Forgiveness, the other “F” word, is one of the recovery components from unresolved grief. We know we have to do it but it’s so darn hard. We find all the reasons we can to NOT forgive. We convince ourselves that forgiveness is “crazy talk”. But….he did this. But….she said that. It would be WRONG to forgive. We place ourselves in our own unforgiving universe just because we don’t want to deal with it or worse yet, we don’t want to let go of “being right”. We think it is easier to stay angry or hold a grudge. But is it really?
Think of what it does to your body walking around in perpetual state of anger or resentment all the time. It’s like always being in a fight or flight mode. Our bodies weren’t meant to operate that way. Staying on guard against a threat eventually wears down the body’s natural defenses. After awhile, we end up with physical symptoms ranging anywhere from headaches to heart attacks. Why would anyone chose to do this to themselves?
What we tend to forget is that forgiveness is about us not the other person. You are not focusing on “being right” no matter what. You are not condoning someone’s behavior. You are trying to better understand what they may have been through. You are trying to “let go” so your own heart, soul, mind and body can be free.
Before even attempting to forgive anyone else, we should make sure that we are at peace with ourselves. This is often harder to do than forgiving someone else. Why is that? First of all we are our own worst critics. We place high expectations on ourselves and if we don’t meet them we are the first ones to send ourself a barrage of criticism. That voice inside our head starts to nag us for being less than perfect. But we aren’t perfect. We were never meant to be perfect. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves. We have to accept that we are human and will continue to make mistakes. We have to accept in our hearts this is okay. Carrying around resentment and anger against ourselves just hurts us and no one else.
The Grief Recovery Method® shows us what to do to forgive:
Take Action – Forgiveness is an action not a feeling. Once you taken the action to forgive, your feelings will follow. For many, the very act of forgiving feels like a huge weight being lifted off their shoulders. For others, it brings the walls down they have built around their heart.
Don’t forgive someone in person – Since you are forgiving to heal yourself, the person being forgiven need never know it has happened. If you try to forgive someone in person, especially if they don’t think they did or said anything wrong, they may perceive it as a personal attack. It could provoke a new issue that could create even more incompleteness in your own life. As a result, it is suggested you never forgive someone in person.
Don’t ask for forgiveness – Asking for forgiveness is really making an apology. If you feel the need to say something directly to another person, make it in the form of an apology. Although you may have been hurt by the other person, that does not eliminate the need to make an apology for what you may or may not have done to them. Apologizing helps you to be complete.
WHAT TO SAY
“I forgive you so I can be free.” – Forgiveness is about you not the other person. This statement helps to remind you that forgiving is helping to set you free from the emotional baggage caused by anger and resentment.
“I forgive you so I don’t keep holding onto anger.” – Do you really want to carry that resentment and anger around with you forever? This statement is another way of saying I am taking care of me and this is what is important.
“I acknowledge the things you did/didn’t do that hurt hurt me and I am not going to let the memories of those incidents hurt me anymore.” – Sometimes a person creates a situation in your life that is almost impossible to forgive. This may be especially true when rape, abuse or domestic violence are involved. Instead of forgiving the person, you can forgive to let go of the memories or incidents so they no longer cause you pain. This is another way of setting yourself free so you can move forward.
I know for some people just thinking about forgiveness may not be enough. In those instances, writing your thoughts down in a journal or having some sort of “ceremony” might be more beneficial for you. Here is a short forgiveness mediation you can try using any type of candle you have around the house:
In a quiet place, light a candle.
Take a few deep breaths and relax.
Think of the person you want to forgive standing on the other side of the candle.
Look into the flame of the candle. The flame represents truth, love and kindness. Visualize the negative energy you are holding onto going into the candle’s flame. When it reaches the flame it turns into beautiful white light.
Mentally move this white light into the other person.
Now say, “I forgive you.” (Say this as many times as feels right).
After forgiving the other person wrap yourself in the white light to wash away any leftover traces of resentment or anger.
Thank yourself for having the courage to forgive.
Take a few deep breaths and relax.
You can also use this meditation for self-forgiveness. Just visualize yourself, instead of someone else, standing on the other side of the candle.
Marianne Williamson writes: “Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” Here is a video of Marianne talking about forgiveness on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.
Sending you love, comfort and peace!