From our "Best Of" Series: Originally Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013
I have an issue with Forgiveness. When I hear people say, "I need to forgive...." I immediately become aware of a heaviness in their heart. We place a lot of importance on forgiveness and I'd like to present a lighter, maybe easier, or freeing, way of looking at it. I might even go as far as to say that if you can make sense of what I have to say on it, you might consider dropping the word altogether from your vocabulary. I personally have.
Forgiveness is an action. It's also an expectation that we place upon ourselves. Here begins my issue. Aren't we already hard enough on ourselves? I mean, come on, who DOESN'T have an inner critic? Right, no one. Forgiveness is an action we think we have to take or should take in order to feel better and when we cannot forgive we carry around the weight even longer. And what happens when you carry a 5 lb rock around that you never put down? It gets heavier and heavier and harder and harder to carry. We begin to stoop with the weight of it all. We even pack on pounds thinking somehow that extra weight will make us stronger. Certainly not a freeing place to be in, because then we even feel guilty about THAT! It gets worse and worse and bigger and bigger.
Forgiveness can also be disguised as denial or avoidance. How many of us just say, 'Oh I forgave that person' and then we feel it in our guts or chest the old hurt or pain once there? Many of us often think we even have to forgive ourselves for simply being who we are. When we 'forgive' without really understanding the nature of the issue that brought the need to forgive on, we stay on the surface. We avoid dealing with what really happened. We skipped over what in us needs soothing, what in us needs love, what in us needs to be expressed. We don't allow ourselves to be human, to be real. We think 'forgiving' will make all the yuck go away and in reality it just buries the hurt we suffered unless we have truly done "our work" around it. And when we do our work around a pain or hurt, the need to forgive becomes erased.
My last issue with forgiveness, as most people use the word, is that we give our power away. We have already been hurt and keeping that need to forgive around keeps the hurt even more present! And if it is another person, it keeps their impact on us around as well; and then, we constantly size ourselves up in comparison or we entertain reminders-all until we 'forgive'.... We, in a sense, give all of our power away to that individual or situation. We keep Joy and Love away from us as we keep our focus on the need to Forgive.
What we are truly seeking is freedom— freedom from pain, hurt, sorrow, guilt, worry, anxiety, past and future. We want to put down our burdens and let go of all that extra baggage. We want to move on and let our minds become present again. Forgiveness keeps us stuck in things that we consider went wrong for us. It keeps us from being able to move forward with clarity and joy. There is a sadness around forgiveness and the best way to handle it is to acknowledge it and use it as a guide into deeper waters.
My approach to forgiveness is this:
If I think to myself, I really need to forgive __________ for treating me that way, or hurting me that way, it is a big red flag saying, I have something to learn here or see in
my Self. This is an opportunity for personal growth and expansion and it has nothing to do with forgiving. It has everything to do with Gratitude. A need to forgive is simply a sign that we have some work to do on ourselves. It is an opportunity to expand our own personal awareness and we have to be willing to really look into the depths here. We have to face the mirror and understand why this situation even presented itself in our life. The best thing is that when we figure it out—we see why it happened—we mined the diamond from the coal! Ahhhhhhhhhhh, relief. Now that feels better.
There is a gift in all exchanges and when we find them we have freedom. When we discover the gems hidden beneath the dirt we feel grateful, and then true healing can begin. You see, forgiveness has nothing to do with anyone else, it has everything to do with your relationship with your Self. There are so many beautifully faceted aspects to Self and all relationships give us a chance to look in the mirror. We cannot see in another what we haven't already recognized within on some level. We just can't. If we see something for the first time, we don't know what it is.
There is a true story about Columbus first coming to the shores of this continent. Each day the Natives would send their Scout out to the coastline, the beaches, to stare far off into the horizon and scan for anything unusual. His job was to alert the rest of the clan if something was coming upon them. Each day he goes out and looks and looks. Meanwhile the ships are getting closer and closer. He never sees them. He doesn't see them until they are so close to shore that it's too late to do anything about it. What happened is that his brain had never had to process a ship before so he couldn't see it. Literally, he could NOT see it. He didn't know what it was. There are also stories of people from remote Asian countries coming to live here in the US and not even recognizing red hair for months because it is not something they see back in their country. To them everyone has straight black hair.
So I repeat, we cannot see in another what we haven't already recognized within ourselves, on some level. This is where you have to do the work, start digging, start mining. Look for the gift in the experience. How are you wiser, stronger? What opportunities did it afford you? Love yourself even more for this discovery. When you can do that you fill up with gratitude for even having had the experience. And the gratitude is what sets you free. When you can feel grateful you no longer need to forgive because there IS nothing to forgive! There is only Gratitude for that diamond! Now that is freedom! That is relief. That is Joy! That is something to Celebrate!
So quit beating yourself up and carrying that extra weight around. Life is too short for all of that junk. Instead go for the gold and be daring in your search. Be willing to look within and celebrate all of the challenges in life for what they bring you. There is a gift in EVERY exchange and it is up to you to look for it, see it, own it. When you can do this, forgiveness becomes only a clue, a sign of something more to see.
Think of Forgiveness like an Iceberg— there is WAY more beneath the surface than what you are seeing with your naked eye. The beauty of the berg lies within the depths. How willing are you to go there? What jewels may you find hiding there?
Now, doesn't this approach sound lighter, more positive? Try it out— next time you say I need to forgive, instead ask what opportunity is presenting itself to me? How can I grow from this? What jewel is waiting to be discovered within me?
You are truly a remarkable faceted jewel and it's about time you polish your Self up and share that sparkle!!
~ in gratitude,
MARI Practitioner* Reiki Master* Meditation Teacher* Intuitive* Optimist* Enthusiast* Creative* Blogger*
"The moment you doubt being able to fly, you cease being able to do it." ~ J. M. Barrie