To reiterate from last post, forgiving does not mean that you think what happened was okay. It means that you free yourself from the energy of reliving the hurt (maybe on a loop) and getting angry at people, circumstances and things that probably aren’t around anymore. This includes the ‘you,’ that makes mistakes, just like everyone else. It’s like getting stuck in mud and continuing to spin your wheels, just to beat yourself up. USE that energy elsewhere and stop carrying around useless ‘baggage,’ (this is the definition of baggage – stuff you don’t get over and bring with you into every part of your life.) that does nothing more than bring you down further. You MUST do this if you want to be free. Continuing to carry your anger and hurt like an Olympic torch ties everything up in that anger and hurt, not granting any room for the good things in life that could be coming to you with that energy. The hurt continues because YOU continue it – no one else. That’s a choice you ARE making each and every time you choose to think about the hurt, shunting important energetic processes to furthering your anger, not making you and your life happier. It’s as simple as that.
The longer you hold on to the grudge, the more (and intense) painful emotions you will experience, and the more damage you are inflicting on your body, long term health, wellness, and happiness. If you’re so busy being angry and resentful, WHAT are you giving of value to your life let alone those people who you want to be in your life? Eventually they don’t want the always on, always angry, you. It brings them down, man.
As Dr. Fred Luskin from Forgive For Good says: “THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFIT OF FORGIVENESS IS OUR ASSERTION THAT WE ARE NOT VICTIMS OF THE PAST.”
Forgiveness is the ‘Fin’ at the end of a film, the final seal on what happened that hurt you. You’ll still remember what happened, but you won’t be a prisoner any longer. Will it make you forget? No, but you won’t mind remembering. Confidence and self reliance are yours when you work through your difficult feelings and learn what you need to do to strengthen your boundaries and get your needs met.
Forgiveness means that you’ve decided there is to be no spite requite – you’re DECIDING to move on from the hurt, person, situation, etc. You’re giving up all claims to vengeance, you’re giving up all the nasty feelings. You’re DECIDING NOT TO DWELL ON THEM. You’re ACCEPTING that this DID happen, but it can’t be changed – the only change is from you. Are you going to dwell on it or something positive for yourself? Victimization pays REALLY poorly in the end. You lose YOURSELF.
Remember the movie Titanic? Of course you do. Even if you said you didn’t see it, everyone did. Remember when old Rose went to the railing of the research vessel? And then threw the precious, fictional, and priceless Heart of the Ocean blue diamond into the ocean, to be lost forever? That’s what deciding to forgive is. You’re letting go, and committing to not jumping over the side to rescue, your ‘precious’ and very personal hurts, getting yourself killed in the process. You’re deciding to focus on something else, making a commitment to do this. You can’t go back.
BASICALLY, FORGIVENESS COMES DOWN TO ONE THING – MOVING YOUR FOCUS AWAY FROM THE ANGER/GRUDGE/VICTIM MENTALITY/ICKY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS, AND ON TO SOMETHING ELSE – PREFERABLY POSITIVE AND GOOD FOR YOU, but at the very least NOT NEGATIVE. IT’S ABOUT YOU, AND WHERE YOU ARE – head and physical space. YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON SOMETHING ELSE.
HOW you go about this depends upon you. But responsibility, self control, and practice, practice, practice is all part of forgiveness. You PRACTICE peace and forgiveness until it’s rote to you, just like you did with your anger. NO ONE SAID IT WOULD BE EASY, BUT IT IS WORTH IT.
Even if you think someone else’s anger IS personal and directed AT you, this is simply an illusion. THEIR anger is THEIR anger. You’re merely a TRIGGER for them, a trigger for THEIR UNRESOLVED issues. FYI, this ALSO APPLIES TO YOU. IT’S YOUR hurt, not theirs. They’ve only triggered it. Sometimes people do this unintentionally, sometimes they don’t. Even in those instances, they’re just trying to get a rise out of you FOR THEIR OWN sense of self worth (which was damaged A LONG time ago, and chances are, not by you.)
Where do you start? There is a lot of information on how we become angry, why to forgive and how good it is for us. In our experience and r-search here at CC, we’ve found that how to forgive generally involves, but is not limited to, the following concepts:
- Know what happened to you, and how it truly affects you. Don’t let someone else, especially the ‘perpetrator’ tell you how to feel or ‘what’ happened. Know for yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you you’re taking it too personally. This is a diminishment from others to the situation, and you.
- FEEL your feelings. Don’t let anyone else tell you they shouldn’t be there or you’re too sensitive. If they shouldn’t have been there, they wouldn’t be. You need to deal with them regardless if they SHOULD be there or not!
- Recognize that your distress is coming from the thoughts that you have about what happened. Your thoughts are within your control. It’s how you think about something that determines how things go.
- Look at your responsibility for the situation: You’re part in what happened, and you’re part in keeping it alive. Dr. Fred Luskin, from Forgive For Good, has a wonderful definition: “Responsibility only means we are the one in control of our emotional and behavioral reactions.”
- FOCUS ON SOMETHING ELSE. DIVERT THIS ENERGY YOU’VE BEEN GIVING FROM THE NEGATIVE, WHICH IS BRINGING MORE of the BAD TO YOU, into looking for ways to achieve your goals. TRANSMUTE THIS ENERGY – INTO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE FOR YOU. You have to make your own business. Get busy with your What do you want to concentrate on? DO IT! If it makes you feel good, do it. Get BUSY doing it. You are setting out on a river and you control how fast and where you want to go, choose, and re-choose again later if you need to, YOUR right flow and cast off the way you want to, without worrying about how others are doing it and if they should help you to cast off or not. You have everything you need in your own little boat as they do, even the pretty paint to make your boat more beautiful.
- When you notice yourself continuously reliving the negative experiences and getting upset, practice stress reduction techniques to calm yourself. Your goal here is to focus on something else, getting your mind away from and off of the negative feelings that are feeding each other Miracle Grow.
- Just for S&G’s, try to look at it from their perspective. (Not for THEM, but better living through clarity and understanding for you) Are they Dr. Evil? Is it their mission in life to cause suffering and pain? Chances are not, though it may feel that way to you. (For far too many in our world, sadly it is the case, however.) And chances are they’re interpreting their reality through their own ‘foggy’ lens. As Dr. Hannibal Lechter says in Silence of the Lambs: “He wasn’t born a monster, Clarice. He was made one.” Does everyone have responsibility for their actions? Of course, but no one has any idea what battles are really being fought, and with whom or what, inside each person. LOOKING AT THIS PERSPECTIVE IS NOT FOR THEM. IT’S FOR YOU TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR HURT, IS NOT THEIR HURT, NOR ARE YOU NECESSARILY THEIR PERSONAL TARGET. YOU HAPPENED TO BE THERE, MUCH LIKE A SCRATCHING POST.
- It’s hard to give up that mantel of righteousness, to ‘let them get away with it,’ but try to disengage from the ego. Unless it’s a life or death situation, taking advice, particularly angry advice from the ego is a no no. The ego is like a creepy guy who always wants you do heroin, and you’re like, “Whoa! Heroin, dude?” But one self righteous offense taken, and the ego has you. You need your fix – the heroin like thoughts of victimization and ensuing rage and hate that comes from that thinking – from your dealer pal, the ego. Take the reins back from the ego and have the ‘discipline,’ to keep your mind turned toward the positive. News flash: The ego is only out for itself, and most times will leave you high and dry when it gets you into trouble. Yeah, it has a bit of the Mr. Hyde in it.
- Take your power back by enjoying a new and improved mindset – one that recognizes your needs, sees to them, and forges on, despite the ‘wrongs’ done to you. Not a victim!
- Forgiveness is a PROCESS. Let me say it again. Forgiveness is a process. And it takes as long as it takes. Keep practicing it – shifting focus to you and the good – and the process becomes easier to master. The energy you tied up over the anger can now be used for other things. Choose wisely for yourself. It takes strength to commit to forgiveness and not give in to the anger, the self righteousness, the victim mentality. Take responsibility for yourself. See also #6.
Find a technique that SPEAKS TO YOU. Even the ‘deadly’ sin of pride, can be helpful here. If you’re particularly prideful, USE THAT! (Just not too much of it – enough for a good bootstrap up!) You have too much pride to be viewed/seen as a victim that can’t move past old hurts, and the thought that ‘they’ won is enough to make you swoon. Not wanting to be seen as weak, you don’t LET it get to you, and redirect your focus inwards, on your skills and goals. Unusual? Probably, but find or develop your own techniques for refocusing your attention. Redirect and focus like a laser beam on YOUR goals, on the good already in your life, and the positive in all life. Until you no longer need to redirect and focus on the positive – it’s second nature.
(As mentioned, Dr. Fred Luskin’s book, Forgive For Good, is an excellent source of information on forgiveness, including specific techniques.)
So, when ‘they’ say forgive and forget, it’s partially true. It’s more like, forgive, and focus on something else/don’t ruminate or it’ll eat you alive. That type of thing. It’s not forgetting what happened, it’s forgetting to think about it all the time and giving your precious energy to shite. Don’t dwell, let it go. And make a commitment to let it go. Be Rose in Titanic and fling the Star of India into the ocean forever. LET IT GO. Forgive, and forget to think about it all the time.
Who should you start with? YOU, of course! Chances are if you’re angry enough to seek ways to forgive, then you’re probably number one on your list.
You know what areas need to be healed, what areas you don’t want to think about because of uncomfortable feelings such as hurt, fear, and shame. Cut yourself a break, and forgive yourself. You make mistakes, it’s natural. Hopefully learn, and move on. Stop continually playing them in your head, defining yourself this way. THAT’S NOT YOU. Try to be nice to yourself, and get to know yourself. Who you really are, and not who you’re playing. Maybe you’re not as nice as you think because you’ve been looking for approval and acceptance all your life and ‘being nice,’ was one major way that helped you, at least temporarily. And that’s fine you’re not Pollyanna Sunshine, just don’t go Jack The Ripper.
Then consider forgiving your parents/family of origin, spouse, friends, children, etc. It may be a long list, but one worth going over again and again – practicing forgiveness. Looking at it (or them) from a different perspective, gives a chance to a situation, or person, that you might want to keep in your life – Or a clarity to decide if you want out of your life. It’s really UP TO YOU once you see things for how they ARE, not how you WANT or wish them to be.
One aspect of love is SEEING the other person, for ALL of their spots, and claws, and other not so nice sides to them, and looking over it, not ignoring it. You know what I mean here. You have some friends, or relatives, that can do – practically– anything to you and all you do is laugh and maybe shake your head, are at most miffed, but you get over it, and still go on being their friend. You don’t dwell on it. You know what they are, and act accordingly in the relationship, not expecting or looking for any more than they ARE. Most other people would get a kick in the ass from you. Find elements from this that you can relate to and perhaps apply.
It’s how you think about something that determines how things go.
Forgiving is as unique as every individual. This is a VERY personal thing, and unless something resonates with you, it probably won’t work. If it’s not here, and believe me this is NOT all inclusive, then PLEASE do just a little research on forgiveness techniques – general and specific – and find one or two that speak to you, then go from there. It will do nothing but benefit YOU. Pinky swear.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi