If you’ve ever felt betrayed by someone in your past, here’s a powerful forgiveness practice my mentor taught me that you can begin applying starting today.
Are you harboring any feelings of bitterness and resentment toward someone you feel may have wronged you in the past?
If you’re ready to finally clear these toxic feelings, so that you can move toward loving all aspects of your life, what you’re about to read will help you do this!
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ~Nelson Mandela
As a young woman, I held on to several resentments toward other people that I thought were very well deserved. Like many of us, I sometimes blamed others for some things that, as I saw it at the time, I felt had been “done to me” in my life.
Then, I entered a spiritual path. I began studying transformational teachings, I went to a seminary, and I received a Masters Degree in counseling psychology and began counseling others.
As I continued to grow spiritually, I began to identify and release old resentments that had been holding me back from fully being my best self.
I knew there was still more work to do in my personal development, so that I could bring my best to the people in my life (including coaching clients I was working with), and I intuitively knew that I needed the help of a mentor to do it.
Then, I met and began working with my first mentor, Jack Boland.
Over the course of the first two years that I worked with Jack, one of the pieces of work we did together was to look for any places inside of me where there were still some feelings of resentment.
Now, I’d done a lot of forgiveness work by this time, yet there were still times when I’d think about someone from my past, or situations that had occurred, and feel a tinge of bitterness, righteous anger, or even victimhood.
You may have heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. You only end up harming yourself.
I knew that if I wanted to create a life I truly loved, and to have freedom from these painful feelings, I needed to find a way to release these lingering resentments.
Then, my mentor shared a personal development lesson with me that changed my life…
Jack told me that, when he was a young man in his first marriage, he invested everything he had in a business he started with his brother-in-law, Garnet.
Jack was about 30 years old, and he’d even borrowed money from his father in order to start this business.
In this partnership, Garnet managed the money and the business, while Jack was the salesperson. The business was going well for about nine months, then Jack began to receive letters saying that some of the bills of the business weren’t being paid.
Taking a closer look at the company’s finances, Jack discovered that Garnet had systematically taken all of the money out of the business for his own personal use, leaving the business bankrupt.
Understandably, Jack was devastated for several reasons!
All the money he’d saved up in the decade since he’d graduated from college was now gone. The money his father had loaned him was also gone…
And of course, Jack felt betrayed by someone he trusted, who didn’t seem to be bothered by this state of affairs at all!
When Jack confronted Garnet, his brother-in-law simply said, “I don’t know, the money’s gone. I can’t get it back. It is what it is.”
Garnet then abandoned the business and Jack and went on with his life, leaving Jack to pick up the pieces.
Jack struggled with bitterness and resentment from Garnet’s betrayal.
Thankfully, Jack didn’t go bankrupt. He systematically worked for three years to pay off all of the business’ debts. During this time, his also marriage disintegrated, leaving Jack to start this new chapter of his life alone.
Jack eventually moved to a new area of the country and entered a different career, speaking and teaching and becoming increasingly successful.
But even though life took Jack in a new direction, he still carried the resentment over what had happened between him and his brother-in-law with him.
Every time he thought about Garnet, even years later, he noticed that he felt resentful and frustrated, like there were a ball and chain around his leg.
By then, Jack had been teaching and helping other people to transform their lives, and he knew that to really take his work to the next level, he needed to clear this resentment toward Garnet.
Here’s the powerful forgiveness practice that Jack Boland used to release his resentment and actually replace it with love:
Jack told me, “I’d had years and years of thinking angry, resentful, mean, bitter thoughts about Garnet, and I didn’t know how to transform that.
“Eventually, I found myself in my second marriage. I now had a five-year-old son, and I just loved my little boy. Any time I would think of my son, my heart would open, and I would feel this huge wave of love wash over me for him.
“One day, an idea came to me. Anytime I thought of my son and felt this build up of unconditional love for him, then in my mind, I would replace the picture of my son with a picture of Garnet.
“Once I’d done this, I would say, ‘Garnet, may you be happy and do well. I forgive you for everything that happened in the past. We were young. And whatever you did with that money, I really wish you well because that’s what I wish for myself and that’s what I wish for all people.’”
Jack told me that this exercise was not easy initially.
At first, he found it very difficult to swap the mental image he had of his son with one of Garnet, and to forgive Garnet and wish him well…
But over time and with a lot of repetition over the course of many months, it became easier and easier for him, until he got to a place where he actually did feel he’d let things go and genuinely wished Garnet well.
Then one day, Jack saw Garnet for the first time in years, and the fruits of his forgiveness practice were tested.
A few months after Jack first began his forgiveness practice, he found himself on a business trip back in the city where he had lived during his first marriage and where his business with Garnet had been based.
In his rental car on the way to his hotel, he pulled up at a red light and happened to notice a beautiful convertible with the top down pulled up in the lane next to him.
“Wow, what a beautiful car,” Jack thought. Then, to his surprise, he noticed that the man behind the wheel was his former brother-in-law, Garnet.
Garnet didn’t notice Jack, but Jack sure noticed Garnet, and in that moment, Jack found himself thinking, “Wow, it looks like Garnet is doing really well. I’m happy for him.”
Gone were the feelings of anger and bitterness for this man who Jack had resented for so many years.
The light changed, and the two men drove on, and Jack thought, “Think of the timing. I got off the plane, went to the restroom at just the right time, got in this rental car at just the right time… everything worked out precisely so that I would be in this exact spot at this exact time.”
And the gift in this encounter was that Jack’s response of “Wow, he’s doing well! I’m happy for him” wasn’t forced, it was simply his genuine, natural response.
As a result of letting this bitterness and resentment toward Garnet go, Jack felt he became a much more effective mentor and coach, and a much freer and even happier human being for the rest of his days.
Holding on to a past resentment can stifle your opportunity to live your best life.
Just as Jack was able to release his bitterness and resentment and replace it with feelings of well wishes toward someone he felt had betrayed him, so can you.
By following this simple forgiveness practice, you too can set yourself free from the painful stories of your past, and move forward with loving all aspects of your life and truly sharing your gifts with the world in a powerful and meaningful way.
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