For me, forgiveness is about wanting to increase my inner peace around a hurtful situation. Ultimately it’s up to me to rectify from within in order to allow healing to occur from the harm. I am aware that I do not want to continue holding on to the hurt and allowing the imposed pain to still have power.
When I need to forgive someone I begin with a core principle of Shamanism to get myself geared up to forgive and help prevent potential hurt: “You will never have any enemies if you don’t take anything personally.” It is true that this can be difficult, but how liberating it will be!
The second understanding I apply to forgiving is to take a look at when I have done something similar to someone else, or when I have needed to be forgiven in general. If I can find it in my heart to forgive, I can forgive myself for similar behavior that I may carry guilt or shame from. Carrying guilt and shame within me affects me, often unconsciously, both physically and mentally.
Thirdly, I truly believe the saying ‘forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.’ With forgiveness, I am able to take back my power and energy where it has been depleted. Forgiving does not by any means excuse behavior, or mean I have to put up with continually forgiving the same person.
The next step that leads me towards forgiveness is knowing that my own behavior is a direct reflection of me. The hurt was never about me, no matter how damaging or abusive someone has been requiring enormous strength to forgive. This is a key step: knowing people are fighting their own inner demons that unfortunately, wrongly, and all too often with grave consequences, they take out on others.
Lastly, my thoughts on forgiving lead me to understand I may not be ready to forgive just yet, even if I know it’s for my benefit when I can. If someone does something you find too tough to forgive right now, that’s okay, do not feel guilty about forgiveness. The guilt just contributes to the pain from the situation staying with you longer.
The goal is to find peace with the situation, which may be to cut ties when possible and be thankful you are able to go your separate ways. We must forgive ourselves from the prison in our minds; we do not want our inner punishment about the hurtful situation to last a lifetime. We want to work on establishing inner peace and let go of that which is in our control, thoughts that plague us are in our control. We all require being forgiven, so practice by lovingly starting with you.
Photo Credit: Gus Moretta