When we use forgiveness to free our minds from focusing on what happened, we free our thoughts, energy, and actions to engage in the present moment—the seat of our true power.
Three summers into my healing journey from a traumatic divorce, my ex husband and I verbally made amends. A series of events led me to that unexpected place of readiness. In short, I saw and experienced what it’s like to be on the receiving end of bitterness. However justified it may be, it’s ugly, and I don’t want to continue putting that type of energy into the world.
When it comes to full forgiveness, though, I admit I still have work to do. Since that powerful conversation of reconciliation, I slipped back into bitterness during a difficult co-parenting situation. And then it really hit me—of all places—while I was co-teaching a workshop on self love.
As my friend and life coach Angela Benck led her part of the workshop, I sat at the front of the class and participated in her “What the Heart Wants” writing exercise. The I want, I need, and I am grateful prompts moved my pen easily enough. Then we arrived at I forgive. My pen froze. I knew exactly what I needed to forgive, and I couldn’t write it.
I’ll go ahead and say it: forgiveness isn’t sexy. It’s hard enough to want to put down our search for romantic love and turn to mastering self love. Putting down our rage and victimhood in favor of forgiveness is even less appealing.
Anger and righteousness fuel our much-needed sense of power in the wake of feeling out of control through betrayal, divorce, or some other trauma. But I’ve learned enough to know that unresolved anger robs us of energy and even health, and forgiveness can actually be more rewarding than it sounds.
5 Freeing Truths
Here’s why I’m open and motivated to go deeper in forgiveness.
Forgiveness is all about you. Forgiveness is not centered on the person who hurt you. It doesn’t pardon the person or the after-effects of whatever trauma you’ve endured. It puts the point of focus on you and the invisible chains that are still binding you to what happened.
Forgiveness is about freeing your energy. Forgiveness isn’t something you do. It’s a process of release, of letting go. When you free your mind from focusing on what happened and what justice should look like, you free your thoughts, energy, and actions to engage in the present moment—the seat of your true power.
Forgiveness is not a one-time experience. Forgiveness is deep. There are layers to the process. Grasping it on an intellectual level is only the first step, and verbalizing it certainly isn’t the last step. Be open to learning how deeply and fully you can let go.
It’s okay to fake forgiveness. Physical, symbolic exercises can help us practice forgiveness, even when our minds and hearts aren’t fully onboard. One of the first forgiveness exercises I tried was writing out what happened and burning it in a fire pit. I’m also experimenting with Hoʻoponopono—a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the need for boundaries. You can practice forgiveness in relation to a past trauma or abuse. But that doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to continue to be exposed to the hurtful situation or place yourself in a position where you’re at risk of being hurt again. It’s important to continue working on self love and the healthy, smart boundaries that come with it.
Release and Renew
The first step toward forgiveness is acknowledgement and acceptance of what happened. There’s no need to rush that step, but you don’t need an offender’s participation to complete it. Don’t wait for an apology or an admission that you know will never come. Eventually it’s time to speak your truth, and then redirect your energy toward healing and living well.
What are you holding onto, and what are you getting out of it? Are you willing to give up your desire to hold on in exchange for more mental, physical, and emotional energy? What would you do with that newfound energy?
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