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the power of forgiveness

Anger and resentment are part of a human life. Most of us are stuck harboring some long-held grievance from childhood or later in life. Minor irritations that arise repeatedly also collect over time affecting our relationships and happiness.

Grievances are part of the spectrum of human feelings that result naturally when events or people don’t behave as we want. The worst are the situations that hurt deeply – betrayal and insults. It is human and truthful to acknowledge that these feelings can fester within us even when we push them aside and move on, wanting to forgive and forget.

For some offenses, we do not have the authority to forgive. For example, children have no power and make choices to survive, and because they love. When children are violated, it isn’t in their purview to grant forgiveness. Their work is to release themselves from responsibility and leave all the consequences with those who violated them. Only when we have power do we also have authority to absolve another. Those who violate children must look to God.

There can be confusion and misconceptions about what forgiveness looks like. To forgive is beyond ‘no longer angry.’ It is a sincere washing away of the vestiges of judgment and blame. However, forgiveness is the gateway to happiness, the only gate. And to forgive there are steps through which we can and must traverse. Forgiveness isn’t easy and it is rewarding, even when our effort is imperfect.

Stages of Forgiveness

tips on how to forgive someone

An Unwavering Commitment to Forgive

This is the beginning of forgiveness: wanting to forgive. This makes forgiveness possible. Sometimes we want to forgive but we don’t really want to forgive. We wallow in anger when we repeatedly revisit the harm done to us or someone we love. Sometimes we must first pray to want to forgive and for the commitment to do so.

We pay a tremendous price for anger. It eats at us emotionally and physically. Eventually, exhausted and miserable, we may long to forgive though we do not know how.

Refusing to Relive the Wounds of the Past

Resentments and grievances die hard. They surface continually in all sorts of situations: when you lay awake at night, perform a simple task, and especially if you must see the person who hurt you. To forgive, the commitment must be strong enough to refuse to entertain the painful memories when they arise. You must turn away from thoughts about how you’ve been wronged. You must stop reliving what happened when it happened, how it happened. None of that matters and it is an insurmountable barrier to forgiveness.

importance of forgiving yourself

Experience the Physical Sensations of Anger and Hurt as a Sacred Process

While it is essential to stop the constant replay that holds anger in place, it is equally necessary to go into your suffering as a physical experience. This is because the wounds and anger are held energetically in the body and it is the body that must let go. The process, however, is sacred, not to be indulged or taken lightly. There are many disciplines, Shamanic and Western, that address this. In earlier blogs I have written about a meditation I personally found to be effective:

what are the steps to forgiveness

I sometimes refer to this as the child meditation because it provides an opportunity to look closely at how we put ourselves together as children, forming our personalities. Zen meditation is also powerful. It trains us to remain present in the moment and can create a breakthrough from resentment to peace. Soul retrieval and shamanic rituals are likewise powerful tools for healing.

Who Must I Really Forgive?

Each of the prior steps provides an opportunity to clarify what happened and how the painful situation came about, starting with, “Why am I truly angry?” “Who really needs my forgiveness?” Often, the one we do not forgive is ourselves and until we do so, we cannot forgive the other. Though we may not have caused what happened, we may regret our unawareness of what led to the situation. We may blame ourselves or be ashamed of our reaction.

In my experience, self-forgiveness is the greatest barrier to true forgiveness. When we accept ourselves as flawed but still worthy, we see there is nothing and no one else who isn’t also worthy.

learn self forgiveness

Truth and Illusion

The Buddhists teach that all human suffering is caused by unmet expectations and judgments. When we embrace ‘what is so’ without denial and argument, we will experience joy, heaven on earth. To live in this way, is a profound process of ongoing forgiveness. When the little slings and arrows come our way, we welcome them. When the driver in front sits texting, when unauthorized charges show up on your credit card, when the kitchen sink backs up. No problem. We live and then we die. No problem. We welcome what comes, we are not victims. We are souls yearning to have compassion for every sentient being. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentient_beings_(Buddhism)

Christians also teach that forgiveness and compassion are at the heart of a life well lived. A Course in Miracles, grounded in Christianity, teaches that forgiveness and happiness are the same. Anyone who has experienced the compassion of forgiveness knows directly the truth of this.

Forgiveness stands between truth and illusion. In forgiveness we forgo the illusion that we have been harmed. The truth is that we are divine creatures who cannot be harmed. If, as the Buddhists teach, heaven is found in letting go of illusions, then our salvation, joy, and forgiveness are one.

how to be forgiving

[Forgiveness] undoes what was never done. …

What but a Thought of God could be this plan,

by which the never done is overlooked

and sins forgotten which were never real?

Lesson 99, A Course in Miracles

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If you are looking for support with letting go of anger, resentment, frustration with yourself or others, connect with Dr. Egli for an in-person consultation or a phone consultation, to get the support you need. Experience the joys and freedom that come from the continued practice of forgiveness.

 

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