Tyler Perry’s Lesson in Forgiveness and Abundance

Terry Gross interviewed Tyler Perry on Fresh Air a few weeks ago. I almost changed the station since I didn’t have a strong connection with Tyler other than knowing that he put his name on all of his movies and – to be quite honest – imagining that he must be fairly egotistical to do that.

But something about their conversation hooked me and I listened to it all. It turns out that Tyler is an incredibly articulate and thoughtful person and he shared a story that beautifully expresses the connection between our inner and outer worlds.

You’ve likely heard the phrase “get the inside right and the outside will follow.” The idea is that our inner landscape is reflected in the world we see around us. So if we want to change the outer world we need to begin by changing our inner world. The story Tyler shared is one of the most powerful examples of that concept that I have heard.

Tyler launched his career in 1993 with a stage show that he self financed. It bombed! He lost everything. Fortunately someone in the audience loved the show so much they invested in him so he could do it again. Next time… it bombed again. Over and over he showed up and over and over again the performance tanked.

Then, in 1998, it became a huge hit, an “overnight success,” selling out multiple shows.

What happened? What was different?

On the outside, nothing was different. He had made minor changes to the script but nothing big enough to explain the difference.

Could it have just been persistence? Or, who knows… maybe something shifted in his astrological chart that opened the way to success!


But there was another factor at work. During those 6-years of “failure” Tyler had been working on his inner world.

The show was about the power of faith in overcoming old wounds including child abuse. It was based on Tyler’s own experience growing up with an abusive father. But even though there was forgiveness and redemption in the play, during those first few years, Tyler had not found that forgiveness in his own life.

Here’s a quote from Tyler:

“I think that’s why the show wasn’t doing well up until ’98, because I hadn’t forgiven [my father] up until that time. There was so much anger and frustration, and I was self-sabotaging so many things without even knowing it because I hadn’t let that go. But once I learned that, [I was] free to go on.”

Tyler goes on to say,

“It’s simple: when you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.”

From 1993 – 1998 Tyler had been producing that show with anger, resentment and hatred in his body, mind, heart and soul. The results of the show reflected his inner world. But as soon as he found his way to a place of forgiveness the energy of peace and love from within fueled the success of the show in the outer world.

Now, it’s safe to say that the forgiveness Tyler Perry found has fueled a lot more success. His movies, books and plays have touched the lives of millions of people. Using humor and caricatures he has addressed themes that are often difficult but important for us to look at.

And his work has also become a source of great personal abundance as well with Tyler now one of the highest paid people in the entertainment industry.

Tyler did the work to “get the inside right” and the outside certainly followed.

Where in your life are you feeling stuck? If there is something in your outer world that seems difficult or frustrating or challenging it may be time to shift your focus from the external experience and put some attention on your inner world.

Perhaps if you get the inside right the outside will follow easily and gracefully.

I’d love to hear your stories about the times when you have gotten the inside right and watched the outside follow.

Leave a comment below!

4 responses to “Tyler Perry’s Lesson in Forgiveness and Abundance”

  1. Ed,

    Great blog post, and a great topic. So much, so I feel compelled to share my personal story of change from the inside here in this forum.

    27 years ago my 21 year old brother was murdered trying to stop a robbery. It took me many, many years and innumerable therapy sessions to find the personal peace I was looking for. So, when you wrote about getting the inside right and watching the outside follow, it resonated deeply. For me, the change on the inside came in the form of reconciling my feelings with this violent, life-altering event and arriving at a place of forgiveness.

    Over the years I slowly realized that forgiveness is not about forgiving the person responsible for causing the hurt or harm, but rather it is using the wisdom and perspective gained from the experience and taking steps to release the pain and energy associated with it.

    I finally arrived at a place where I made a commitment to myself to do whatever I had to do to feel better on the inside. I learned that forgiveness is a personal thing, and not for anyone else. I also realized that the journey becomes
    remarkably easier when you give up expecting things from other people, or your life. I was struck with how dramatically my attitude toward the person who murdered my brother has changed and transformed through the passing of time. I
    noticed that I have moved from feelings of deep anguish, rage, revenge and retribution to compassion, forgiveness and loving-kindness. I now believe that forgiveness is the only way. It is no longer my concern as to whether or not
    the perpetrator is ready to be forgiven; instead I learned about healing, knowing with confidence that it has helped me mend my heart.

    Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning their actions. What I sought was personal peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you, taking life experiences less personally, and changing your grievance story.”

    Forgiveness is in no way endorsing what happened as being okay, because with as much pain, anguish and heartache the murder of my brother caused me and the members of my family it is not okay. Forgiveness is not about making
    bad behavior is okay, instead forgiveness is a feeling or a thought that rises up inside of you and says, “I’m ready! I’m ready right now in this moment in my life to let go of what happened because there is something in me that wants to
    go on.”

    Personally, I arrived at a point where I was not willing to let my brother’s murder (or the person who murdered him) rule my life anymore, not for one more second, because I didn’t want the energy from my personal tragedy to infect my present or my future anymore.

    While my brother’s murderer was apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison, I found that I had built my own prison and essentially issued myself a life sentence. The ways in which we hold ourselves “prisoners of our
    thoughts” are well documented in the work of many who explore the landscape of our psycho-spiritual lives. Deepak Chopra states “We erect and build a prison, and the tragedy is that we cannot even see the walls of
    this prison.” It is through our own search for meaning that we are able to reshape our patterns of thinking, ‘unfreeze’ ourselves from our limited perspective, find the key, and unlock the door of our metaphorical prison cell.”

    I have learned that forgiveness is remembering that we all possess the “vision” to see that every person, everything, is an extension of a perfect, loving Spirit―holy and sinless. And because there is no “sin” to be forgiven, forgiving is simply loving everyone and everything unconditionally. By contrast, an unforgiving attitude or judgment sees nothing of the Spirit each of us is, but condemns and rejects based on what they look like or, how they perform or, in the case of the man who murdered by brother, how he behaved. While a forgiving attitude does not ignore these things, it never blames, condemns or rejects anyone, even when actions result in pain. And a person who has learned to forgive himself is able to face up to his errors honestly, and correct them, because he never for even an instant feels rejected by a loving Spirit.

    That is my story of how change on the inside affects the outside.

    Peace and Blessings,


    • Wow, Chris. Thank you! I’ve heard your story before but there is something new in this sharing… a deeper embodiment of the forgiveness. Perhaps it is the piece that you just sort of slid in there about it not being your concern about whether he is ready to receive your forgiveness or not. You didn’t make a big deal out of that but it is a huge part of forgiveness… being willing to forgive even if the person you are forgiving isn’t ready to be forgiven. That’s not your responsibility.

      Thank you my friend for your eloquence and vulnerability. It’s been an honor to watch you deepen into this gift that you offer to all of us!

  2. Tyler Perry deserves LOTS of APPLAUSE for going through what he did as a child and then using that energy to create movies and television shows. What a Genius!

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