Along with Letting Go, another key to a smooth and successful transition is Forgiveness. Perhaps it’s not immediately clear how forgiveness relates to transition. I have found that holding onto resentments and anger at another, or even at myself, makes moving through a transition to the other side that much more harrowing. When I am embroiled in resentment, I have definitely not let go, in any way, shape or form. I am stuck in the quicksand of needing to be right. And, consequently, needing the other person to be wrong. Resentment is a poison I ingest, that does me far more harm than it does the person who has offended me. We hang onto and nurture our resentments for many reasons. First, anger can feel good; powerful, even, on some level. Secondly, my pride and my ego won’t allow me to let go of a deeply held belief or mindset, because if I admit that my enemy might be right, it threatens the delicate and precarious foundation of my ego and my separate sense of self.
I have held onto some resentments for years, stoking the fire in my belly with all the wrongdoings I imagine that were done to me. I stay emotionally and spiritually stunted in my growth this way. I didn’t speak to one close friend for 16 years after a disagreement we had in 2001. It took my brother’s death to bring us back together. We both realized how precious this life is and how quickly it can all be taken away. That realization softened and opened our hearts to forgiveness. Our argument felt petty then, and so not worth all the years we wasted being angry with each other. Forgiveness is a balm, much like acceptance and letting go. It eases our pain and soothes our soul and frees us up to love again.
However, like acceptance and letting go, it doesn’t come naturally to us. We have to work at it — to consciously make a decision to think and feel differently. Oh how my pride loves to hold a grudge! It feels so much more comfortable to stay locked in a place of resentment and anger than to admit I might be wrong, or at the very least, “they” might be right. I once was at a commencement where the speaker talked of the three most important words in the English language. Not “I love you,” not “And in conclusion,” but rather “Maybe you’re right.” Three little words that start the journey to forgiveness. In my view, saying “I forgive you” takes a tremendous amount of humility and courage. Transitions can be hard enough without adding the extra impediment of self-righteous indignation to the mix. Suddenly we are free to move on, unencumbered by our preconceived notions of blame. What a gift we give ourselves and others when we truly embrace forgiveness.