Thoughts on Forgiveness

In recent years the concept of forgiveness has been all the rage. Sometimes it seems like a buzzword that equates to arriving at a holy place. When friends advise about difficult relations with others, the first question often is, can you forgive them? Say yes, and you’ll hear heavenly trumpets.

Is something wrong with you if forgiveness isn’t immediate? How easy is it to forgive yourself?

Forgiving is vital for living in the present and not blaming others for your feelings. For identifying places within yourself you need to pay attention to and accept. It’s important work and good work. And it requires something.

The holidays are a great time to contemplate forgiveness. In addition to turkey and ham, family gatherings offer a smorgasbord of emotions, feelings, and triggers, no matter your age or how much inner work you’ve accomplished. All mom, or fill in the relative, has to do is give you that one look or vocal tone, and off you go! Most of us have heard the sentiment by Ram Dass, “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.”

In the year-long Compassionate Inquiry training I’m enrolled in, the topic of forgiveness came up this past week.

Gabor defined forgiveness in a way I hadn’t heard before; immediately it struck me as a valuable and meaningful explanation. He presented the word’s original meaning, “to give up the power or desire to punish.”

Punishment can be subtle or blatant. It comes in many ways, shapes and forms. It can be as simple as not returning a phone call and as heinous as unleashing a torrent of anger. It can be an internal dialog, endless thought loops about being mistreated or addictive behavior including alcohol, drugs, working too much, sex, or gambling, compulsive actions that often stem from and at the same time reinforce self-loathing.

Carrying grievances hurts you.

Unless they are intentionally trying to hurt you (and that’s still about them), most people are unconscious of the effects of their actions on others and are not doing things on purpose. Recognizing this truth will shift your perspective. People’s behavior is often an attempt to ease their own suffering. I can identify times in the past when that’s true for me. I imagine you can, too.

Blaming others for how you feel only hurts yourself. The feelings and perceptions belong to you. Someone else would respond differently to the same input. That’s worth exploring. It’s been said, attributed to many different folks, “resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.” I remember the first time I heard it – powerful words.

Gabor asks, “Does the state your in constrict you?” It’s a great question. Does your approach to life, love and relationships constrict or expand your experience on earth? If you feel constricted by your thoughts, why keep thinking them? Why not make a conscious effort to change them? The only person you’re punishing is yourself. Getting curious is a great place to begin. Asking yourself questions and exploring the beliefs that keep you bound.

Ultimately, the most important person to forgive is yourself. Forgiving yourself is an act of self-love. It’s the best gift you can give yourself. It will change your life for real.

Taking the time to explore your inner world is where forgiveness begins.

This offering is a brushstroke on the process and action of forgiving. There is much more to say; thoughts and feelings to unpack. Consider this a spark to fuel deeper thinking.

Forgiveness means giving up the desire or power to punish, reclaiming the pieces of yourself that indict others instead of expanding your life and moving in a forward direction.

How exciting that it’s available to you.

I wish you a forgiving and beautiful holiday.

Hit me up if you would like assistance.

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