Recently, after one of my motivational speeches in Nebraska, a 52 year-old woman came up to me and asked a very pointed question: “How do I forgive?” A very good question indeed. It had been the topic of my keynote speech. To forgive is sometimes the hardest thing on Earth to do. It takes real strength of spirit. When we are able to though, the blessings of forgiveness become immediately apparent.
This hurting lady — we’ll call her Susan — said she’d been consumed by bitterness for years, and that she’d passed this bitterness on to her children. Hatred, anger, and resentment are like that. When we hold onto them, they poison us. And when we’re poisoned, it is easy to poison others. Resentment is like a weed, and it sends its roots deep into our psyches and our souls. The longer we hold onto these grudges and hatreds, the deeper the weeds go, and they become increasingly difficult to uproot.
Psychologically, forgiveness can be tricky. Who really knows what mental processes are involved in letting go of a grudge, or anger or hatred? Forgiveness is a process, but to succeed you have to first want to forgive—to really want it. That is the most essential element. We often give lip service to the value of forgiveness and to our own desire to forgive. Yet there is frequently something deep inside us that gets a kind of charge from holding on to our anger. Sometimes, we get addicted to the energizing force of hatred.
Watch this video and see how my life was saved and how I transformed out of the foster care system. As a motivational speaker, if I can save a life and bring a higher level of consciousness to our youth, I know it will help their sons, daughters and future generations to come. In the end, it takes one person to believe that they have a purpose and to know that their best days are still ahead of them. My inspirational message is all about helping others that are lost in the darkness… find a little hope… and give them the strength and tools to never let a weakness destroy their greatness.
It’s easy to say to someone they should be forgiving. Yet because the actual process of forgiveness is mysterious and not well understood, my recommended method is more practical. It stems from the therapeutic methods of behavioral psychology. It has to do with language. Just as our thoughts give rise to words, words can in turn influence our thoughts. We consciously construct and understand the world through language, and language has the power to reform our perceptions, emotions, and opinions. Words, in short, create your reality.
When our true aim is to forgive, and rid ourselves of the toxic influence of resentment, it helps to pay attention to our words. Consider and take note of the words that fill your mind, especially when in the grip of anger or bitterness. What quality do the words have? Are they words of negativity, pessimism, and malice? If so, put a mental “red flag” on these words. Each time these dark and malignant words arise in your thoughts, take note of how the language itself directs, amplifies, and affects your mood. Notice how these angry words carry your consciousness along, as if on a river of bad tidings.
To forgive, one must transform the habits of the mind. Often our thoughts become like rutted channels, and our minds continually run down the same path. Each time we run down that path, the rut gets deeper. You can actually “rewire” your brain, so to speak, and the chain of firing neurons, by consciously reconstructing the pathways. And language is the tool to lay these new routes. Use words of faith, hope, love, gratitude, charity and compassion. Dispense with words of hatred and anger. Believe me, you will see results far sooner than you think. Your life, and the lives of those affected by your negativity, will immediately improve.
Derek Clark is a popular conference keynote speaker and foster care expert who delivers inspiring motivational speeches. Derek’s story of abandonment, rejection, abuse, resilience and redemption has inspired audiences all over the world. He grew up in the foster care system for over 13 years and yet, he never gave up. Derek has 4 amazing children and has been married to the love of his life for 21 years. He is the author of six inspiring professional and personal development books. To hire motivational speaker Derek Clark for your next event, please contact him at www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com