Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know, I just wrote about this, but ya know, this is a big one. Why? Because, like I said in my previous post, it’s the path to personal freedom. Freedom from all kinds of shiz.
>Got false beliefs?
Got low self-esteem?
Got a lot of crazy negative thinking about yourself?
Is the everything-you’re-doing-wrong-committee meeting several times a day in your head?

If you answered yes to any of these questions and you wanna nip that shiz in the bud, I suggest you give forgiveness some serious consideration.

What does forgiveness have to do with negative thinking?

Well, where do you think we learned to think like that? As my mother would often say, “You didn’t lick that stuff up off the floor.”

I know for myself that I learned to think this way. I learned it from the people who hurt me. And holding on to resentments about those people just allows my own ego to maintain its grip on the negative self thoughts.

You can’t let go of the negative thinking and hold on to the resentments. Yup, resentments are sneaky that way.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got all of the above going on way more frequently than I care to admit. And this stuff in some ways has nothing to do anymore with the people that hurt me. But the people that hurt me are where a lot of the stinkin’ thinkin’ came from. You know, the totally effed up thoughts I have about myself and what I think I’m worth and what I think I’m capable of.

I have totally internalized all those messages, so even though many of those people are gone, or at least they don’t have the power in my life that they used to, the stuff they dealt out is still being played out in my head. And in my behaviors. In my whole freakin’ life, frankly.

And I’m not trying to point fingers here, claiming they started it. Not at all. I’m just trying to get to the heart of the matter.

If I want to get rid of all that negative shiz in my head, I really do have to go back to where it started. Not to point blame, but to let it go.

Letting that shiz go has to start with letting them go, too.

It has to start with forgiving them.

Yes, letting go means forgiving them. Not for them, but for me, for you. I, personally, would really like those messages to stop. And they won’t stop if I keep holding on to the resentments about what other people did to me or didn’t do for me, or how they did or didn’t treat me.

So from where I’m standing, as high and mighty as forgiveness might sound, it’s a purely practical matter.

In fact, in my world, forgiveness is actually quite selfish.

If forgiveness didn’t have such a powerful impact on how I show up with others in the world, I really would say it’s all about me.

Easier said than done, you say? I know exactly what you’re talking about. (Again, you can see my previous post for more details about that.)

Ready for another story? OK, this one’s about my ex-husband.

Oh man, did I have lots of anger around the way he treated me in our marriage, not to mention the things he did in the divorce! And, full disclosure, I still have work to do on this one, but I have come a helluva long way. Today, most days anyway, I do know that he is as much a child of the Universe as I am, and that he entered that marriage just as emotionally wounded as I did. And I know that I didn’t always make life easy for him either.

But that’s not where I started. I started from a place where he was just an evil, passive-aggressive, narcissist a**h***!

So, as you can see, I definitely had some ground to cover.

How have I made the progress that I made? I did a number of things, but for todays post, I’m going to talk about the first one.

In my Twelve Step programs I was told to pray for him. Don’t worry, this idea isn’t proprietary to the Twelve Steps. They borrowed it from other spiritual traditions, so if you’re not in a program, it’ll still work for you.

The thing, for me anyway, that was so powerful about praying for my ex-husband was that I was taught to ask that he be given everything I wanted for myself. I was also supposed to ask my Higher Power for his health, his prosperity, and his happiness.

Sound tough? It’s easier than you might think, because here’s the deal: you don’t have to mean it; you just have to say it. You just have to say it.

I know it doesn’t sound like it’ll help, but it will. Just do it and it will.

But there’s one caveat: you have to be specific. You can’t just say, “God/Higher Power/Universe/Great Spirit, please give John Doe everything I want for myself.” You have to specifically name what it is you want for yourself.

This may sound crazy, but being instructed to say this prayer was the first time I had ever seriously thought about what I really wanted for myself. I mean, in a meaningful way. I always thought that what I really wanted for myself was for the other person to stop being such a jerk.

Sorry, but praying for Mr. John D. to stop being a jerk for his own sake is NOT what’s called for here.

That would be praying for your own selfish ends by trying to go at it through the back door. I assure you, God’s totally on to your little trick there.

No, we’re talking about what you want for yourself in a global sense. Specific, but global. That means something that would be true in pretty much every time and place.

If John D. is no longer around, does it still matter what a jerk he is? Maybe, a little, but certainly not as much as if he were present.

To help you get my gist, here’s the prayer I came up with (and I’m sticking with the “John” theme to protect my ex’s anonymity):

God, I pray for “John.” Please grant him freedom from his fears and the achievement of his dreams. Please grant him love and acceptance. I ask for his health, his prosperity, and his happiness. Thy will be done. Amen.

Do you see the difference? No matter where I go or what I’m doing, I want freedom from my fears and the achievement of my dreams. I always want love and acceptance. So I ask that the person I resent be given those things. And in so doing, I’m not praying for my own selfish ends at all.

I use this prayer for everyone I resent. I just fill in a different name and change the gender of the pronouns as necessary.

Many spiritual practices suggest doing this for two weeks.

This one thing – praying for the person and asking that my Higher Power grant to the person I resented everything I wanted for myself – really helped with the negative thinking. And remember, I didn’t necessarily mean this prayer when I said it.

Sound amazing? Well, ponder this: whether you mean what you say or not, praying for someone is actually a performative act. Which means that the statement itself is an act, it brings something into being (like saying “I do” performs the act of marriage.) When you pray for someone to receive something, you are simultaneously establishing their worthiness of receiving it.

Still wondering what this has to do with negative thinking? Well then, ponder this: if, in saying this prayer, I just established that this person who has treated me so horribly was worthy of receiving the the things I so dearly wanted for myself, wouldn’t I also be worthy of receiving those things, too?

OMG, what’s that smashing sound?!!!

Oh, yeah, that would be the major blow your negative thinking about yourself just took.

So, what I’d like to know from you is, what exactly do you want for yourself? What things would you pray that the people you resent be given? Share them in the comments below. Ask it for others and you’ll start to believe you’re worthy of receiving it too!

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