But, what if we just have no idea what forgiveness means or how to go about it?
Sometimes some acts seem unforgiveable. While we may know we are suffering because of what someone did to us in the past we remain powerless in the present.
This post is about what lies behind the perception that we do not know how to forgive or the need of unforgiveness.
1) What is unforgiveness?
2) Why is it hard to forgive?
3) What does it really mean to forgive?
4) Is there a need underlying unforgiveness?
What is unforgiveness?
If forgiveness is a process of freeing myself of old hurt including resentment or desire for justice to be made, then, unforgiveness is an attitude of victimhood that keeps me from living fully in the present.
If forgiveness is an act of self-love that allows me to embrace the wound with compassion, then, unforgiveness is an act of self-hate that ensures I suffer.
If forgiveness is the ability to hear my pain and grieve the hurt, then, unforgiveness is not listening, feeling or being vulnerable with myself.
If forgiveness is letting go of a story that can haunt me incessantly, then unforgiveness is holding on to the story that I think makes me who I am.
Maybe I am more compassionate as a result of what happened, but I do not have to hold on to the traumatic story to be what I am.
Byron Katie of The Work, asks "who would I be without my story?"
Without the story we are just free to be.
We all have a story. However, when that story includes trauma, there are layers of hurt trapped in the body. When the memories of trauma surface the need to be heard seems endless.
Is there an end to retelling our traumatic story?
Yes, I believe so. Sometimes, the wounds of trauma run deep and we keep retelling our traumatic story thinking that can heal us.
When we can integrate what happened by discharging what is in our body, we can release energy in service of ourselves and others rather than using that energy against ourselves and others.
Integration includes letting go of our ego's need to judge and punish and learning about our humanity.
Why is it hard to forgive?
It is hard to forgive because the transgression seems so personal and life altering.
It can be hard to forgive when as humans we are capable of dehumanizing one another. Atrocities do occur and yet we are capable of great humanity as well.
It is hard to forgive when we believe the transgression or injustice was about us more than about the other's pain.
Forgiveness is hard because it means taking responsibility for the current circumstances in my life instead of holding others or some event(s) accountable.
Forgiveness is hard because it is not just a single act of letting go of horrific moments in our past. It is a daily practice of letting go of small things with kindness, so I can also let go of the bigger, heavier or harder stuff.
What does it really mean to forgive?
It means I stop numbing myself, thinking I cannot handle it and allow my e-motion to flow.
It means allowing any strong emotion like rage to be released from my body through motion like running, dancing or even just moving and making sounds.
We let out what was let in.
It means being vulnerable and brave to feel even the deepest fear because we have survived what happened.
It means surrendering and trusting in our strength and/or in a benevolent force much wiser than us to heal.
Forgiveness means choosing to be responsible when my needs are compromised moment by moment by allowing hurt and grief.
Forgiveness means willingness to learn when I and others make mistakes or violate my values.
Unforgiveness is a need to be heard not so much by others as to what was dishonored....
Being unheard can feel disempowering.
My needs empower me so I do not have to carry resentment, anger or bitterness.
Even if I think that I do not know how to forgive, I can set an intention to listen to what I need and be patient as it is a process.
I begin by listening with the intention of going within rather than looking outside. I reconnect to what has been neglected within.
I listen to any judgments that point to unmet needs.
When I listen, I remove the armor that keeps me from feeling.
I cannot forgive/heal what I cannot feel. If I cannot feel, I cannot know my needs. If I do not know my needs, I slowly decay until life loses meaning. Without meaning, I may be breathing but walking like the dead.
Forgiveness gives me wings to fly through uncertain times with a little more joy and peace.
Are you choosing the decay of unforgiveness or love through forgiveness?
Can you trust that you know how to let go?