Forgiveness is releasing ourselves from the hope that things could have been different. Forgiveness opens the possibility of being at peace, unlocking us from pain or bitterness. Forgiveness does not require that we continue harmful relationships; rather, it allows us to completely untether from the person who hurt us when that is the most compassionate and self-protective action.
But what if you can’t forgive?
I wanted to kick off this blog by extolling the virtues of forgiveness. Every faith agrees that forgiveness is the seat of liberation. It allows us to be fully present at the moment, rather than stuck in the past. However, try as I might, I just can’t muster up the energy to write a big soaring blog on something I’m still having trouble with.
The truth is, sometimes forgiveness feels impossible. Have you been there? Are you there now? Is there someone in your life that no matter how hard you try, how many books you read, or how many lectures or workshops you attend, you still can’t forgive? Are you tough on yourself for that? Me too.
Today I want to talk about what we can do if we’re not quite ready or able to let go. And I’m really interested in your thoughts too. Because there’s nothing worse than feeling stuck.
Forgiveness doesn’t only resolve our past, it alleviates our fear of the future. When we hold onto thoughts, memories, or traumas, we’re unconsciously attempting to protect ourselves from experiencing that pain again. It can be a complicated process that takes time (not a prescription pill you pop to make it all better). As someone who’s lived with chronic disease for almost 2 decades, I’ve learned that sometimes there are no shortcuts. Forgiveness takes a similar kind of loving patience and the ability to accept where we are right now. All healing happens in the right season. It can’t be rushed. Please don’t yell at your kale.
Forgiveness comes easy when you know that what people say or do is about them, it’s not about you. –Kim Kings
Shift the focus, feel the pain and think of the thousands of others in the world who are also feeling the same pain, then send a loving-kindness message to everyone to be relieved of this suffering.
When it happens I often ask myself “What strengths must I develop further from this?” Often the feeling of resentment just goes away, slowly but surely, because I wasn’t focusing on the person that wronged me, but on the lesson that the event was trying to tell me. –Natassia Callista Alicia
Write a brutally honest, emotionally raw letter telling them how much they have hurt and angered you, then tear it up and burn it. As you watch the smoke rise, think about the fact that you are not that hurt and that anger. It is fleeting, just like everything else. As the smoke carrying your hurt and disappointment disappears into the air, you can let it go. –Renate Wuersig
Understand this: Whether you like it or not, over time, you will stop feeling the pain, so why hold onto something that’s going to go away anyway?
How did I forgive when it was hard? I came to this realization: No one ever gets to the end of their life and thinks, “I wish I stayed angry longer.” They generally say one of three things: “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you,” or “I love you.”
After taking space to heal myself, I decided to cut out the middleman of time. I now set boundaries to take better care of myself, but I’ll never regret that I’ve forgiven.