Forgiveness is a hot topic when we do grief work, or any time really.
There is often unfinished business in relationships of all kinds that involves the way we’ve been hurt by the actions or words of others, or by what others did not say or do. Sometimes these are perceived hurts based on incorrect interpretations of what happened or by what we assumed people meant.
Regardless of how we were hurt we often unwittingly carry that pain for a long time, easily triggered by unrelated events.
We may be well aware that we need to forgive other’s transgressions but can be quite reluctant to do so because of some of the connotations involved with the very idea of forgiveness. Sometimes there is a belief that to forgive is to condone another’s hurtful actions, making what they did OK when it clearly is not. Sometimes we believe we ‘should’ forgive because our religion or our culture tells us that’s what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. Sometimes we think we have to feel it before we can do it. That can be pretty challenging since forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s an action.
I have studied and read and heard about many techniques, concepts and reasons why we should forgive but none of them have made as much sense to me as the Grief Recovery Method’s explanation.
When we are invited to forgive what we are really doing is making a commitment to ourselves not to let whatever happened hurt us any more. Please read that again. We forgive not for the other but for ourselves. We forgive because we are tired of hurting. We forgive because we deserve to be let off the hook of resentment and anger and blame. We forgive to be free.
I often invite people to not even use the word forgive because it’s too loaded. Say instead, ‘I acknowledge that (fill in the blank) hurt me, and I’m not going to let it hurt me any more.’ Be as specific as possible with what you perceive has hurt you, acknowledge the pain and the suffering, then make the commitment to yourself that you aren’t going to let it hurt you any more! If the old thoughts and feelings should show up again remind yourself as often as you need to that you’re done with that, you aren’t going to let it hurt you anymore.
Aah, that’s freedom. Feel the lightness of being when you care for yourself enough to not allow old hurts to keep you imprisoned. Then notice all those wonderful things in your life that you’re grateful for.
Namaste my friends!