October 26, 2016

7 Lessons From Famous People About Forgiving Others

We all have bad things happen to us that require us to forgive, but famous people are forced to either hang on to stuff or forgive in public. And because not forgiving other people can affect our lives in a big way, it becomes obvious when famous people are struggling with something from the past through their interviews and public appearances. While that’s not a fun thing for famous people, it is a good thing for all of us. We get to see what the act of forgiving or not forgiving can do to someone and apply those lessons in our own life.

The fact is that famous people have a lot of insight into forgiveness. Besides the everyday stuff that we all go through with relationships, they have to deal with very public unwarranted rumors, scrutiny, and crazy fans who can do them harm. Following are a few thoughts that popular celebrities have had about forgiving the people from their past and present.

1. We Are All Human Beings

We all know that Jennifer Aniston has had to do some forgiving in order to move past the affair that ended her marriage. Obviously, she was wronged much more publicly than most of us have been in a bad relationship, so she had to make statements about the affair and the divorce and how she felt afterward. One of the statements she made was simply that we are all human beings who make mistakes, which is such an important thing to remember in the act of forgiving.

Humans make mistakes. They make choices based on emotions, and sometimes those choices are really bad. That’s the way it goes. We all need to make some mistakes in life before we can grow and become better people.

While you don’t have to keep someone in your life who hurt you in some way, you can still recognize that their decisions were based on what they thought was the best at the time. It was the best they could do with what they had.

Knowing that they did the best they could, even if it was downright horrible, is comforting in some way. It helps you disengage from the belief that they intentionally hurt you and acted out of spite or anger instead of ignorance. That knowledge can help you forgive them and move on from the hurt that they caused.

Jennifer was able to collect herself, take some time to be single, and then find the love of her life because she was able to forgive. If she held resentment against Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, there is a good chance she could have sabotaged her career and her love life in the process.

2. It’s All An Experience

Oprah Winfrey has made it clear that there is a lot of people and situations she needed to forgive in her past, and that includes forgiving herself.

We all know she was raped, sexually abused, and has gone through many struggles with many people over the years that she needed to move forward from in order to get where she is.

And, through all her interviews with people who were struggling with issues and people from their past, Oprah has collected a lot of insight into forgiveness, how to do it, and what it can do for your life.

One of her most telling thoughts on forgiveness is when she said that real forgiveness is about being able to say thank you for the experience that you had.

That may sound crazy, considering what she and some other people have been through. You may think ‘how can you say thank you for being raped?’ I think the message here is not that it’s alright to be raped, but it’s alright to forgive the person and take something from the experience in a way that can benefit your life.

The real message here is that it’s easy to view the good times as experiences that we needed in life. But, the bad times are equally important, if not more so. They teach us a lot about who we are, how strong we are, and how we need to interact with the world and other people in order to be happy.

I don’t know exactly what she took from her experiences, but I imagine it was many important things – important lessons – that helped her become stronger, smarter, and move to the place where she is now. Oprah is perhaps one of the strongest and most wise famous people I know simply because of her experiences and because she has learned from hundreds and hundreds of people over the years.

3. They Were Probably In Pain When They Wronged You

Joel Osteen is a popular American preacher. He helps people work through their problems in a way that helps them move forward to a happier and healthier life. His messages are relatable to everyone, not just his congregation, and I highly recommend tuning into him on TV each Sunday for some uplifting messages that you can apply to your life.

In his book, ‘Your Best Life Now’, he says that people often hurt people as a result of their own pain. This is an important thing to remember as you work on forgiving someone who has hurt you in life. The fact is that they may not have been hell-bent on making your life miserable simply for the sake of it. They may have been in so much pain that they were unable to do anything kind, loving, or morally right.

Think about the times that you are in pain. Think about the times that you are sad, angry, or hurt. Are you always capable of making the kindest and smartest decisions? No! You are more likely to make a rash decision based on your emotions than logic.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but people in a large amount of pain with a little amount of awareness outside their own problems, simply don’t see that. They often act without thinking about little more than their needs, and sometimes they want people to hurt just as much as they hurt.

Take into account the pain that someone was feeling when they hurt you as you attempt to forgive them. If you can see their struggles, and how those struggles influenced their choices, you will have an easier time working through the forgiveness process.

4. Don’t Deny Yourself Life’s Blessings By Holding On To The Past

Tisha Campbell, a long-time actress and singer, was on Steve Harvey talking about forgiveness, and her message was a powerful one. While I’m sure there were many things she needed to forgive in life, the subject around forgiveness came up because she was talking about the fact that she was sexually assaulted when she was 3-years-old and recently received a five-page letter from the man who assaulted her.

She said that when you hold on to the guilt and anger and all those negative emotions, there is something that stops you from moving forward in life and receiving all of the blessings that come to you. Why? Because even though something happened to you a month, a year, a decade, or ten decades ago, you can still replay it over and over in your mind as if it is happening to you right now. How can you move on with a clear slate and fully trust someone, embrace love, or put your heart out there if you are always focused on what has happened to you from the past?

As Nelson Mandela has stated, he knew that if he carried anger and bitterness through the prison doors, he would always be stuck in prison and never be able to enjoy the freedom and the life that he was about to have. That’s a powerful lesson in forgiveness. He was able to remove the wall that held him back from true freedom and stop replaying the past in his mind.

If you are waiting on something from the past to change and you are unable to fully live in the moment and discover all of the blessings that are around you, then you can’t put your full focus on what is happening now because one eye is always focused on the past and the wrong doings that have been done to you.

If you want to experience all that life has to offer – all the blessings that are in your present and future – then forgiveness is key. It will help you put all of your attention on the things that can make your life better. It will help you put all of your efforts into a relationship that will change your life for the better. It will help you perceive life in a better way that allows you to see a true blessing when it comes around. It will help you live your life fully.

5. Being Happy Makes Forgiving Others Easier

Princess Diana struggled with a lot in her life, and she did it very publicly. It wasn’t long after she was married that problems started in her marriage to Charles and it all fell apart. But still, she was known and is remembered for being compassionate, caring, and loving. In order to be that kind, she had to forgive on some level or her struggle would have been well known.

One of the things that Princess Diana said was that when you feel happy you can forgive a lot. That’s a huge lesson in how to get to forgiveness.

When you are truly happy, things seem less upsetting and it’s easier to forgive. Therefore, focus on being as happy as you can and the energy that comes from that will help you work through the issues you’ve had with more ease.

Build your happiness by focusing on gratitude, building loving relationships, doing what you love, getting rid of toxic people from your life, and engaging in activities that make you feel alive. You can do all of these things even if you haven’t been able to forgive past trespasses. And you will find that the happier you become, the less likely you will be to hold on to resentment and anger and the more likely you will be to forgive.

6. Strong People Forgive And Weak People Hold Onto The Past

Do you hold the belief that only the weak forgive? That couldn’t be further from the truth. As T.D. Jakes, a well-known pastor has said, it takes a strong person to be able to forgive. And Iyanla Vanzant, who bases a lot of her career around the topic of forgiving has said that if you can’t forgive, you can’t open up your ability to make powerful choices for your life.

Strong people are able to pick themselves up, put their happiness and health first, and do what needs to be done in order to do that. That includes forgiving things and people from the past and looking forward to the future.

The problem is that many people think it’s weak to let people get ‘off the hook’ for what they’ve done. But, being weak is all about being controlled by other people and not being in charge of your life, which is what happens when you are unable to forgive.

When you can’t forgive someone, you are giving them power over how you feel, what you do, what you believe, and how you act. In other words, you are giving the person who hurt you in some way complete power over your life. How is that being strong?

Strong people take back their life. They resume being in charge by removing the grip that people from the past have on them. And they do that by letting go their anger, hurt, and resentment.

7. Forgiving Others Allows You To Forgive Yourself

Jane Fonda has done a lot in her 78 years, and she has a lot of wisdom to share, especially on being happy and forgiveness. One of the most powerful things I’ve heard her say was that when you are able to forgive other people, you are able to forgive yourself too. Think about that.

If something bad happens to you, a lot of the blame may go towards someone else, but a lot of it will go towards you too. You may blame yourself for putting yourself in a bad situation. You may blame yourself for not seeing what was going to happen earlier. And, you may not even realize how much you are beating yourself up.

It’s human nature to say I should have or could have, but just as other people are human and make mistakes, so are you. If you can forgive other people in a situation that you’ve found hard to forgive, then you can start to forgive yourself too.

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