Culturally, we are angry. We blame others for the condition of our lives. If we are stressed, it’s because someone or something has “done us wrong”- one of our friends, someone in our family, or the situation at work or home. We look outward to find a reason for the way we feel, for the way our life is going.
Although we innately know that happiness can only be generated from within, we live in a culture where outward appearances and expression are prized and valued. We “have a right” to say and do as we please and we are proud of that right. Yet when our actions yield less than positive results, we are quick to disown those actions, misplacing our internal distress upon outside influences. Rather than admit that we have made a mistake, we rationalize and justify our actions until we can believe the illusion that the consequences are not our responsibility.
However, over time, our sense of self is betrayed by this ongoing game of delusion. Feeling depressed if the betrayal is turned inward, or anger if it is turned outward, we lose control by losing sight of out internal voice. We spend an inordinate amount of time ruminating about the negativity in our lives, and this deepens feelings of anger, self-doubt and fear, leading to a feeling of helplessness and lack of control.
One of the greatest and most difficult lessons to be learned in life is forgiveness. Learning to forgive is an integral part of living a life that may be filled with happiness. Until we can forgive, ourselves and others, we will continue to harbor a negative force that destroys our inner peace and causes our life to be out of balance.
Forgiveness not only acknowledges the fallibility of our actions, and those of others, but allows us to move onward, to be in the present and not in the past. In forgiveness comes the realization that all beings suffer, that all beings seek happiness, and that we are each responsible for our own actions and reactions to life’s events.
No one drives you crazy or makes you unhappy. You do that to yourself. By looking inward and listening to your inner voice, you begin the process of finding your way. By learning to forgive whoever has caused you harm, yourself or others, you regain a sense of control over the negative influences in your life.
- from Fall 1999's Atma Center publication To Your Health