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 didn’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 other life trauma. I’ve learned enough, though, 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.
1. Forgiveness is all about you. Forgiveness is not centered on the person who hurt us. It doesn’t pardon the person or the after-effects of whatever trauma we’ve endured. It puts the point of focus on us and the invisible chains that are still binding us to what happened.
2. Forgiveness is about freeing your energy. Forgiveness isn’t something we do. It’s a process of release, of letting go. When we free our minds from focusing on what happened and what justice should look like, we free our thoughts, energy, and actions to engage in the present moment. The more energy we have in the present moment, the more power we have to move forward in the direction we choose.
3. 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. We have to be open to learning how deeply and fully we can let go.
4. 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.
5. Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the need for boundaries. We can practice forgiveness in relation to a past trauma or abuse. But that doesn’t mean that we allow ourselves to continue to be exposed to the hurtful situation or place ourselves in a position where we’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 we 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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