Why is forgiveness so bloody hard?
I bang on about forgiveness all the time, because in short it is forgiveness that will set you free from pain and allow you to grow, allow you to love and be loved. But I know that I am not alone when I say it is really bloody hard!
Forgiveness is rooted in history, in spirituality of all kind.
“forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness and but because you deserve peace” Buddha
“do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace” Dalai Lama
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” Bible
“adopt forgiveness, instruct what is right, ignore the foolish” Quran
“when you look deeply into your anger you will see that the person you call your enemy is also suffering, as soon as you see that, your capacity for accepting and having compassion for them is there” Thich Naht Hanh
These are just a few quotes I picked up, and to be totally honest a lot of them trigger me, which gives me insight into my own difficulty with forgiveness.
I can jump straight into the big one for my own triggers, and surprisingly is comes via the Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Naht Hanh! It is the word accepting that makes me go nooooooo!!! I don’t want to accept the bad choices and behaviour of those who have hurt me. Acceptance to me suggests that what they have done is ok, and its not. If in forgiving them I am saying that it is ok, then hell no, I am not going there!
And then let’s move onto the bible and the Quran, there is a lot of talk around forgiveness in these epic tomes, God’s forgiveness of our sins, Allah’s mercy, and that totally winds me up! Now I am not about to start disrespecting another mans religion, this is not what this is about, but more recognising triggers and challenges. The thought of some high and mighty dude sitting in judgement of me totally sets me off in a spin. I take full responsibility for my actions, I do not require the forgiveness of somebody else to make my life complete. This screams of higher power, of ego, and I don’t like to feel judged, but equally don’t want to feel like some egotistical maniac throwing my mercy and forgiveness around, maybe it isn’t mine to forgive??
I admit the good old Dalai Lama and Buddha don’t trigger me so much, because the gentleness of their words and focus on our own inner peace is very beautiful, and I think what we all really want. But it doesn’t help me understand why I struggle with it. In fact, their gentleness and beauty make me feel quite frankly not good enough! Perhaps I am just too arsey to be able to forgive?? Perhaps I identify too strongly with my own anger and pain to be able to forgive? Perhaps I am scared of the change that will occur if I let go of the anger? What will be left? Will I still be me?
So far, I have recognised a block in acceptance of others actions, a massive issue with judgement and authority, a fear of change, some low level not good enough bullshit I weave into everything, a possible feminist strength/power conflict, and maybe a bit of judgement that I don’t want to become a barefoot flower fairy floating around spreading love and losing my perceived edginess!
So, then I turn to a different view point on forgiveness, the Hawaiian practice of ho-opono-pono.
This practice is not about forgiving others, but about clearing and forgiving yourself. The basic premise is that everything that happens to you, that you experience is your own responsibility; therefore, you can forgive yourself, you can ‘clear’ yourself of the energy attached to it, heal yourself and others in doing so. And once again this totally triggers me! It screams of victim blaming, I refuse to take responsibility for the action of others, I lived with the fear and shame that I was in some way to blame for the bad that was done to me, I have had years of therapy to get away from that, no no no, I will not go there, I will remain angry, I will remain hurt, I will remain damaged and reactive…uh yeah, I see where I am going with this. All these feelings, these responses, they are mine, mine to let go of…but I still don’t get it, but now I have got over my little paddy about victim blaming I might give it a 2nd look.
Having delved a little deeper into this practice my understanding of it is that it isn’t really a forgiveness practice, more a mantra that allows us to up our vibe, to shift on an energetic level. The mantra itself is this:
I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
We can only be hurt by our thoughts. We say I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you and thank you to our own experience, to our own soul. The acceptance is of our experience, not the deed, the love we shower down on our own self, not on the person who has hurt us, all the positivity and energetic good stuff is about shifting our shit, not another persons. And I believe that by doing this it will no longer matter what the other person or people do or did, in upping our own vibe we heal ourselves. And in healing ourselves we take away that energy drain that is anger and pain.
I am no expert guru on forgiveness practice, I am but a human who has experienced shit and has used forgiveness to free myself from it. I wonder if perhaps the difficulty we have with forgiveness is with the word itself? Forgiveness feels to me like it is rooted in some sort of judgement, some sort of definitive right and wrong, good and bad, heaven and hell, light and dark, and I just don’t think that this is our place. I also feel that forgiveness can be used wrongly to absolve people of responsibility of their own actions. Religious cults are rife with people who do bad deeds and continue to do bad deeds under the notion that all is forgiven by god, so that sort of makes it all ok, no it doesn’t. Bad deeds, I believe are often the result of other bad deeds, understanding of this is crucial, but mass forgiveness does not enable healing, the only thing that can do that is understanding, love and responsibility, without awareness there can be none of this.
So, if not forgiveness what is it? I say freedom. It is freedom from negative patterns, it is freedom to distance yourself from toxic people or situations. It is freedom from shame, blame and pain.
The secret to happiness is freedom and the secret to freedom is courage. One of the most courageous things you will ever do is to finally let go of that which is hurting your heart and soul. Free yourself from the chains of other people’s actions. Step forward with loving kindness in your heart.
If you would like to talk further on this topic, if you feel some guidance and clarity on how to gain this freedom will help you within your healing journey then book a session to discuss daily practice, to help vocalise and release the pain and anger. The 1st time is always the hardest, it becomes easier. It is as if you gently untie the strings attached to the negativity, and they will slowly and gently float away, or sometimes it is like somebody has lifted heavy armour off of your chest, but this freedom is yours for the taking, with awareness, flow and loving kindness.
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