taught us the greatest lessons. Forgiveness will come from acceptance. So, the trick to true forgiveness is true acceptance. Once we can accept our past unconditionally, we can live fully in the now.

I am making my way on this journey slowly. For most of my life, I focused almost entirely on the past—heart breaks, mistakes, errors in judgment, loss, failures, and so on—but that was a tragic mistake. What I now know is that the past is gone, the only thing that matters is now. And likewise, the future is a distant place that exists only in my mind. The only thing that matters is right now.

Transforming the way that I think has been a challenging process, but I have come a tremendous distance already and I will keep on pushing forward, always.

Now I ask you, reader, what pieces of your past are you holding on to? Are you willing to accept those pieces unconditionally so that you may truly forgive and live in harmony & light? Will you join me on this journey?