The Healing Salve of Forgiveness

The Healing Salve of Forgiveness

The Bitter Pill

Healing Salve of Forgiveness

Hello you Gandhi-like Group and Giving Forgivers!!

What Kind of a forgiver are you?

Let’s talk about Forgiveness. Why is it so hard to do?

Forgiveness is a misunderstood notion. When I discuss forgiveness with my clients, there is usually a load of resistance and a need to express to me how I must not REALLY understand what happened or I would be recommending they beat the crap out of the offender, NOT forgive them!

Trust me, forgiveness is for “us” not necessarily for “them”.

The most common misconception about forgiveness is that two people are required for it to work. This is not true!

We can forgive people who are no longer here or with whom we no longer have contact.

Forgiving is all about you. Holding anger or releasing it occurs in your mind. How do you want to feel? What do you want taking up space in your brain/body? It’s your choice. Forgiveness is not condoning the actions of the other party. It is not rolling over and giving up. It is not giving in or losing anything. Forgiveness is the healthy thing to do to free YOU from resentment prison. It may not be easy but worth the effort.

Gandhi said:

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

(..continues below the video)

Forgiveness will change your life experience…

People hurt us in a zillion ways big and small. Whether you are dealing with being betrayed by your spouse or cut off in traffic, you must decide to ruminate or forgive. I see forgiving as letting go of something toxic or as one of my clients would instruct, “Bless and release”.

A very important aspect of being able to forgive is having your feelings understood and witnessed by an empathic other.

I teach my clients a burning ritual to release resentment. Think of an unresolved injury in your life and then write an unedited letter to the offending party (living or dead), pouring out how the experience made you feel and the ramifications it had in other areas of your life. You are creating a comprehensive narrative, where the facts and the feelings co exist, to share with a safe and trusted confidant. The witness should not comment or react (no gasping please). Their job is to be an active and sympathetic listener only. Then go to a safe place and burn the letter releasing it back into the universal energy and out of your body. Affirm I AM FREE …and feel it.

Forgiveness research gives us some scientifically based information about why forgiving is good for you-mind, body and spirit. Elizabeth Scott M.S (from About.com) writes about a study done by Behavioral Medicine that found forgiveness to be associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as stress relief.

A different study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that forgiveness not only restores positive thoughts, feelings and behaviors towards the offending party but the benefits of forgiveness spill over to positive behavior towards others outside of that relationship. It is also associated with more volunteerism, donating to charity and other altruistic behaviors. The converse is true for non-forgiveness. So it is clear that holding onto resentment has far-reaching negative ramifications for life quality.

So now that we have established the why, let’s get down to the how. After your letter writing/burning exercise consider the following condensed version of The 8 Steps of How to Let Go and Forgive courtesy of Leo Babauta from the amazing website www.zenhabits.com.

1

Commit to letting go

You aren’t going to do it in a second or maybe not even in a day. It can take time to get over something. So commit to changing, because you recognize that the pain is hurting you.

2

Think about the pros and cons

What problems does this pain cause you? Does it cause you unhappiness? Think of the benefits of forgiveness — how it will make you happier, free you from the past and the pain, improve things with your relationships and life in general.

3

Realize you have a choice

You cannot control the actions of others, and shouldn’t try. But you can control not only your actions, but also your thoughts. You can stop reliving the hurt, and can choose to move on. You have this power.

4

Empathize

Try this: Put yourself in that person’s shoes. Try to understand why the person did what he did. Start from the assumption that the person isn’t a bad person, but just did something wrong.

5

Understand Your Responsibility

Try to figure out how you could have been partially responsible for what happened. What could you have done to prevent it, and how can you prevent it from happening next time? This isn’t to say you’re taking all the blame, or taking responsibility away from the other person, but to realize that we are not victims but participants in life.

6

Focus on the present

Now that you’ve reflected on the past, realize that the past is over. It isn’t happening anymore, except in your mind. And that causes problems — unhappiness and stress. Instead, bring your focus back to the present moment. What joy can you find in what is happening right now?

7

Allow peace to enter your life

As you focus on the present, try focusing on your breathing. Imagine each breath going out is the pain and the past, being released from your body and mind. And imagine each breath coming in is peace, entering you and filling you up. Release the pain and the past. Let peace enter your life. And go forward, thinking no longer of the past, but of peace and the present.

8

Feel compassion

Finally, forgive the person and realize that in forgiveness, you are allowing yourself to be happy and move on.


Being healthy is not always easy but always worth the effort…

I will close with an Oscar Wild quote that made me laugh because it is so true.

Always forgive your enemies –nothing annoys them as much.”

You know I am here to help.

Go make Gandhi proud and please share your winning formula for forgiving in the comments below.

Love Love Love,

Terri

12 Comments

  1. I LOVE it – posted for all,
    I am a pretty good forgiver actually despite getting acutely hurt to easily because I am stunned because seems often people do not care or act as I do. I have often wondered Can one can forgive and accept someone. Love them to the point of being abused? How often? How much is to much?
    turn your cheek…. love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them….
    The girls in grade school were so mean. Made fun of me. Kicked spit tripped me it was rough I realize now I was pretty and seriously shy which is why but I finally started pushing them back and actually remember thinking sorry God..
    Forgiven and friends eventually because I became cool in their eyes. But in the back of my mind I think of them doing it. It is stored. I was the one to help them when their mother suddenly died and other events all their other ‘friends’ were to busy to help them. 70 x 7 ? I couldn’t I do not think I am capable.

    Reply
  2. forgiveness in the end is the key to most ailments. love this thank u for this terri!

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  3. That was great. Very smart and to the point. Remarkable to think of all the energy expended holding grudges. Take it from the individual to the national and you have one of the main reasons for wars.

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    • yes babe-so many better things to do with that energy ;)
      xo

      Reply
  4. Ahhhh but kyle forgiveness is NOT about tolerating abuse but you bring up a great point. the poison that stays with you from these experiences hurts you and only you when not released. Not to be confused with forgiving and then living in Ground Hog day hell of repetition. So if you have people in your life now who treat you badly then it is time to draw boundaries, clean house, stand up and make different choices…and then forgive them so you my beautiful amazing angel of a friend and spiritual sister CAN BE F*R*E*E!
    xo

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  5. I’m better at forgiving some things more than others; and there might not be much rhyme or reason to it, other than my own set of hot buttons. Sometimes a memory will surface about a relatively insignificant person from like 20 years ago–like an old co-worker or even a stranger on the street; and I will remember how they done me dirty–even if it’s something I now consider to be minor or thought that I was well past–but somehow that person is still attached to the infraction. This stuff does take up a lot of energy and inner storage space–even if I’m not consciously aware of it. And admittedly, sometimes there’s even a certain satisfaction in forever banishing someone to hell and keeping them on my shit list. Often times though, I can correlate some of what I can’t let go of with things I haven’t forgiven in myself. It’s kind of a convoluted filing system that presents it’s self for regular cleaning and reorganization. If that makes any sense…..

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    • andi-
      pretty profound insight into the workings of your mind! so when one of those buggers comes up-do me a favor and breathe straight into it and release it or write them all down and burn them!! if you do it come back and tell us what shifts…i bet some space with be freed up for SOMETHING BETTER!
      xo

      Reply
  6. Terri ~ I’m an awesome forgiver…with one exception ~ forgiving myself! Thanks to the likes of Pema Chodron, Marianne Williamson and our Spirit Junkie friend Gabby Bernstein, I’m working on that, though, and have come a far way to accepting my perfectly imperfect self, past mistakes and all. (Yes, mistakes, because we all make ‘em, part of being human and not a machine. I’m fine with the fact others make mistakes, so what would make me think that I would be above making a few of my own?) Indeed, my journey has been bumpy but has only added to my sense of compassion and my desire to live a life of service. Turning all of that inward and caring for myself with the same compassion and loving-kindness I extend to others is where I am now. I think you (and Ghandi) would approve. That being said, I think your post is a great walk-through on forgiveness and I think it’s a huge topic for many, many people to overcome for their own sake.I love it and am happy to tweet about it, too. Just give me a shout @NancyTWS. Love/Light/Laughter ~ Nancy

    Reply
    • Words that warm my heart Nancy! Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Your work is paying off and yes please be as kind to YOU as you would a child you LOVE. I will call on you to join my ambassador team in the near future if you are up for it! Spreading love and light is a tough biz and every diva needs an army of angels <3
      love love love
      tc

      Reply
      • Terri Nancy’s points sound like it would make a great upcoming blog post or maybe an “Ask Terri” episode. Forgiving oneself can certainly be an issue. I have one particular situation that still pains me to date, it’s a memory of being really unfair and cruel to my baby brother (when I was 11 and he was 6) for what was in retrospect such a small, just a kid’s mistake. :(

        Reply
        • ky-
          good point about self forgiveness as a topic most people struggle with. as for you, find an 11 year old that you love or know and look at that child and realize-he is just a child and release your attachment to the past. actively ask your brother for forgiveness, write the incident on a paper and burn it outside-feeling the experience leaving your body and you declare out loud your intention to set yourself free.

          we all deserve the generosity and kindness we extend to others endlessly xo

          Reply

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