One of the greatest sources of upset in our lives is the pain we feel other people have unjustly inflicted upon us. There are many adages about forgiving trespasses, among them:
“Forgive but don’t forget”
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”-Gandhi
“To blame others for your misfortunes shows you are in need of education. To blame yourself shows your education has begun. To blame no-one shows your education is complete.”-Epictetus
These guiding posts are of a tremendous help. But they can also be prone to misinterpretation by our egos. Forgiving someone because we are the bigger person, for instance, embraces the idea that the world is unjust, but that we are capable of rising above this injustice. Forgiving but remembering, does not necessarily imply taking responsibility for the part we played in the situation. Blaming no one at all in any situation can lead to a lack of discernment and learning. In my experience, profound, heart-felt forgiveness takes time and practice, and generally involves the following steps:
In any situation in which you have been hurt, you should, before you forgive anyone, acknowledge your feelings. You are in pain, you received a blow, you do not owe it to anyone to internalize and hide your reaction. Feel it, express it. But do not let the emotion catch you and carry you away. Do not identify with the situation, observe it with some degree of detachment.
Take responsibility for the situation. Anything that evokes a strong reaction in you, is trying to demonstrate to you your unhealed wounds, your fears, your suppressed feelings and your dependencies. You have given away too much of your power to another person or event. You have forgotten who you truly are. You are unlimited, all powerful love, wisdom and abundance. Everything in your life comes from within you, regardless of what source it chooses to manifest through. You are light, you are boundless spirit, that has chosen to confine itself in a human body for the sake of learning. You should not forget this.
Find the lesson. Every significant situation in your life is either a lesson, a blessing or a guiding post intended to show you that you are on the wrong track. You have embarked on many missions on your journey for the sake of growing in wisdom, love and understanding. You chose hard lessons because easy lessons make poor teachers.
Open yourself up to the learning experience with the knowledge that you are not alone ever. You are being guided and supported at all times as you complete the journey your spirit has elected.
Forgive yourself. Do not wallow in blame or guilt over what you could have done differently. The experience is meant to make you wiser, it is not meant to punish you and make you miserable. You were always doing the best with the circumstances you were given. You did the best you could at your level of experience, awareness and understanding. You are brave, and courageous. You are strong enough to handle your challenges. You are loving enough to not destroy yourself in the process. Nobody can love others and abuse themselves simultaneously for a prolonged period of time. In order to share the love that you are, you must accept and cherish yourself unconditionally.
See that nothing happened. As it says in one of my favorite quotes from THE COURSE IN MIRACLES: Nothing that is real can be destroyed. Anything that can be destroyed was not real to begin with. You are giving up nothing but a dream. If it wounds you so to part with it, focus on creating another happy dream.
The more you heal yourself, the happier, more balanced and more peaceful the circumstances you attract to your life will be. Every wound is an opportunity to grow and learn. If you do grow, and do not resist learning, then you will transition to a future that is more loving, healthy and abundant. You will not lose out. You will not miss out. You will be happy.