“What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you, and more. “
~ A Course in Miracles
Sometime back, I decided that is was time to do a little forgiveness work. I think it all started when I was having a rough couple weeks at the start of the school year. It was then that I looked to meditation to help me through that stressful process.
In my work, both with clients and with students, I often see people holding on to grudges and beliefs. They’re just not forgiving. And more often than not, this inability to move on or give forgiveness can manifest in the most unexpected of ways.
It could show up as feeling unworthy…of love, success, happiness, money, a beautiful place to live, a good job, you name it. It can also show up in how we interact with and treat others.
In kids that can present as someone that’s sarcastic, the class clown (often at the cost of others), the class bully or even depression or self-deprecation. As adults it can look similar to young kids – sarcasm, humor at the expense of others, bitchiness, self-depreciation – along with some more extreme or addictive personalities as we look to punish ourselves.
For me, I noticed that I was allowing my inner miss meanie pants to come out a little too often and I seemed to willingly give her a soap box and a microphone to spew her nastiness and grow my self-doubt. And quite frequently, I let her party on.
But at the same time, I also realized that this didn’t feel right.
Having worked through some forgiveness issues in the past (got to love young love – LOL) I thought I’d focus on 30 days of forgiveness and letting go.
Now I won’t say I was consistent or practiced forgiveness each and every day (which was one of the reasons why I actually extended things to about 45 days), but this entire process was always in my thoughts.
My intention was to set aside some time each night before bed to focus on one person (and usually a particular experience with that one person) from my past and to practice forgiveness. Which for me meant just repeating “I forgive him/her for doing whatevertheydid. I know that he/she was doing the best that he/she could with what he/she had.”
And each night, I noticed the same thing…a sense of peace and calm would come over me and then I’d pretty much fall into a deep and very restful sleep.
Some nights I was able to forgive a couple people. Other nights I was really focused on one particular person. And usually, when dealing with family, I could spend days on our combined junk.
But by far, the most interesting thing I discovered was that each night, in the end, I spent more time forgiving myself than forgiving others.
Yes, each and every time (even when going way back to my early childhood and forgiving my mom for dying and leaving), I realized that I really needed to forgive myself. There really wasn’t any point in forgiving her for “leaving” if I couldn’t forgive myself for being confused about the entire process (I was only about 6 or so at the time).
You see, I had a choice to make. And like many things in life, forgiveness is a choice.
As Richard Bach explains it, “If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”
And I wasn’t about to play the role of victim. No way. No how. Nuh uh.
So instead, I chose to not only forgive those that harmed me (whatever that may have looked like to the child I was and the adult I am), but to also forgive myself for how I reacted. You see, I was just doing the best that I could in that situation. This was especially true when working on those family challenges I mentioned earlier.
The entire process was very rewarding. I feel much better know about some of my family stuff (my mother’s death included) and I’m feeling much more confident and self-assured.
And a pleasant side effect that I noticed…I’m able to fully and happily accept a compliment. There’s no longer any need to explain why that compliment wasn’t necessary or to question the giver’s sincerity or honesty. I can willingly just receive.
Where that came from I really don’t know. But I do know that it came about after I started working on forgiveness for a couple weeks. And the happy coincidences don’t stop there…new friends, unexpected income, more loving relationship with my husband, etc.
So worth it.
To help you to work through your own challenges and practice your own acts of forgiveness, here are some suggestions to get you started…
Write a letter to the person you’d like to forgive. Say everything you never got around to telling them. And then burn it, shred it, rip it up. Destroy it and release it in a way that feels comfortable to you.
Use guided meditation to walk you through the process of forgiveness (and/or cord cutting). I have some resources to help you out that can be found HERE.
Practicing telling that person that you forgive them (“I forgive and release you.”). You don’t need to worry about believing it right from the start, just make a practice of saying it….repeatedly.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught back up in the drama. This isn’t about reliving any pain or horrible personal experiences. You’re not processing anything, you’re merely acknowledging that some stuff happened and you’re letting it go.
Remember that this is all about simplicity and ease…and release. It’s about releasing the hold that someone has over you and releasing yourself from playing the victim.
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”