When we hold on to hurts and disappointments, regardless how “justified” we may be, deep down, we allow deep emotion-laden pockets of accrued bitterness, rage or hatred to build inside of us. Hating or resenting, as explained by American existential psychologist Rollo May, is a superficial way of soothing our pain and preserving our sense of personal power and dignity that gives away our power instead, declaring, “You have conquered me, but I reserve the right to hate you.”
~ The Power of Forgiveness: Restoring Own Connection to Love and Healing ~
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Somewhere along the line someone has said something. Done something. Or, did not do or say anything. We have experienced disappointment. Carry regret, resentment, and bitterness like a favorite blanket. Some type of offense (whether intentional or unintentional) has brought us to a place of discomfort, discontentment, and distress. We harbor anger, judgment, and criticism. Most of all, we harbor regret, shame, guilt, anger, disappointment, judgment, criticism, and discontentment toward our own sense of self. And when it is exposed – we are ready to cast our stones in condemnation. Instead, we need to move toward forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. This week the writing challenge is to open yourself up to see where you need to walk in forgiveness. Unless we are willing to take a fearless and moral inventory of our own hurts and hangups – we are unwilling to step out into freedom of love and truth.
The idea of forgiveness is not just rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview. It is rooted in all spiritual and religious worldviews. It is the idea of human experience and transcendence by which we free ourselves from wallowing in self-pity and victim-hood.
Forgiveness is part of our human experience and spiritual growth that frees us from self-pity and victimization #Forgiveness, #RadicalForgivenessTweet
When we walk in forgiveness toward self and others we are walking in liberty and freedom from the resentments, criticisms, judgments, and anger that creates toxicity in our hearts, minds, and souls.
Forgiveness Begins with Self-Awareness
Mindfulness brings us to a place of awareness. It brings us to a place to observe without judgment and criticism. Through a spiritually mindful lifestyle we become aware of our own shortcomings. Our own weaknesses. Unrealistic expectations. This awareness is something that we come to about who we are as individuals. It is not the awareness of others. Mindfulness brings us to a place of self-awareness of our own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, attitudes, and understanding. Without self-awareness, we are not able to operate in genuine and mindful forgiveness.
Stephen Edwards Arnold writes in his article – Forgiveness is a sign of Self-Awareness:
Early Christians were able to understand this idea of self-awareness easily due to the Law from Judaism. The Law, as Paul explains so eloquently in his letter to the Romans, was designed to reveal your sin, or for my purposes, make your self-awareness to your need for forgiveness. The early Christians knew this idea intimately, they understood their need for mercy, they were self-aware (of their thoughts and actions), so they forgave freely. No strings attached.
This self-awareness is beget by becoming aware of one’s true sense of self. Without understand who we are and what we value, our sense of self-awareness may be shallow and weak. Having a true awareness of who we are, what we value, and what sense of meaning and purpose empowers us to be forgiving.
Forgiveness is Rooted in Genuine Love
When speaking with someone in either an individual counseling or group therapy session I always remind individuals that genuine and mindful forgiveness and love comes when we understand and accept who we are. We come to accept the good, the bad, the ugly, and the indifference of our own sense of being. There is a stark contrast between love and hate. Either we love ourselves, love others, and have a love for life; or, we hate ourselves, hate others, and hate our lives. Love and hate are polar opposites. Where there is genuine love hate has no room to grow. Where there is hate there is no real genuine love. This is true with genuine and mindful forgiveness.
Forgiveness stems from a deep and enriching love of God, of ourselves, of others, and of life.Tweet
According to Athena Stak:
Forgiveness however is not something you do for someone else. You forgive to heal your self, to restore the emotional power you need to remain empathically connected to your inner sense of compassion for your self first and foremost, for without your own love-connection to self inside, you cannot connect to the other as a human being. You do so to honor your inner design, as a human being, because love is the essence of who we are as human beings.The Power of Forgiveness: Restoring Own Connection to Love & Healing
Genuine and mindful forgiveness and love stems from when we are aware of our true self (Soul). Hatred and unforgiveness stems from when we are operating out of our false self (Ego).
The challenge is to be mindful of the internal conflict between Ego and Soul. When we are mindful of this internal struggle, we are capable of moving toward living from our authentic self (love) compared to living out of our (Ego). It is not an easy task. This requires strict discipline and practice. Yet, when we begin to gravitate toward loving God, loving self, loving others, and loving life we are becoming less ego driven and entrenched in our own victimization.
Forgiveness Leads to Healing and Restoration
There is significant healing power when we come to a place of mindful and genuine forgiveness. Healing for ourselves and those who have harmed us. And it is not something that comes by easily. Real authentic forgiveness takes time to process. Healing from the emotional and physical wounds takes time to heal. However long this process is for each of us the healing and forgiveness brings to us restoration of health and well-being to our minds, hearts, and souls.
James E. Faust says this:
If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become “less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,” which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes “that forgiveness … is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves.”The Healing Power of Forgiveness – April 2007 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints
Unforgiveness is wasted energy of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is constant tension that has negative impact on our physiological make up. We are constantly in a state of anger and our stress response maintains constant adrenaline. It is a dangerous and negative state of existence. The power of forgiveness calms our stress response down. It calms our raging thoughts and brings us out of the false perception. Utilizing mindful and meditative techniques, we increase our own awareness as to how harmful harboring resentments and bitterness may be.
Dr. Kathy McCoy provides insights in the Healing Power of Forgiveness and shares five ways we are empowered to move beyond those resentments bitterness:
- Take the time necessary to process the pain
- Embrace the power to make a difference in your life
- Forgive yourself and engage in positive self-talk
- Understand rather than demonize the other person
- Realize the benefits forgiveness offers you
Genuine and mindful forgiveness brings freedom and restoration to our mind, body, and soul. It refreshes us with genuine love. Helps us increase our sense of worth and understanding. It helps us relate to others and empowers us to live true to who we are.
Exploring Ways to Forgive yourself and others
- Be as specific as possible – To foster an understanding of who you are and what it means to forgive self, others, and God – you want to focus on the specific details.
- Go for depth over breadth – Dive deep into the details about the particular ways resentment and bitterness has kept you from living a healthy life where you cultivate happiness
- Personalization – Focus more on what your own personal needs are when it comes to forgiveness and not what you feel entitled to from others
- Subtract not Add – How will your life look differently when you begin to explore ways to walk in mindful and genuine forgiveness? How will this impact your relationships? What does this do to your own sense of worth and freedom?
- Good gifts – Change our perception and focus on how our own sense of happiness is a gift for us to grow and mature through forgiveness
- Savor surprises – What were some of the unexpected things that you are discovering? Does this surprise you? How does this contribute to your greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in life?
- Revise if you repeat – Zero in on different aspects when you find yourself writing about the same content regarding your own personal resentments, anger, disappointments, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
The Writing Prompt
Are you ready? Here is the writing challenge for this week:
I forgive myself for…..
Remember to follow the tips. Practice mindfulness and meditation to help clear the landscape of your mind. Do not merely just write about forgiving yourself, share the thoughts, emotions, and how your body responds.
When you have completed this challenge – comment and share your thoughts on this experience.