My heart has been leading me to talk about forgiveness for quite some time. But I think if I would have done it before, I would have missed this important tidbit I learned just last week. Even after we have forgiven someone when we continue to say, “that person cheated on me” or we say, “that person left me” we are not letting that person off the hook. Although those may both be accurate descriptions of what happened, we need to get to a place of peace about the situation. As long as we hold onto that feeling of resentment in our hearts, we are blocking love from coming in. And I’m not just talking about romantic love. According to a Course in Miracles, and my own personal beliefs as well – the only real thing that exists is love. Everything else is just an illusion of this 3d world we live in.
But don’t get me wrong – even if it’s part of the illusion we’ve created, it’s still a mother to do. I literally spent two years forgiving a particular person. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or didn’t try with all my might but that is how deep my suffering was. You see, the people we need to forgive the most, the ones that will benefit us the most – are the ones who stabbed our hearts with the deepest knife. They are the ones who left us feeling like we might never recover from the heartache.
So, I would say the first step is just realizing that you need to forgive that person. And if you’re thinking right now, “screw you Robin, it’s not gonna happen.” Then I will let you know that you will endure a lifetime of suffering. We are all irrevocably connected. So although you may not realize it, there is some thread of forgiveness that has to happen to yourself as well. As long as you have anger in your heart towards that person, you will never be truly free. The Course in Miracles (pg 13) says, “You who want peace can find it only by complete forgiveness.”
However, you can always know that this acceptance of the situation and your need to forgive doesn’t negate the fact that you most likely have unprocessed feelings that need to be felt and released. So go ahead, cry, scream, sob – get that shit out. Then begin down the road to forgiveness. Since it took me a while to work through this, I tried many various methods to peel back the layers. I’ve listed some of my tools below:
1) Radical Forgiveness - One of my dear friends, who was a life coach helped me to do the initial processing via a Radical Forgiveness sheet. You can find them online at https://www.radicalforgiveness.com/ Radical forgiveness helps you to really see the situation in a more objective manner. This is also where you really start to see that withholding forgiveness from someone else is actually withholding forgiveness from yourself. You see, we can only extend to others what we hold inside of ourselves. We begin to see that forgiveness requires that we let ourselves off the hook as well.
2) Journaling – Getting things out of my head is also a big processing technique for me. It’s almost like it stops the flow of pain and thoughts that I can get trapped in and really allows me to process the situation from a more objective place. In this particular situation when I felt bombarded by the thoughts and feelings on a continual basis, journaling really allowed me to get some of it out of me in a healthy manner.
3) Walk and talk or walk therapy – two friends of mine have helped me to find the power of walking and talking about things. I’m not sure why it works, but it totally does. You can do this with a friend or even out loud by yourself. Yes, I talk out loud to myself a lot. You might be asking yourself at this point , “do I care if people see me and think I’ve lost it?” – no I do not.
4) Say it like you mean it - A friend of mine suggest that every time this person came up that I should pray for them. I also read along the way that I should say out loud that I forgive this person. Then I would immediately follow it with forgiveness to myself. I would kind of combine the prayer and the forgiveness and pray that God help me to forgive this person and myself. When I started doing this, the thing that really fucking amazed me is how often we have these hurtful thoughts. Now, this isn’t to say that I was wishing harm to this person. But I did learn that any time we have thoughts that aren’t from a place of compassionate love, we are also filtering those feelings through our own body first. Since we are all connected, this unresolved relationship causes many ripples in the universal consciousness. No wonder as a society we are sad, upset and anxious most of the time.
5) The Book of Forgiving exercise - my counselor told me about a book that I didn’t read but she gave me an exercise from it. The abridged version of the exercise is
1) Tell my story – when was the last time I felt that way? Tell my story to at least one other person. Again, the power of talking about our feelings is pretty profound here.
2) Name your pain – Put a title or description to the pain you felt from the situation.
3) Forgiveness – Accept that we all have the capacity to hurt others and have done so at many times, even if unwittingly. I love this quote by Maya Angelou that embodies that truth, “I am human, there is nothing human that’s alien to me.”
4) Renew or release – You get to decide: Do I extend forgiveness to this person or do I renew the ties that bind.
6) The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – In his book, Joseph Murphy provides a simple but effective exercise. Find yourself in a quiet, safe location and simply offer a mental and spiritual release to the person in question. You then wish love, peace and joy to that person.
7) Creative activities – Drawing, painting, doodling, singing, playing my guitar; anything that got me out of my head a bit really helped. Although, I will warn you that if you’re anything like me music heals by bringing all the shit up, so be prepared.
8) Various exercises and meditations online – As much as technology can annoy the shit out of me sometimes, it does come in handy quite a bit for finding helpful tools we can use to heal ourselves. Just search for “forgiveness”, you’ll be pretty amazed at the variety of stuff that comes up.
I’d like to tell you it’s a quick fix, but I’ve never been a bullshiter before, I’m not gonna start now. But if you think about it, it’s really quite amazing that we’ll spend years of wasted time being upset with someone but the thought of actually releasing and forgiving that person for a hot minute seems so daunting. At times, it can be a slow arduous process that takes a lot of compassion, faith and help from the Big Guy. But it is so worth it. I was actually quite amazed with a revelation I had as some point along this forgiving journey – there was truly nothing to forgive. Some of you may want to punch me in the face at this statement, but we all act in accordance with the divine plan which is laid out for us. We act out the parts we were meant to – triggering the wounds that need to be healed in the other. We also begin to really know and feel that everyone is doing the best they can with the information they have at the time. The compassion and love we begin to feel towards others provides a means to extend that same compassion and love towards ourselves.