Me in Matera, Italy

Thursday, 18 August 2011

forgive [fəˈgɪv]

I've been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately, it's part of this Soul Restoration process ~ they tell you to forgive everyone, YES EVERYONE.  There have been numerous studies that have shown that people who forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic and become more compassionate. This all results in a reduction in stress and physical manifestations of stress.  Based on this, it sounds like forgiveness is something you actually do for yourself and not for others.

I recognize that I do not have a forgiving heart and that is something I want to change about myself.  I can intellectualize that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.  The trouble is, I don't really understand forgiveness.  What does it even mean? How do you actually forgive?  Is forgiveness necessary?  I did some research on the internet machine to get some more insight and perspective;  what I learned has actually really helped me understand what forgiveness is and even more importantly what forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness IS the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger.

Forgiveness IS NOT excusing the behavior or actions of others. I think my biggest struggle with forgiveness has been the feeling that I am condoning hurt others have inflicted on me.  What I am coming to see though is that it's not about saying you are okay with what happened or that you agree with it, it's about letting go and moving on.
Forgiveness IS NOT forgetting or wiping the slate.  As Arthur Schopenhauer has said  "To forgive and forget means to throw away dearly bought experience."  Forgiveness does not mean you erase the past, or forget what has happened; all it means is that you are letting go of anger and pain and moving on to a better place.

Forgiveness IS NOT about reconciliation.  We have to make a separate decision about whether to reconcile with the person we are forgiving or whether maintaining distance is a healthier choice for us.

Forgiveness DOES NOT have to involve any interaction at all with the person you are forgiving.  It can be simply something that changes in your heart or for those who require something more tangible, there are several symbolic letting-go rituals that can help with the process. For me, I feel like it will be cathartic to write letters to express all of my feelings and explain why I need to let go and then I plan to have another burn party.  Last week I had an anger burn party where I burned some cards and letters that that were causing me anger.  This week I am going to have a forgiveness burn party where I burn the letters of forgiveness and release that into the universe.

Now that I have dissected and analyzed this concept of forgiveness and have been able to differentiate what it is versus what it is not, I believe that FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE and even further that forgiveness will change my life. There are people I will find hard to forgive, it will be even harder for me to forgive myself but I know it's time to really let go of the past and focus on the present.  I'm moving on.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so far behind on my reading! But I'm catching up slowly and not feeling guilt as I am recovering and moving forward.
    I'm struggling through the same processes as this. Forgiveness is hard to find sometimes. It takes more effort than ignoring the problems. But it really does feel better afterwards.

    Moving on and moving forward with you!