One of the distinctions I created when I developed my new Roadmap to Success program that was a real eye opener for many was the importance of forgiveness. By the way, if you haven’t yet seen the preview of the new video program, please click on this link: http://www.unshackledleadership.com/free-success-video. Why is forgiveness so important if you want to be successful? Because it’s simply not possible to be truly successful if you’re carrying around any amount of anger or disappointment directed to another. Because this is so critical and important, I am here posting an article I wrote earlier in the year. The advice is as good today as it was when I first gave it to you.
Forgive everyone for everything, including yourself!
This is a tough one for most people, hopefully not you. But if this is an area you struggle with, consider the following: There is a forgiveness project at Stanford University. The results are disturbing but not surprising. People don’t want to forgive. They actually cherish their negativity. Kindness and being a nice human being doesn’t sell very well. People feel entitled to create enemies and somehow justify their right to do that. And people use their wounding to justify wounding others.
In my own life, my grandfather was a pretty tough guy. What motivated him I do not know. But what I do know is that when his son, my dad, turned 15, he told him that from that day on he was on his own and couldn’t expect anything further from him. So my dad quit school and went to work in the family plumbing business where he worked for the next 50 years. I’m clear he resented his father for that and never forgave him. So you would think he would never do that to his son. Right?
Guess again. When I turned 15 he tried to do the same with me. But I was a bit smarter because I saw it coming and was determined not to let him get away with it. Fortunately, my mother came to the rescue and that was the end of that. But I remember that like it was yesterday because it so demonstrates my point.
People just don’t look at life carefully enough and see the consequences of who they’re being. Here’s the reality: your grievances mean nothing. Do you think anyone cares about them except you? And how do you think the ugliness that might come out of your mouth reflects on you to others? Whenever I hear anyone I know bad mouthing someone else, I always ask myself what they might be saying about me behind my back!
Bottom line: do you want to be right or happy? People all too often think they get to be happy by being right. It doesn’t work that way. Those two choices are mutually exclusive. So forgiveness means you give up your need to be right in favor of happiness.
And consider that resentment and anger has a huge impact on your nervous system. Chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds. Blood pressure and heart rate go up. Facial muscles tense and stress hormones kick in. Chronic stress affects the immune and cardiovascular systems. Forgiveness reduces stress by replacing negative emotions with positive ones.
Finally, when we get angry, the blood is drained from the frontal cortex of the brain and we can’t even think straight. Just think about the last time you got angry. Don’t you remember how confused you were and couldn’t even think about what to say or do?
Not forgiving is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. So give yourself a gift: forgive everyone for everything, including yourself! Doing so will surely put you ahead on the road to success.