How you can forgive Yourself and Other People

““The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections

One of the biggest issues we have, at work, in our social interactions and personal lives, it the ability to forgive and move on. Too often, people bring up issues and commentary about people that is generally conjecture and opinioned. We also individually beat ourselves up constantly when we fail to do something; when we fail to achieve a goal;, when we have failed in our own personal expectations or when we believe we have failed to meet someone else’s perceived  expectations.

Part of living a balanced life, I think, is the ability to forgive. Not necessarily forget, but our ability to forgive ourselves and others for a perceived transgression. For some people, forgiveness is a foreign land, never to be visited, shunned and avoided. They carry the hurt and issues like a snail carries its shell, permanent and unyielding. What then tends to happen is that the hurt and issues become so embedded, that they affect how the person thinks and feels and acts. More negative, less trusting, quicker to anger, quicker to resent, etc, etc. You may agree, or you may not.

I have always sought to forgive and move on. At times it has been difficult, but since taking up mindfulness, there is one of the meditations that is taught in the eight-week Mindfulness Stress Reduction program, the Befriending Meditation, that can really help you.

It is also known as the Forgiveness meditation. This is one of THE most powerful practices available. Having practiced it regularly, I can feel the difference in my normal day-2-day activities and the engagement that I have with people. I am less self-critical; more open; honest; forgiving and engaging. People have reacted to the change in me, by becoming more open, honest and engaging themselves. At work, when an issue arises, rather than seek to do the “blame game” on someone, I seek to understand what the issues was, what caused it and how to prevent it in the future. People feel more trusted and self-aware of their actions. In fact, the number of issues has fallen as a result.

So what is the Befriending Meditation? This is focused on helping you‘… bring kindness back into your life – kindness not just for others but for yourself too.’ This is where you are guided through the concept of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Once you have started to move along that path, you extend it to your loved ones, your family, etc.

The meditation focuses on these three key phrases as a gateway into a deep sense of  friendliness towards yourself:

May I be safe and free from suffering

May I be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May I have ease of being

It is about repeating these slowly and silently in your mind. The analogy is further extended by imagining dropping a pebble down a deep well and listening for the ‘sound’ as it hits the water.  Being aware of any thoughts. Feelings. Or physical body sensations.

You are then encouraged to extend the phrase to holding a person, or even a pet, in mind who in the present or past loved you unconditionally. At this point, I think of our dogs and specifically Mitzie. She is always running up to me and giving me licks and showing complete unconditional love, even when there is no food involved!  Though if there is food, she goes nuts.

You are then asked to repeat the phrases while holding a loved one in mind and wishing them well.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Next a stranger or someone you see regularly, perhaps on a bus, or at work, but you didn’t know their name.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Next, and this is where is can become harder, extend to someone whom you have found difficult at the moment. Perhaps a member of the family or someone at work. For a lot of people, it is very difficult to remain calm, but with this practices, it leads you to it slowly and you feel in control.

May they be safe and free from suffering

May they be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May they have ease of being

Finally, to close you extend loving kindness to all living beings on the planet, including yourself. That is the rhythm and approach. I would suggest you give it a try. It is amazing what you might feel.

May all be safe and free from suffering

May all be as happy and as healthy as it is possible to be

May all have ease of being

If you have specific ways that you practice or ways you have developed, feel free to share.

The specific Befriending Meditation for you to listen to, can be found at:


I leave you with the following quote:

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

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