To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. — Lewis B. Smedes
What does forgiveness mean to you? 🙂
Sometimes there is a little bit of confusion around it. Forgiveness is not condoning a behavior, pretending nothing bad ever happened. It does not even mean hanging out with the person who hurt us, if we do not feel to. Forgiveness, instead, is an internal shift that takes place when we fully accept what happened in the past and decide to move on, releasing all the emotional attachment that kept us stuck in anger or pain. We do not choose to forgive for the other person, but primarily for ourselves, to be emotionally free 🙂
Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. — Lily Tomlin
Forgiveness is a process, it does not happen all at once and it cannot be forced. It may require months or even years to get through all the waves of emotions. It is important to accept and allow them enough space. If you do not know how to handle all these feelings, in How to Deal with Difficult Emotions? Say Yes to What Is in you can find a practice that can help you.
Even though we cannot control or force it, it is fundamental to be willing to forgive. This way we keep our heart open while going through the process.
You cannot will forgiveness, but you can be willing to forgive. — Tara Brach
How can we forgive someone who hurt us?
Tara Brach, a well-known meditation teacher and psychologist, recommends doing a U-turn: Instead of blaming them in reactivity, pause and look inside yourself. Why do you feel hurt? Where is your wound? What is hidden behind the anger that you feel? Maybe fear? Or shame? What does it need from you, right now?
If this investigation is too painful for you to do alone, look for a therapist or a meditation teacher that can guide you through it.
Another important step in forgiving someone who hurt you is feeling compassion towards them. They acted the way they did because they were suffering themselves.
No one can act beyond their level of consciousness. — Eckart Tolle
Once again, this has nothing to do with condoning their behavior. By understanding the bigger picture you allow yourself to let go of resentment. Tara Brach often uses the following analogy. Imagine that, while walking in the woods, you meet a dog. When you get closer to pet it, it starts growling and lunging at you. You initially react with fear and anger, but soon after you notice that the dog has its leg caught in a trap. Then, your internal state shifts immediately and you start to feel compassion towards the dog.
If you are struggling with forgiving someone, you can try the following meditation 🙂
Close your eyes and bring to mind a person that did something hurtful. Someone you are willing to forgive. Start with something not too intense. Now imagine that they are standing right in front of you. Smile at them and tell them why you are grateful. What did they teach you? Maybe now you know what you do not want. Or they allowed you to know yourself better. Once you are done, tell them Now I need to focus on myself. I forgive you and I let you go. Imagine the other person smiling back at you, turning around and walking away from you. Look at them while they move further and further away. Then give yourself love, for example by putting your hands on your heart or hugging yourself.
Repeat this meditation often, as long as you feel that there is still something inside you that needs to be release. If you are not yet ready to forgive them, start by telling them Now I need to focus on myself. I am willing to forgive you and I let you go.
Thinking that people are supposed to do or be anything other than what they are is like saying that the tree over there should be the sky. I investigated that and found freedom. — Byron Katie
At a deeper level lies self-forgiveness. Have you done something that hurt you? Or are you suffering because you hurt someone else? How can you let this pain go?
To release the guilt and the pain you can try the following 🙂
Close your eyes and put your hands on your heart. Now bring to mind the person you are asking forgiveness to (it can also be yourself). Repeat over and over the following sentences, taken from the Ho’oponopono, an Hawaiian forgiveness ritual:
I am sorry
Please forgive me
I love you
Repeat this meditation often. Notice what feelings arise in you while practicing and allow all of them to be there.
Another possibility is writing a letter to yourself or another person where you ask for forgiveness. This allows you to become aware of your feelings, while putting them on paper. You do not need to send the letter, if it does not feel right to you.
Remember that, even if the other person does not forgive you, you can always forgive yourself, by accepting what you did and releasing the emotions that you still carry inside 🙂
Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it. ― Maya Angelou
Loving kindness (or metta) meditation is a very useful practice that you can cultivate in your daily life to keep your heart open and, thus, be more willing to forgive yourself and others. If you want to try it out, you can find all the details and an example in How To Get Started with Mindfulness Meditation: Some Ideas to Help You Establish Your Own Practice 🙂
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. — Maya Angelou
To conclude, in this short video Oprah Winfrey and the well-known author Eckart Tolle discuss about how forgiveness is key to our personal freedom 🙂
There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges–the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light. ― Eckhart Tolle
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2 thoughts on “Do You Want to Be Free? Forgive”
Giulia, I learn from you all the time and yes this post was helpful…I’ve been ruminating on an unpleasant event but feeling better/less upset the past day or two. I have often acknowledged that the person is in a bad place but it was while reading your post, I was able to do the “u-turn” and understand why I felt hurt and understand myself and my needs better. Thank you! Le grà, Marie xx
Hi Marie! I am so glad that you found it helpful 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment 🙂 ❤
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