Ahhh….Forgiveness. What does it mean? How do we really do it? Does it take a long time? Are others really worthy of our forgiveness? I can tell you that I have had my share of feeling anger, abandoned, hurt, betrayed, disappointed, beaten down…the list goes on and on. Because these feelings were so intense and were sitting so deeply inside of me, it took over both myself and my life for many years. I wasn’t even aware that I was feeling all of these emotions because rather than feeling them, I decided that it was better to deny them and mask them with thoughts like
“I am strong”
“Feeling my pain will only create more pain”
“I can get through anything”
“It’s not safe to feel my emotions”
“I’ll just be positive”
and the best one of all…
"I should just feel grateful"
When my external life began to reflect more and more of my internal pain, I had no choice but to surrender to my real feelings and with the right support, I gave myself permission to authentically feel all that I was carrying within me. This powerful process enabled me to open up to countless insights. Here are just a few of them.
The most loving thing we can do for ourselves is own and feel what we are truly experiencing so that we can release the old energy and free ourselves to welcome in new energy. Pretending, denying and ignoring parts of ourselves in an attempt to be "strong" only sends ourselves the message that we aren’t worthy of our own attention.
We must know that we are worthy of our own attention before we offer it to anyone else. It’s not a selfish act, it’s a self-honoring act of love. The more we can be courageous enough to validate what we are truly feeling instead of looking for comfort outside of ourselves by engaging in behaviors such as unhealthy relationships, unfulfilling jobs, food, shopping, money, drugs, alcohol etc, the more we will begin to witness our world transform from fear to fulfillment.
Feeling our pain helps us realize that the one that we believe hurt, betrayed or abandoned us was actually the one that is feeling the most hurt. We can never do to others what we aren’t actually experiencing within ourselves. This is just truth. Take it or leave it.
Feeling our pain helps us to find compassion for the person that we believe has caused us pain. This allows our once closed and rigid heart to soften and open. We begin to see that this person is really the one that is in need of the most love.
The most powerful realization of all is that we realize the only one we ever truly needed to forgive was ourselves. We are the center of our entire existence. We are the common denominator in all of our experiences. Getting truly honest with ourselves allows us to choose what to feel, how we choose to perceive others and ourselves and how we will respond to every circumstance that comes our way. Forgiving ourselves for believing that another could actually take our power is so miraculously transformative. The truth is we only ever have power over who we choose to be and how we choose to respond. We get to decide this in every moment and when we forget…the only thing to do is say, “I forgive myself for forgetting that my power lives within me.”
So if you are feeling like you are being called to forgive, but are feeling resistant to it, stop trying. Forgiveness is a natural by-product of self-love. Begin with trusting yourself enough to acknowledging your own pain. Allow yourself to be hurt and feel all the emotions that are being triggered within you. You owe yourself that gift. This is truly where forgiveness begins. So often we forget to give ourselves permission to do this. We don't realize that the most challenging people in our lives are offering us the greatest gift - the gift of growth. They are truly opening the doorway that leads to our most empowered self. Often we just forget to walk through it. We are being offered an invitation to ask ourselves powerful questions about what we think and believe about ourselves. In the end, we will come to realize that nobody can ever actually do anything “to” us. They can only help us to see what we couldn’t see before. They are the catalyst to us awakening to our Spirit. Our pain and disappointment triggered by another can be a tremendous gift if we allow it and when we are willing to receive this gift, our pain transforms into power and our disappointment transforms into deep gratitude. And rather than having to say “I forgive you,” we will find ourselves saying, “Thank you.”