I’ve been thinking about the concept of forgiveness on this cloudy Saturday morning. So many thoughts are buzzing through my head, and I’m trying to think about all the references I have ever read about. None of them feel right to me.
So I think about what forgiveness looks or feels like. Who or what have I forgiven? How did it make me feel? What was necessary to forgive? I think first and foremost, I have had to forgive myself for actions that I have either felt bad about or that I had no control over, but still had control over me. Then there are acts that people have done which have hurt.
For me it’s releasing the negative power or hold that this person or act has had on me. It’s accepting that it happened, noting the consequences, and being able to move forward in life without that it blocking or influencing everything I do.
So is that really forgiveness or is it letting go or walking alongside whatever happened? And do we ever really let go of something that has affected us so strongly that we feel anger or sadness about it?
Imagine holding onto anger, bitterness, despair, sadness, wrath, indignation, rage, misery, melancholy, anxiety, guilt, or shame. Do you feel the weight of that negativity? My shoulders hunch over just thinking about it. My stomach ties in knots. My head aches. My world looks dim.
What if I took that emotion and the act that caused it and placed it alongside me, instead of having it plastered in front of my face? What if I acknowledge that yes this happened, yes this person betrayed, hurt, tried to break me or this action happened that almost destroyed me, but I’m not going to let it. I’m going to walk next to it.
Two things will happen.
One. I will see the world as I did before–from a clearer, happier, fresher perspective. It’s like a dark cloud will have been lifted, and I can see how much love others have for me and that I have for myself. I see what is right here, right now, and I choose to be with what is positive. I have forgiven myself and others.
Two. I start to walk faster, surer, and with a confidence that negativity tried to take away. Soon what I placed beside me slows down for surely it can’t carry all that horrid weight. And I leave it behind. Sometimes it might get a burst of energy and catch up, but if I stay positive it won’t get ahead.
It’s a conscious act to do this. It can involve letting this person know that they no longer have that control over you and how their actions affect you. If that person is no longer here or seeing them isn’t plausible, write them a letter, read it out loud, and let it go.
Write about what you need to forgive, what is blocking you from moving forward, what fills you with the emotions I listed above. Write out the details and decide if any action with that person is needed. If not, let it be, accept that this person may never change, but it doesn’t mean they have that power over you.
Write down how you felt before you removed this block and how you feel after. Refer back to those positive feelings whenever you notice them catching up. Stay in emotional shape by doing what makes you feel wonderful, strong, and happy.
I would love to hear what your idea of forgiveness is and how it has worked for you.