“Forgiveness means that we choose to Love. Love MORE than we choose to hate or hurt.”
Among all the ways of counseling I offer, I also offer family therapy to families to heal from issues that are eating away at their core happiness. In one such recent session, there was SO much negativity coming out of every member of the family, which was making the whole atmosphere very very tense. The key was ofcourse a past event that had triggered and hurt many of the members of the family. After gently proposing “forgiveness with love” of self and all those involved…and applying it, I could see the whole family calm down. But, forgiveness is a hard pill to swallow.
I often get asked, “But how can I forgive, when it hurts so much?”
At some point in time, most of us have been in this position. We recognize some pattern or behavior in ourselves or others, that we would like to change, but often feel powerless to do so. Everything we try seems to lead nowhere.
Have you been in this situation?
As we begin to understand by probing deeper into the source of this behavior, we can often link the behavior to some past event or experience in our lives. In some cases, it is the result of a single traumatic event, whether that be a betrayal, an injury, an attack or a perceived injustice. In others, it is the result of mental, emotional or physical abuse that has occurred over and extended period of time. However, understanding the source of the behavior is not always enough to change it. If we are unable to release our anger, pain and fear, all of the baggage that we carry as a result of this past experience, we remain stuck, and continue to allow these past experiences to shape our future in ways that aren’t always healthy and often create more pain and suffering in our lives.
So what is forgiveness & why is it so hard to forgive and move on?
For many of us, it is a misconception of what forgiveness really means. A common message in our culture is that you should just “forgive and forget”, implying that to forgive means to forget about it, like it never happened. I personally struggled with this concept for many years. To me, to forget how I had been betrayed, abused or injured by someone or something in the past, didn’t exactly seem like a wise idea. To forget that it ever happened, would mean that I hadn’t learned anything, that I was likely to repeat the experience again.
Fortunately, I did learn that true forgiveness was something quite different than what I had been led to believe by the messages I had received from the world I lived in. You do not have to forgive and forget. Its okay to remember what happened. But you dont want to go around carrying the heavy burden of being angry, bitter and resentful for the rest of your life either. For example once you learn that if you touch a hot stove you can get burned, you are not likely to do it again. You learn something from the experience, to exercise more caution while working around a hot stove. And, you don’t blame the stove for being hot. It is what it is. And, you don’t go around for years holding onto a grudge against the stove because you got burned. Well, you can, but its not very productive is it?? Its the same thing with people. Learn from our experience and move on.
What does it mean to truly forgive someone?
To forgive someone does not mean that whatever harm or hurt that they caused you was not inappropriate. It means that you will no longer allow the past to have a hold on your life today; that you are willing to release the hurt and the pain; that you no longer wish to be tied to the experience or the person connected to the experience in a negative way; that you are releasing both yourself and the person you need to forgive from a tie that holds you both back; that you wish to be free. When I finally understood this I was able to begin the process of forgiveness. On a side note, forgiveness does not always equal, “Welcome back into my life”, to the person who has betrayed, harmed or abused you. Sometimes it can, and that can be a good thing. However, there are times when it is neither wise nor prudent to do so. But you can still free yourself from the burden of pain, anger, fear, hate, bitterness and resentment either way.
Forgiveness is about release, releasing ourselves from those self-imposed limitations and self-defeating behavior patterns that tie us to the past in negative ways. Forgiveness is releasing our anger, fear, pain and resentment and opening our hearts to joy, peace and love. Yes, others may have done things that have hurt or harmed us, and they are responsible for those action. But these individuals are not responsible for how we live the rest of our lives. We are responsible for that. How we respond to these past events and what we carry into our present and our future is entirely up to us and no one else. If we allow the past to negatively affect how we live the rest of our lives, the choices we make, our relationships and our behavior patterns, that is our choice and responsibility not that of the original offender.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself – the gift of freedom.
THE “HEALING THROUGH FORGIVENESS” SERIES
By no means is the topic of forgiveness a simple one to handle or apply. While we learned how important forgiveness is to our own healing in this article, there are still many many facets to truly reach that space of complete healing. This series is my attempt to help you reach that space of complete healing. So, this is the first post in a series of posts on Healing through Forgiveness. In the next post I will give you practical ways you can use daily to forgive and release all past pains and scars, in order to emerge fully healed. Please subscribe(click here) and stay updated of the latest in this series and more!
But till then, I urge you to start saying this Healing affirmation. This will work as a softener for your heart, so that forgiveness becomes easier for you to practice and heal from.
A Positive Healing Affirmation you can use to Forgive & Release:
“I forgive all souls and embrace them with Love and compassion.”
Remember to write or say this affirmation at least 10X daily for 40 days. It takes 40 days to impress upon the unconscious “reacting” mind all that you desire and dream. Then it becomes automatic behavior in the conscious “acting” mind. Affirmations are the same as doing any type of repetitive exercise to change or learn a new behavior.
Now its YOUR turn: What does forgiveness mean to you? Has forgiveness healed you in the path of letting go?
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With Immense Love & Gratitude,
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10 thoughts on “Forgive to Truly Heal : Healing Through Forgiveness Series, Part 1”
Loved this post Zeenat! Agree with your definition of forgiveness. It reminded me of the famous and one of my fav quote by Lewis B Smedes “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”
I love this thought in particular: ” …you don’t want to go around carrying the heavy burden of being angry, bitter and resentful.” I try to forgive right away so that those nasty states of mind don’t hang around. Thanks for this inspiration, Zeenat.
This is a great perspective on forgiveness Zeenat. I really like your reminder that it’s not about forgiving and forgetting, and forgiveness is for you as much as for the other person.
Zen I appreciate the idea of freeing ourselves from the pain in the past. It is freeing and empowering to do so. Thanks for this insightful perspective on forgiveness.
I love this definition of forgiveness. “We choose to love more than it hurts.”
I always remind myself that there is no need for forgiveness where judgment does not first exist. I know my feelings are about me and my perception. Forgiveness is only a requirement of the ego mind, focused on separation.
When our minds are closed, we miss out on a world of possibility and we limit our imaginations to what we have chosen. What a narrow existence that is. And when we let go of our idea of what life “should” be, we open ourselves up to serendipity and to what life “could” be. As we open, we welcome possibility, and in possibility, there is great capacity for love. Possibility is about living in the now. When we live in the now, we bring our greatest resource into responding. We bring our Light.
Everybody is always doing the best they can, whether we see this so or not, and whether they disappoint us or not. This can be hard to accept when we’ve seen them do better. But in every instance where a different choice is made, some other element is either present that was not there before, or missing, that had been there. So, literally, in each instance, we give the best we have in that moment based on our mind’s perception and the feelings that drive us.
Acknowledging that we’re all doing the best we can doesn’t let us off the hook, we still have to live with the repercussions of our choices. And we don’t have to like someone’s behaviour to love them. Even if we decide that a relationship isn’t what we want the way it exists, we can let go of anger, blame, and sadness, and send a silent offering to the Universe wishing them well.
We are all responsible for the energy we bring to the world. It is only our own actions for which we must hold ourselves accountable. When we lead with Love, every single happenstance becomes an opportunity to tune our awareness and to allow others to do the same. As we lead with Love, we draw back the veil to welcome the Light.
Love love love this definition of forgiveness, Zeenat: “It means that you will no longer allow the past to have a hold on your life today; that you are willing to release the hurt and the pain; that you no longer wish to be tied to the experience or the person connected to the experience in a negative way; that you are releasing both yourself and the person you need to forgive from a tie that holds you both back; that you wish to be free.”
Zeenat, thank you for this post and the series you are going to be sharing on forgiveness. I found it to be very helpful – and your sensitivity around how hard it is to forgive feels genuine. I can tell you truly care. Thank you.
What a powerful, powerful , message. ABSOLUTELY yes! Let’s grow more love by cultivating forgiveness for the sake our own sanity and that of the world 🙂 Keep shining your light sister !!! Keep shining.
What a beautiful post Zeenat filled with inspiring messages about the power of forgiveness. I often do a meditation breathing in love and forgiveness and breathing out love and forgiveness. I have found I must start with myself and extend love and compassion inward to authentically express it outwardly. Thank you so much!
I just want to say thanks. It’s amazing how someone can touch so many
Iives like you are doing with your posts!
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