Are you hard on yourself and find it difficult to forgive yourself for past mistakes? If so, you may be under the influence of the Regret Thought Demon—that malevolent thought voice that torments you about what you “should have and could have done.” The good news is that there is an antidote to regret and self-attack. It is called “Forgiveness”—the final secret of happiness—as discussed on our latest episode of Love University. Here is some of the wisdom that we learned from the sage, Master Tanaka, on the ultimate lesson of self-liberation known as Forgiveness:
*Forgive others for harms done to you. Forgive others even if they don’t deserve or merit your forgiveness. You forgive because you deserve to experience the true joy and incredible feeling of wiping your slate clean. When you forgive others, you erase the pain of the past and fill your mind with love and compassion. Remember: The world doesn’t owe you anything. You owe the world your forgiveness. Instead of being mired in your own “poor me” mindset (“How could they do that to me?”), realize that forgiveness is your ultimate weapon against those who hurt you. When you forgive them, you have taken away the only things they can hold you with: Anger, resentment, and hate.
*Banish Regret: Forgive yourself for real or imagined errors. For many people, it is harder to forgive themselves than it is to forgive others. They are hard on themselves, self-critical, thinking: “Why did I stay in that relationship so long (or leave too early?”). “Why did I stay in that unfulfilling career instead of choosing work that would utilize my talents and bring me joy?” An important key to happiness is to eliminate regret from your mind and forgive yourself for your real or imagined errors. When you do that, you can be self-loving and have a clear mind to make the right decisions.
*Self-Forgiveness Exercise: As the pompous psychiatrist, Harry, learned in the Three Secrets of Happiness story, you can also practice self-forgiveness and liberate your mind from the pain of the past. Try this exercise: Imagine a time when you believe you made a big mistake. Perhaps, you lost a love relationship because of actions you took, and you still feel great regret and pain as a result. Now visualize that your Older You, the way you are right now, is saying to your Younger You, “I forgive you,” softly, gently, and lovingly. Imagine that the two Yous are hugging each other to the rhythms of forgiveness—bringing your past and present selves together at one moment in time. Experience this feeling of self-compassion and unity, as the two Yous support and care for each other. Do this exercise, and you will feel lighter and more at peace. You will experience the greatest gift of all: Love.
If you’ve been listening to our 3 Secrets of Happiness series on Love University, you know the ultimate recipe for lasting joy: Gratitude, Joyful Optimism, and Forgiveness (self-forgiveness). Gratitude is the gift of present appreciation for what you have now. Joyful Optimism is looking for the best in your future. And, forgiveness is what liberates you from the thought chains of the past. The great news is that these secrets are already within you. They are not dependent on money, status, career, or other people. They are your inheritance as a creation of the Higher Nature. Now go out and enjoy the 3 Secrets of forever joy and teach them to others. When you do this, you will reach your greatest potential and claim your deepest joy.