Renewal in spring is so pervasive it would be difficult not to notice the changes surrounding us.

Flowers begin to bloom, leaves begin to bud, birds return to sing, the sun arrives earlier and lingers longer.

Spring-cleaning is a long-held tradition that comes naturally at this time of renewal as we shed the darkness and coldness of winter and embrace the bright colorful lightness of spring.

It is a time we usually clean closets, drapes, rugs, and garages. We get rid of things we no longer use and spiff up floors and windows. We renew our environment, our wardrobes and our gardens.

Spring is also a great time to do some ‘interior’ renewal as well.

As we spring-clean our environment it is an excellent time to ask ourselves if we could benefit from renewing our heart and mind.

Have we been clinging to thoughts, grudges, behaviors, habits or attitudes that we no longer want, that darken our lives or no longer serve us? If so, spring is a good time to get rid of them.

Frequently the secret to cleaning out these feelings is forgiveness. Just as we clean our windows to allow the beautiful light to shine though, we need to clean up an attitude of unforgiveness to allow in joy and light.

Without forgiveness we may find that no matter how daunting the task of cleaning our environment seems, it is far easier than renewing our heart and mind.

When we have been injured physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually we feel wounded, perhaps violated, certainly bruised. The pain of being harmed can dim the light we allow in and diminish our life in every way.

Forgiveness, while difficult, is necessary for healing.

Engage the spirit of springtime renewal and consider how you can forgive and release attitudes, feelings, habits and thoughts that do not make your life sparkle.

Consider who or what do you need to forgive:

Do you feel you need to forgive family, friends, colleagues, institutions, God, life disappointments or yourself?

Really give serious thought to the ‘who’, and/or the ‘what’, of your long held unforgiveness.

Release the Myths of Forgiveness

At times our ability to forgive can be impaired by our mistaken beliefs that forgiveness excuses the offense or makes it seem as though the wrong did not occur. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

· Forgiveness is not amnesia. It is not forgetting the offense.

· It is not releasing the offender from their responsibility.

· It does not magically make everything ‘the way it was’

· It does not eliminate our feelings

· It can not be accomplished on demand or whim

We can never pretend the injury did not happen and while the pain will dissipate we will remember the harm inflicted.

The offender is responsible for his/her actions and should always be held accountable.

Feel the pain

There is no way around it. No one likes this step but we cannot move forward without it.

We cannot avoid, deny, or numb the pain away. There is no way around it (and we have certainly all tried)…only through it.

Denial postpones, denial does not heal or eliminate. We cannot deny reality.

Acknowledge who or what harmed you; acknowledge the loss you have suffered or hurt that was inflicted.

Commit to yourself

Your biggest commitment should be to your wellbeing and renewal.

Don’t waste time on revenge; instead use that same time and ingenuity to invest in your own happiness and health (rather than destroying someone else’s – no matter how much you think they may deserve it).

Commit to strategies that will move you toward the life you want and away from your unhappiness.

Forgive yourself

Forgiving our self is often the most difficult, but important aspect of forgiveness.

Frequently we add insult to the injury by self-blame, self-chastisement and ‘should-ing’ on our self.

Try being your best friend rather than acting as your harshest critic. Show yourself consideration; you are not to blame for someone else’s behavior.

Look for unintended good

Look for the lesson, the Grace, the meaning in your experience. Finding meaning renews you.

The experience of being harmed has changed you, but you can choose to have it change you for the better. Let it renew and enhance you rather than diminish you.

Holding grudges and negativity can be corrosive. Forgiveness is good for your health and wellbeing.

Make this a spring of both interior and exterior renewal and embrace the beauty of the season.