Forgiveness: Part 1
Forgiveness is a topic I've wanted to write about for quite some time.
So what’s the deal with forgiveness? Why does it seem to be a difficult thing for us to do? And, why do people so triggered by it? It seems even talking about it brings up a lot of stuff for many of us.
We know this basic truth - life is suffering. Hurt happens.
Sometimes by other people, sometimes by ourselves. We're all a bunch of life warriors with a lot of band aids covering our battle scars. We’re on the journey of life, and sometimes - it’s a bumpy one.
But there are markers for us along the way that can lead us to forgiveness - the gift we give to ourselves when we release resentment and anger about any hurt we have experienced.
The first sign post you may see on the path to forgiveness says “Rip Off The Band Aids”. You know how it goes - you put a bandaid on a wound and then a few days later it gets gross and wet and dirty from being worn around.
I offer this metaphor because what I mean is that we have to look at our wounds in order for them to heal. We have to quit ignoring that they’re there and expose them to the air.
The time has come my friends. The more we ignore our wounds, the more they will continue to infect our spirits and wreak havoc in our lives. No bueno.
Here’s a little sidestep fact about trauma (which is usually the cause of our wounds): our nervous systems are so incredibly responsive that when trauma strikes, we instinctively know to fight or fly away somewhere - or we play dead and freeze up to protect ourselves. Any of these are healthy survival responses. And yet, they’re not sustainable because the energy that wants to get released goes straight back into our bodies. Yuck.
Did you know that after animals experience trauma they run off and shake for a while to rid their bodies of the negative energy? Yeah. Animals are pretty rad. Humans? Well, we’re rad too, but we have different defense mechanisms that allow us to jump back into our work and daily lives. The problem is, we don't often come back to do the release work.
So when something traumatic happens, we often react but very rarely give ourselves the time to process and release all of that trauma.
Any energy that isn’t released gets stored in our bodies and we wind up with these internal gangrene-like emotional wounds that permeate our everything from our outlook on life to how we engage in our relationships. Ultimately, repressed trauma takes a toll on our overall health and well-being. This may be one of the many reasons why so many people are depressed and anxious and unhealthy.
Forgiveness, however, is like the magical healing salve we’ve all been waiting for.
Yet, people often avoid it and claim that “it’s hard”. I know I've said that. And I've also heard other people say things like: “But it’s hard to forgive my boss for being such a maniac and firing me like that”, or “it’s hard to forgive my dad/mom/family member/ex for treating me that way”. Or the worst scenario is when people shut themselves off to the possibility of forgiveness entirely with, dare I speak these words - “I can’t” or “I won’t”.
Hello dead-end road. You might as well drink poison while you’re at it because that’s what you're doing by holding onto resentment and anger. Trauma, anger and resentment are toxic to our bodies.
On the other hand, forgiveness is the antidote to that poison.
It's an essential ingredient to living a free, peaceful life unencumbered by what happened in the past, and available to creating new patterns that support our growth and promote our well-being.
You might be thinking, "well that's great, but how do I get my hands on this magic potion?" or "how do I forgive someone that hurt me?" or yet still, "how do I forgive MYSELF"?
Well, let the notion of forgiveness marinate in your heart for a little bit. Stay tuned for Part 2, as I will share my practices and tips on how to invite more forgiveness in your heart so you can begin to feel more peaceful, accepting, and at ease with your life.
In the meantime, I encourage you to love yourself - and at the very least offer yourself some kindness + kudos for considering the path toward forgiveness. You are a brave soul for journeying along your particular road in life.