Thoughts on Forgiveness
by Arlene Arnold
What Forgiveness is not: It is not saying that what happened is O.K. It is not necessarily forgetting. It is not burying what you feel. When we say, " I can't forgive," we actually mean, "I won't forgive." Forgiveness is: releasing the emotion. As Mary Mcleod Bethune says, "Forgiveness is not forgetting, it's letting go of the hurt". As my friend, Jo Sturm, reminded me, the scar from the hurt may still be there, but the pain has disappeared.
Ways to forgive others and yourself:
- Recognize that this person or circumstance was in your life for a reason. You chose to experience it. Ask what you are to learn from it.
- See the events as a drama unfolding on a stage. Observe it from that divine part of you that can stand in the wings or sit in the audience. From this vantage point, you will see every person and yourself in your humanness.
- Look within the person (or yourself) to see that little child that is coping with life in the best way it knows how. It is unaware that there is more to life than this moment in time. It feels overwhelmed by life from this point of view. Allow yourself to feel compassion for this inner child.
- Recognize that this person or persons are a mirror for you. Through them you may see the shadow part of yourself. By observing them, you may see yourself, not as you would like to be, but as you sometimes are. Recognize that what you see is not all of them or all of you, but only that human part struggling to live the human life; therefore, there is no need for judgment of yourself or others. We may extend grace to all because we recognize that each and all are doing the best they can, are experiencing what they came to learn from and they may choose to not learn as well as to learn. Our compassion is for the pain and suffering, but we are not to take it away, only to be there to encourage and love and empower them to seek their own healing, their own lessons, their own understanding of this life.
- Recognize that to hold on to the resentment and hurt means that you will magnetize this person or this type of event to yourself. Only when it is released will it disappear.
- Practice forgiveness affirmations and prayers. Begin with forgiving all who need to be forgiven including yourself. Follow this with encouraging others to forgive you. This does not need to be done in person. In fact, in most cases it is more effectively done through meditation and prayer. That way we are not caught up in the human limitations, but can experience all facets of the situation and persons. It usually is not a one-time experience. In the beginning there may be many you want to forgive and ask forgiveness of. Then, if you follow this with continued alertness for the emotions of resentment and hurt, you may release these hurts just as soon as they happen. You can move into that observer stance immediately and use these ways of releasing. This is a way of remaining cleansed and never allowing yourself to stuff emotions into your body.
- Congratulate yourself for you willingness to release the hurt. Celebrate your desire to learn and grow from these experiences. Allow that divine part of yourself to encourage and be proud of the human side of yourself that is willing to live joyfully within the duality of human experience. Celebrate the awakening to your wholeness.
Arlene Arnold publishes a monthly online newsletter. It's filled with ideas and tools for assisting you on your life's journey. Her insight, understanding and powerful tools can help you shift what no longer serves you. Embrace your true fulfillment today and subscribe to the newsletter.