Letting Go Of The Past (Part D)

by Patrick Liew on August 2, 2011

The strange story that I am about to share with you happened during one of my leadership classes for community leaders.

This class was conducted as a part of HSR’s Corporate Social Missions. The participants came from different countries, including India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, and Singapore.

 There were many outstanding leaders in this batch, one of whom – an elderly gentleman – stood out from the rest.

At the start of the class, I had asked him, “How many members are there in your organisation?”

I almost fell off the chair when he responded, “Not many, only about 40,000 people.”

I felt really small.

I felt unqualified to train someone who probably knew more about leadership than me. I was sure he had achieved much more in life too.

Fortunately, I have a secret weapon.

Years ago, I realized if I were to be given the honour and privilege to speak in public, I will speak from my heart. That’s one of the ways to touch the participants’ hearts.

More importantly, I asked our Creator to download information – realtime – to my heart.

You may not believe me. There were many occasions when I felt He was putting words in my heart – and sometimes bits and pieces of information as I spoke.

I was only the mouthpiece to relay the message.

It happened during this particular class.

Right in the middle of the lesson, I sensed our Creator telling me to stop. I did.

An awkward silence followed. All eyes were upon me.

The participants expected me to finish the lesson. But it didn’t happen.

I felt our Creator asking me to share about one of the soul-searching phases of my life. And it had nothing to do with the lesson.

In 1972, I had asked our Creator for a blanket approval to be forgiven. He forgave me.

Since then, He has forgiven me again and again for many wrongdoings.

It was years later that I realized while our Creator has been loving enough to forgive me – I had not completely forgiven myself.

There was a period in my life when I had to ask myself for forgiveness. I have to forgive myself for each and every single thing that I have done wrong in my life.

It became one of the most enlightening experiences in my life.

Let me share with you step by step what I did. I hope it will inspire you to forgive and be at peace with yourself.

Step 1: Put On Record (For My Eyes Only)

I recorded what I have and haven’t done that are wrong.

I also wrote about forgiving myself in a diary, scraps of paper, letters to friends, and many other medium.

I also shared about my wrongdoings with some friends. By the way, I chose people who are wise enough to help me through the process of forgiving myself.

Step 2: Take Full Responsibility

I did not give excuses, blame others, or justify for the wrongdoings. I took full responsibility for them.

Step 3: Be Mindful Of Negative Results

It was painful to craft the harm and the hurt I have caused others and myself. I asked for forgiveness from our Creator and from myself.

Step 4: Restore The Situation

I was a firm believer that in the process of forgiving myself, I might have to restore the situation. It could be repairing and reestablishing a broken relationship.

Step 5: Reengineer My Life

At the same time, I prayed and made a commitment to change my attitude, knowledge, behavior, and lifestyle.

I aimed to stop condemning myself. I did not want to carry any false guilt, e.g., “I’m a bad person.”

I replaced my negative self-talk.

I started to adopt positive affirmations, e.g., “Our Creator and my loved ones have not given up on me. They are supporting me to achieve success. I am still learning and have the potential to be a better person.”

Step 6: Pay Restitution

There were times when I felt a need to offer compensation to an aggrieved party. When that was not possible, I might implement other forms of restitution.

For example, there was a negative thing that I did. I could not restore what I have done and even though it did not hurt anybody, I donated $11,000 to the Community Chest Of Singapore.

I donated the sum of money in the name of a company to which I owed a favour. It was a lot of money to me.

Step 7: Reinforce The Changes

I shared about the blessing of self-forgiveness to many people. It helped to reinforce what I have learned through the experience.

While I was doing that, the class was very moved. In particular, the elderly gentleman was almost in tears.

At the end of the course, he came up to me. It was hard to explain but his face seemed to have brightened up even though he was in tears.

I could never forget his words, “If there is any reason why God wanted me to come all the way from my country to Singapore, it was to hear this story. I need to forgive myself.”

I have continued to forgive myself.

I realized that it liberated me to fully enjoy my life. It also helped me to forgive others.

When I forgave myself, I realized how good it felt. As I anchored this feeling, it gave me the added motivation to forgive others.

By forgiving myself, it helped me to have more sympathy and empathy for my offenders. That made it easier to forgive them.

As a result of benefiting from self-forgiveness, I am more inspired to forgive others.

Forgiving myself helped me to also have a more forgiving spirit.

If our Creator and so many other people can forgive me, how can I not forgive others?

Will you forgive yourself?

Will you forgive others?


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