“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger, but faces it head on.” – Alice Miller
“You can’t undo anything you’ve already done, but you can face up to it. You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And let God do the rest.” – unknown
And…….now we get to the topic of forgiveness. In my own journey of transformation, which is always a work in progress, it took me a long time to get to even attempt the process of forgiveness. I was always looked at as a very forgiving person by other people but the truth was I wasn’t really working the process. I was overlooking things and practicing poor boundaries without processing my anger and hurt which would naturally create a space within which forgiveness could live. I would tell myself the spiritual thing was to forgive, so I would jump over all my feelings and go straight to trying to love the person knowing that forgiveness was the right thing to do. This doesn’t work and will never be true forgiveness because it usually means those feelings are still in there somewhere preventing the pure release that forgiveness offers. Today, I offer to you that it isn’t someone else you need to forgive right now. Before you can forgive anyone else, it’s all too important to forgive yourself. What you are able to give to yourself will be much easier to give to another.
So, what are you holding against yourself? Take a look at your life and see where you’re carrying shame, guilt, and anger at yourself. Get real and practice the radical honesty with yourself I spoke about in an earlier blog post. Face yourself and your own self-loathing. When you get really serious and committed to the process of transformation, you have to cleanse. Forgiveness is the ultimate inner cleanser and you have to start with yourself. Many times we think we’re angry at someone who has betrayed us or some circumstance we’ve deemed unfair. When we dig a little deeper, we find often that we’re angry at ourselves. The truth is that in many situations, when something has gotten really bad for us and we are in deep amounts of anger, hurt, resentment, etc. we can trace our upset back to some decisions we made that landed us there. I remember the moment I realized in my situation with an ex that it was actually me I was angry with for all the decisions I had made against myself. The decisions I made again and again to allow hurtful behavior without setting boundaries for myself, the decision to stay again and again when I should have left, and the many many ways in which I showed little to no respect and love for myself. It was a light bulb moment for me. I had thought all along it was him I was angry with and only him. But I had been housing all of this shame and anger toward myself that I hadn’t even been aware of until then.
When we begin working on self-forgiveness, it creates a great deal of space within which we can see things from a more loving, compassionate and true perspective for ourselves and for others . This is why we need to practice forgiveness. Forgiveness frees us from the bondage of our own judgment. What I am finding is that forgiveness is a multi-layered process that needs to be revisited again and again, sometimes in the same situation, before healing is complete. So start the process from within by taking a look at what you’re holding against yourself and practicing the truth that you never did anything wrong. You made choices and you did the best that you could with the level of awareness you had at the time. Remember that life is perfectly designed for your maximal growth and anything you think you did wrong has only contributed to your unfolding toward a greater and truer version of you.
Tonight, I’ll take my own advice and let myself off the hook. I’ll find a space of compassion in there somewhere and apply it to my self-judgment. I hope you’ll join me, and then I’m sure we’ll revisit the topic of forgiveness in future blogs as it is a deep and important subject.