Tag Archives: Forgiveness

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Forgiveness (The Other “F” Word)

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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.

FORGIVING YOURSELF

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.

FORGIVING OTHERS

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.

FORGIVENESS MEDITATION

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.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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Forgiveness Ceremony

Conducting A Forgiveness Ceremony

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Forgiveness is one of the most important ways to repair your heart. You know you have to do it but it’s so darn hard. You find all the reasons you can to not forgive. You convince yourself that forgiveness is “crazy talk”. But….he did this to me. But….she said that to me. You convince yourself it would be wrong to forgive. You then place yourself in your own unforgiving universe just because you don’t want to deal with it or worse yet, you don’t want to let go of “being right”. Somehow you think it is easier to stay angry or hold a grudge than it is to forgive. But is it really?

Think of what it does to your body walking around in perpetual state of unforgiving. You are angry and resentful all the time. It’s like always being in a fight or flight mode. Your heart wasn’t meant to operate that way. Your body wasn’t meant to feel that way. Staying on guard against a threat eventually wears down the body’s natural defenses. After a while, you may end up with physical symptoms ranging anywhere from headaches to heart attacks. Why would you choose to do this to yourself?

What we often forget is that forgiveness is about you not the other person. Forgiveness means you are not focused on proving you are right. Forgiveness means you are not condoning someone’s behavior. Forgiveness means you are trying to better understand what the other may have been through. Forgiveness means you are trying to “let go” so your own heart, soul, mind and body can be free.

For some people, just thinking about forgiveness may not be enough. In those instances, doing something more symbolic can be beneficial. Here is a short forgiveness ceremony you can try.

MATERIALS

Any type of household candle.

INSTRUCTIONS

Sit in a comfortable position or chair.

Light the candle.

Close your eyes.

Breathe in for 5 counts. Breathe out for 5 counts.

Feel your body start to relax.

Now visualize the person you want to forgive (living or deceased) standing on the other side of the candle.

Look into the flame of the candle. It represents love and kindness.

Place what you need to forgive in the candle’s flame.

Once a part of the flame, it turns into beautiful white light. Move this white light into the other person.

Now say “I forgive you” as many times as needed.

After forgiving the other person, wrap yourself in the white light to remove any leftover traces of resentment or anger.

Thank yourself for having the courage to forgive.

Breathe in for 5 counts. Breathe out for 5 counts.

Slowly open your eyes.

Give thanks.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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8 Things You Can Do When Grieving A Divorce

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Sometimes we are quick to judge and wonder why anyone would grieve a divorce. Before we start on this topic, I wanted to share a Grief Recovery Method® definition, “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” If we look at divorce as changing a familiar pattern of behavior, sometimes after many, many decades, it would follow that a divorce can (and should) cause grief.

PRETENDING WE ARE OKAY

However these days, many of us plaster on a smile and pretend we don’t care. We don’t want to be judged or analyzed by our friends (i.e. “Why are your grieving for that jerk?” “You are better off without him,” “I can set you up with someone else.”).  We don’t want anyone to know how we are really feeling (i.e. “I am just so glad this is finally happening.”) when your heart is really breaking.

But even when we “fall out of love” or “dislike” the person we’ve been married to for all those years, it still hurts. It hurts because no one enters a marriage expecting it to fail. It hurts because all the plans we had for the future aren’t going to happen anymore. Retiring together in Idaho. Watching the children and grandchildren grow up. Taking a European vacation together. With a divorce, everything changes. Although we may not grieve for the spouse (I would argue that most people do), we do grieve for those unrealized hopes, dreams and expectations we had for the marriage and for the future

THINGS YOU CAN DO

Here are 8 things you can do when grieving a divorce:

Feel the emotions associated with the loss: Since every relationship is unique, how a person grieves is unique to that relationship. Feeling awful when you are going through a divorce is perfectly normal. Holding in your emotions will cause them too build over time.  The more they build, the more likely they are to affect our mental and physical well-being. This is why many people who avoid grieving end up with an illness. The bottom line is to feel the emotions. Grieving is normal and natural. Be sad. Be numb. Be tired. Your heart, mind and body will thank you.

Share how you are feeling: It’s so easy to just plaster on a fake smile and drag ourselves through day-to-day activities. Don’t do it. It you don’t feel like attending a sporting event on the weekend then don’t do it. Rather than not showing up to these events just let everyone know you are having a tough time, appreciate their offer but have to decline the invite. Those who love you will understand. You have to do what’s right for you

Ask for help: It is okay to ask for help. When things are “normal” we run around like superman and superwoman. We multi-task all day and collapse exhausted in bed at night. Grief turns our whole upside down. We can’t think. We can’t react. We can’t speak. We can’t sleep. Trying to do everything yourself is just asking for trouble. Reach out. Even if it is just asking someone to sit with you while you talk or cry. Maybe it’s asking another parent to take the kids for a few hours so you can actually get some much needed sleep. Asking for help when you are grieving is far better, definitely safer and certainly healthier for you than trying to handle everything yourself!

Be honest with your children: Children look up to us. They tend to do as we do. It’s important that as adults, we communicate accurately about our emotions so that our children can see, copy and learn. Tell your children the truth about how you are feeling. Being honest about your own grief will make your child feel safe in opening up about his or her own feelings. Just telling a child they were not the cause of their parents’ divorce is not enough. Having more helpful ideas about broken hopes, dreams and expectations will help children deal better with the enormous emotions created by divorce. By helping them face their emotions, you are ensuring they can more effectively deal with grief and loss events throughout their lives.

Practice self-care: Too many times we put our own self care on hold because we are facing grief. Did you know that grievers have a higher incident of illness and accidents? This is why it is important to try and take care of yourself as much as possible. If you are physically healthy, it makes it easier to deal with your emotions. If you are physically, spiritually and emotionally drained you put yourself at risk of getting sick or being in an accident. Be gentle with yourself during this time.

Take one day at a time  Don’t stress yourself out by thinking too far into the future. Just take it one day at a time. You may know how everything is going to work out and that’s okay.

Don’t be a victim: We often tend to blame the other person for how we feel at the end of marriage. When you hold someone else responsible for your feelings you place yourself in an “emotional jail.” The other person can never let you out; you become a victim and that’s a difficult, if not impossible, way to live. You have to free yourself in order to heal.

Allow your heart to heal before finding another relationship:  Sometime we want to find another relationship right away. We don’t want to be alone. Being with somebody is better than being alone. But replacing one relationship with another is unhealthy unless you have grieved and completed the loss. Starting to date when you haven’t dealt with the one “just-ending” can sabotage the new relationship. Emotional baggage we develop in reaction to the end of a marriage can become long-term habits that get dragged with us from relationship to relationship. It’s better to grieve and “complete” the relationship before moving on.

Divorce does not mean you failed.  Addressing any unmet hopes, dreams and expectations for the future can bring peace.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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