Have you ever had the experience of becoming intensely fearful about something or angry at someone and afterwards wondered where the heck did that feeling come from? Most anger and fear is based on past experiences. The past gets projected onto the present and future, and we see the world, others, and ourselves through a distorted lens of pain, fear and other old emotions. It is our memory of fear and pain that makes us feel so vulnerable and unsafe. And it is this feeling of vulnerability that makes us want to control and predict and protect ourselves at all costs. Rather than see the situation clearly, free from past associations, we misperceive, we make assumptions, and we react from that hurt and fearful part of ourselves.
What keeps us from truly knowing inner peace? The answer is simpler than you would think; when we hold on to anger and when we are unable to let go of fear, we obstruct ourselves from experiencing peace and well-being.
There is a wonderful little book, Love is Letting Go of Fear, based on a wonderful larger book, A Course in Miracles, which teaches lessons for peace and happiness. According to the Course, the key to personal transformation rests on the foundation of forgiveness and love. Below are some of the main points, mostly things we already know but tend to forget. These words have always been important reminders for me—may they also help you to remember how to live from love.
Make peace of mind your single goal, and forgiveness your most important means to reach that goal.
Forgiveness is the letting go of the past; letting go of whatever you think other people have done to you, or whatever you think you have done to them. Forgiveness means correcting your misperception that the other person harmed you, that the world is unsafe, and that you need to defend or attack back.
What you believe is what you see, and what you see is what you get. You can choose what thoughts you want to have in your mind. You can choose to see the world as hostile or friendly. And you can choose to see others as extending love, or being fearful and calling for help in the form of love. This requires a shift in perception, but you do have a choice in what you perceive. You can change how you perceive the world, how you perceive others, and how you perceive yourself.
Let go of needing to be right or needing to change the other person. Rather than finding fault, choose to see the good and beauty in yourself and in others. Practice forgiveness and non-judgment, looking beyond the small fragment that is “weak” or “bad” in order to see the greater good in the whole person. Give your full love and acceptance to others without conditions or expectations. Remember to do the same for yourself. Thoughts and words are powerful and what you believe and express is essential. Ask yourself, is this communication or action loving to the other person and is it loving to me?
You can continue to think and act based on your ego and the past or you can make a conscious decision every day to think and act based on Love. The world’s distorted message is that you have to get other people’s love before you can feel love within. The truth is, that you are love, and that as you give love to others you teach yourself what you are.
When you practice giving love and forgiveness in this way, inner peace is your gift in return.