Finding Forgiveness

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”


When I look up the word ‘forgive’ in the dictionary, the primary definition says “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.”

What’s interesting about that definition is that there’s no mention about forgiving being the act of admitting that what the other person did was okay – which is what most people think they’d be doing when forgiving someone.

People often think that forgiving someone else for hurting them is the same as saying that it was okay for the person to hurt them in the first place. This just isn’t true. This is a terrible misunderstanding of what forgiveness is.

When a person equates letting go of the hurt feeling with admitting that what happened was acceptable, they will refuse to forgive.

You may have heard the expression that staying angry and resentful at someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It’s true.

Holding anger and resentment toward another person does nothing to punish them. However, it does harm you. To be unforgiving is to continuously poison yourself.

From the perspective of biochemistry, this is literally true. Every emotion has its own unique biochemical recipe and Anger is a biochemical cocktail that, when sustained, harms the body.

The original event that caused you pain is in the past and cannot be changed. The wrong that was done to you cannot be undone.

The only moment you have is now and the only question that remains is, “Will you allow this pain from your past to poison your present and future?”

Are you willing to allow the person who hurt you to keep hurting you every time you think of them? Is that fair to you?

What if you could think of them and no longer feel the hurt? It would be like they could hurt you no more.

In fact, this is exactly what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is your freedom from the ongoing pain of something that happened in your past. You don’t forgive those who offended you for their sake, you forgive to heal yourself and to create space in your mind and heart for the possibility that people can change.

The word ‘forgive’, in its origin, is literally made from ‘for-’ and ‘give’. The prefix ‘for-’ means the same as ‘fore’ – meaning to come before. The word ‘give’ means to offer or transfer possession of something to another. We can interpret this to mean that, when you forgive, before you can feel better, you must transfer possession of your anger and resentment.

When you forgive, you give your anger and resentment back to Life in exchange for Peace. You let go.

Another dimension of forgiveness is to give up the condemnation and judgement you placed against the other person. However, just because you no longer condemn another person does not make what they did right.



You see, here it’s important to make the distinction between the person and their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are different.

Thinking, feeling, and acting are things that you DO.

YOU, however, are the one doing the thinking, feeling, and acting (behaving).

What you do is guided by your mindset. Your mindset is not you. However, we often use the phrase “Who I am” as an expressive way of referring to our mindset. This poetic way of speaking is the cause of some of our confusion.

Everything you do, you do in order to meet your physical and emotional needs. Your mindset (how your mind is set up to interpret situations) is what determines all of it.

Your mindset can change over time. The fact that you are ‘you’ never changes.


If someone did something horrible like torture and kill another person, they did so because they truly believed that somehow their lives would be better because of it. Maybe they did it out of revenge and wanted to know once and for all that this person who caused them so much pain could no longer harm them. Perhaps it gave them a feeling of being in control of their personal level of safety and maybe even their destiny.

Maybe they did it because they, being mentally ill, got high from controlling another human life. This is a pain-driven way of thinking and it comes from a place of deeply suppressed/repressed pain. We only seek control when we feel out of control. We only seek to control others when we fear they will control us.

Take note that the human being is not the offender but rather their mindset. This doesn’t mean that they are not responsible for their actions, they are. Insane or not, there are always consequences.

What this means is, if you believe a person IS their actions, then you believe they cannot change.

However, people are not the actions they take, they are the ones taking the action – and those actions are guided by their mindset; their way of thinking.

Thoughts can change.



When someone sees something they haven’t seen before, their perspective changes.

When their perspective changes, they cannot think the same way.

Same person, new thoughts.
New thoughts, new actions.

People who view other people AS their actions will say, “Wow, you’ve changed”.

The person hasn’t changed. Their way of thinking and doing has changed. They are still the same core-identity – they just have a new operating system.


This is why the biblical Jesus, after having been tortured, beaten, nailed to a cross, and left to die of exposure, looked down at the people standing below his cross and said, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He understood that the people condemning him were doing the very best they knew how to do given their current beliefs (mindset) at the time.

Jesus and other spiritual leaders did not preach torture and murder to their fellow men. They taught love, understanding, and compassion. This means that, when Jesus asked forgiveness for the people, he was not condemning them for what they had done while, at the same time, he was not saying that what they were doing, as an act, was “okay” either. The actions themselves were unacceptable but the people didn’t know any other way. If they knew a better way to fulfill their needs, they would have done that.

Jesus understood the difference between the unchanging living soul and the ever-growing, ever-evolving mind that guides it.



Right action comes with right thinking. We are all imprisoned by our own ignorance.

The key out of this prison and into a better life is a deeper understanding of Life.

We are all in this place called Life together doing what we know how to do in order to fulfill our needs.

We are limited by what we currently know. We are freed by what we are coming to know.

Our journey in Life is to move forward and continuously come to know more.

When we come to know more, we naturally think differently and fulfill our needs in new and better ways. Our mindset changes.


If you are able to understand this, you will be able to make the distinction between the conscious living soul you are, the body you inhabit, and your expressions through it.

You are, at every moment of your life, seeking to fulfill your needs the best way you know how in the moment.

In this moment you only know as much as you know. You need the next moment in order to know more. Once you know more, you can fulfill your needs differently in the moment that follows – and not before.


When someone does wrong by you, they are seeking to fulfill their needs at your expense. If they knew how to fulfill their needs without harming you, they would because, instinctively, it is better for one’s survival to have more friends than enemies.

Understanding this about people is much like understanding that not every one-year-old child is ready to walk. Every child learns to walk when all the required conditions are in place for them to do so – not before. The right conditions come together differently in different situations.

Condemning a baby and yelling at them for crawling when you think they should be walking is not fair to the baby because not all the conditions are in place yet for the baby to walk.

Most parents don’t yell at their babies for not walking yet because they know in their hearts that it will happen one day. It’s a process. It takes time for all the right elements to be collected and arranged into the conditions that allow for a walking child to be the natural next step. Learning happens at its own pace.


People who do wrong by others are like the babies learning to walk. If they already had everything they needed in order to be different, they’d be that way now. They’re still learning. They are doing what they have the knowledge to do. As they acquire more knowledge, they will do things differently.

When you know and accept that peoples’ mindsets are at different levels of growth, it makes it easier for you to release the poison of your long-held anger and resentment.

What they did was wrong. Who they are is not. Your forgiveness allows people the space to grow and evolve their own mindset.

We are all living souls making mistakes with pain as our teacher. We only need pain long enough to learn our lesson …and the essence of every Life lesson is the same: to learn to meet our needs in ways that don’t cause pain to ourselves or others.

Without pain, how would we know something is wrong?


Being forgiving is being willing to love Life as it is in this moment with all its pain and seeming dysfunction; knowing that we are all where we are at in this moment and we need the next moment in order to know more so that we can be different in the moment that follows. This moment, which we call the present, is a gift that can help the next moment to become better than the last.

Being unforgiving is being unwilling to accept Life as it is in this moment and expecting it to be different than it actually is. It is the state of holding on to the pain which a prior moment caused you and using that pain to create more pain in the next moment.

Rather than living WITH pain, being unforgiving is the state of living IN pain.


A person with a forgiving mindset sees pain as their teacher. Once the lesson is learned, there is no need for the teacher and so the person with the forgiving mindset lets go of the pain.

A person with an unforgiving mindset sees pain as a part of them. It’s part of their identity. This mindset sees no escape from self and so cannot escape the pain. This mindset does not see pain as something it can let go of without losing the self in the process. The fear of death is twisted up in this mindset.

An Unforgiving Mindset causes you to see pain as a part of you.

A Forgiving Mindset allows you to see pain as apart from you.


The pain of a past event will only last for as long as you allow it to affect your belief about yourself. If someone hurt you and it caused a part of you to believe that you are somehow less valuable as a result, the pain will stay. It wants you to know that your value as a beautiful living soul has not been reduced. Once you realize that you are no less beautiful and valuable, the pain will leave.


Decide ‘who you will become’ as a result of your painful experience. Remind yourself that what others did to you is not a statement about your value as a person. It was a demonstration of their ignorance; the result of their own immature mindset. Your value has never changed. You are precious to Life, for you are one of Life’s unique expressions.

Ask yourself, “How will I allow this experience to shape me?”.

Remember, it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s ‘who you become’ as a result of what happens to you that matters. ‘Who you become’ is your choice.

Do not give another person’s actions the power to determine ‘who you are‘ (your chosen mindset) or ‘who you will become‘ (the future mindset you will use to guide your actions).

Allow your pain to strengthen ‘you’ (your chosen mindset) and how valuable you choose to be to others. Refuse to live in pain. Don’t misunderstand pain’s purpose in your life. It is not there to punish you and convince you that you are less worthy. Accept that pain is your teacher showing you when the mindset you are using to guide your experience is off-track. Get back on track, thank the pain, and then let the pain go.

When you hang on to the pain of a past event, you have not yet decided ‘who you are becoming’ as a result. You are stopping yourself (your mindset) from growing stronger and keeping yourself from living a better life.

Give up your pain for a better tomorrow today and you’ll be a person who is drawn towards a much better future.

Be at Peace.

© 2014-2017 Trent Janisch –


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