Forgiveness is logical. It isn't something that you should do. It is a practice that makes sense. When you forgive you improve your well-being and influence others to improve theirs. When you forgive you empower yourself. Forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself and to the world.

To forgive is to let go. It is a practice by which you release all hurt, anger, bitterness, disappointment, and resentment. By releasing these negative states you feel better, stronger, and more in control of yourself. True forgiveness is so complete that it is as if nothing were ever done that needed forgiving.

For most of us the idea of completely letting go seems wrong. Shouldn't others pay for their mistakes? Shouldn't I pay for my mistakes? Let's answer the question with another question. Does holding a grudge make life better for you or for anyone else? Does feeling guilty over your past make you a better person? In my experience, the answer is no.

For many years I felt guilty for mistakes I made in raising my children. My guilt did nothing to help my grown-up children be happy. It actually prevented me from being a good father. Thinking I didn't deserve the title of "Dad," I held back, and made myself unable to completely be the example they needed. When I forgave myself, I did it for them as much as for myself. My unforgiveness was just another way of being self-absorbed. Being self-absorbed, I couldn't see their needs. As adults, they need me to be whole and supportive, not someone who shrinks in guilt.

We are each completely responsible for our lives. This means that no one is to blame for our respective lives. Whenever I blame someone, I disempower myself. I make myself a victim. As a victim I am a center of attention, focused on what others are doing to me or on what they should be doing for me. This is a stressful way to live, since I do not control what others think or do. Whenever I find myself playing the victim, it's time to forgive, and to remind myself that I am the creator of my life.

As the creator of my life I am a center of influence. As a center of influence I recognize that everything I think, feel, say, and do has a ripple effect. I have impact. When I am in a conflict with someone, as a center of influence, I ask myself what effect I had on them. I ask myself what the other person needs from me. This makes me powerful. If someone is not being loving to me, I become more loving to them.

Being the parent of a teenager (in addition to my adult children), I need to forgive every day. My fourteen year-old can be curt and seemingly disrespectful. There are times when I need to correct inappropriate behaviors. She needs more than correction. If I only correct her, our relationship will suffer. She will see me as the one who always corrects her, and herself as the one who is always doing something wrong. My corrections must come from a place of forgiveness, understanding that she is learning, growing, and becoming the beautiful and intelligent woman she is meant to be.

I forgive, not because she needs forgiveness, but because I need to forgive to be a good father. Her words and actions do not define her. She is deeper than that, and I need to be able to see that incredible soul. To help me see her and to help her see herself, I write her a love note every night. She reads them before she goes to bed. No matter what has happened that day, I write about the good and the great that I see in her. I have influence and I am using it for good. Forgiveness helps me to be a mirror for her--a mirror for all that is wonderful and beautiful and amazing about her.

Your opinion of someone is your vision for that person. If you are unforgiving, you will see them and treat them as unworthy of your respect or love. You will influence them to behave in ways that are fearful. If you can hold a positive vision of a person, you will influence them to step up and be the person you envision. This isn't about hoping someone will turn out all right. It is about believing in them.

A refusal to forgive is a refusal to recognize that you have impact, that you influence the behavior of others. A refusal to forgive yourself is an unwillingness to stop being self-absorbed and start seeing others in terms of their needs. Unforgiveness of any kind is center-of-attention thinking. It hurts you, and your relationships. Forgiveness frees you to love others, to support them, and to influence them in positive ways. Forgiveness heals you of the effects of negative emotion, and your healing helps the people around you to heal as well.

Author's Bio: 

William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive coach and the author of four books, including The Road Home: The Journey Beyond the Spiritual Quick Fix. For more information on Bill's work, go to http:/