“Forgiveness is a thing that cleans the deck of our lives.”—Pat Mesiti
Most people find that the gravity of a mistake determines how soon or how long they can forgive. Oftentimes, a serious wrongdoing will remain not only in your memory, but also in your heart. But it is precisely this emotional attachment to a mistake that prevents you from moving on to a better life.
The Monkey Experiment
Bestselling author and life coach Pat Mesiti illustrates this concept of letting go with a story about how some scientists managed to capture a rare species of monkeys.
The scientists devised a trap using bottles with narrow necks that contained some nuts. As expected, the monkeys reached into the bottles to get the nuts but their clenched fists prevented them from withdrawing their hands, effectively trapping them. The monkeys’ refusal to let go kept them trapped. Similarly, humans who are unable to forgive refuse to let go of the past, preventing them from moving on to better things.
Clinging to a past mistake uses up so much of your energy when there is nothing you can do to change what has happened. Successful people also make mistakes but the difference lies in how they focus on the future, not on the past. Just remember:
“You cannot move forward while looking at the rear view mirror.”
You may find it hard to forgive because the memory of a past mistake can constantly refresh the pain and negativity that accompanied the wrongdoing or failure. While you may not forget things, it is possible to rise above a mistake or failure by choosing to forgive. Remembering the past may come from the mind, but forgiving the past must come from the heart. It may take some strength to forgive others, but it can only happen if you exercise that choice.
Forgiveness does not only apply to others who may have wronged you. If you have been in a rut for quite some time and can’t seem to get out of it, chances are that you are holding on to a personal failure and wallowing in bitterness, regret or self pity. Having gone through moments of bitterness as well, I assure you that it was in forgiving myself that I was able to truly move on. While I may not be able to erase my past, I chose to get up again and start a new direction on a clean slate.