Forgiveness: Give Yourself Freedom
Before I get into a potentially upsetting article, I want to make a few things clear.
You have no obligation to forgive anyone. No one has any obligation to forgive you. You can forgive someone without them being in your life anymore. You can forgive yourself for things you have done, even if the other person does not wish to, you must also respect that. Forgiveness is a personal and internal process to work on your own healing. Only through love and acceptance can we move forward.
Can You Feel The Chains Constricting Your Heart?
There is little more destructive to human happiness than hatred. There are few things more time-wasting than regret. This is not to say they do not have their place, it is important though, to realise the healthy limitations of their time.
How long would you stay mad at a child for drawing on the wall?
How long would you stay mad at a partner for cheating on you?
How long would you let yourself suffer if you knew it was you who set the time limit?
It is common to think that forgiving someone might reduce their actions. It is naive to think you have that much power over someone else. Holding a grudge may hurt someone, but only if they already feel remorseful. Holding a grudge will, however, always hurt you whether the other person even knows it or not. Now there are already multiple avenues of thought we could go down from here.
We'll start with this. Imagine anger as a poison, not unlike alcohol. It feels good in the right doses and even seems to temporarily solve problems. It helps you tell people how you feel and conveniently stops you caring about the repercussions. Keep drinking this poison and what happens? You get sick. You get sick and it seems the only cure is more anger. But surely no one in their right mind would keep drinking if they knew it made them sick? An angry person is very rarely in their right mind. Now imagine this person wants to stop drinking all this anger. Perhaps their family and friends want to see them happy again. Here come the withdrawals. When you hold onto grudges, when you hold onto anger for long enough, you forget how to let go. It becomes 'who you are'. You start to identify with the anger and defend it upon criticism in the same way you might defend a body part upon insult. However, anger is less like a body part and more like an item of clothing. A big coat may keep you warm out in a storm but to wear it inside where it is nice and warm will do you no good. To hold on to anger after the incident is done is just the same. Once things have settled you need to acknowledge the change in your surroundings and move on. Notice as well that a coat will have no effect on the weather or the air temperature indoors, it will only affect your condition personally.
It may be quite clear now that I am portraying anger as an addiction. I believe long term anger needs to be treated as such. It is important to note that this applies to any emotional state that has far outlived it's welcome in your life. Grief, sadness, loneliness, anything that you can't quite seem to shake will have the same effect. I am yet to meet a human adult that has not experienced any form of this, myself included.
Before you do anything else, get yourself clean. Remove yourself from a situation if you have to. Take a break, change jobs, let people around you know you need some time to yourself to make some changes. If you can't go anywhere then set yourself time each day to disconnect and tune in to your inner world. If you aren't willing to change how can you expect anyone else to? Think about the things in your life that really mean something to you. Your friends, your family, your passions, keep these clearly in your mind as you work through the tough stages of detox. Here is the hard part: you are going to have to talk about it. Find a teacher, a counsellor or a friend you trust and tell them what you want to achieve. Focus on the outcome, not the problem. Instead of dwelling on the mistakes made, focus on 'becoming calmer', 'being patient', becoming more accepting'. Whatever it is, write it down, talk about it and set the intention to be a brighter, more loving and happy person. Do this for you. Do this for your happiness and take your life back.
Understand you will have setbacks. Keep a log or write a journal. Check-in with yourself every day and start to consciously recognise your patterns. You are not punishing yourself as you have not done anything wrong. You can start with a simple method of giving yourself a score out of 10 for each day. The score could represent how much happiness you felt or how active you were in breaking old patterns. This simple act of daily awareness will work wonders on its own.
Should We Forgive Bad People?
Yes, even if I thought there was such a thing. I understand I may lose a few people here. I have seen some horrible things, I have heard far worse stories. I have also seen miraculous recoveries from the most brutal traumas. Again I ask the question, "How long would you let yourself suffer if you knew it was you who set the time limit?". You are not to blame when pain is brought upon you. It is not your fault when life takes a turn. You are, however, responsible for the healing. No one can do this for you and you can not do this for anyone else.
Let's say someone sticks a thorn in your foot. You yell at them to take it out! They laugh and run away. Now what? Are you going to leave this thorn in your foot until they come back and pull it out? Are you going to let it fester, hoping that if it gets bad enough they might finally feel remorse and remove it for you? I hope not. If you wish for the suffering to stop you must swallow your pride and accept it is your responsibility to remove the thorn and let your wound heal. Same goes in life. Once the thorn is removed however and the wound appears to have healed on the surface, you may still feel the lingering effects. The distrust around thorns, the fire in your stomach when you see someone who reminds you of the culprit. Have you truly healed?
Whether or not the person who harmed you is running free or is doing everything they can to apologise, you won't feel good again until you forgive them. This is not about letting them off the hook, this is about setting yourself free, a little wiser and a little more caring. Remember this, you do not need to tell them you forgive them, they may not even be around anymore. You do however need to be true to yourself and find a place in your heart to honestly let go. You can't fool yourself, you are wiser than that.
What would it take for you to harm another being? What if everything in your life had been misery after misery from the day you were born? What if you (having never learnt how to express your frustrations) harmed someone? Are you now a bad person? If the world turned it's back on you and said you weren't worth helping, would you be able to stand tall or would you fall apart? No matter what your circumstances are there is no excuse for harmful actions. However, when a child starts bullying at school it is not due to bad genetics or an evil soul. There is always pain inside. Pain that needs an outlet. Imagine a world where we approached every bully with love while they were still young and open to change. Imagine we sat down with every angry child and instead of criticising and labelling them as bad eggs, we looked at ways we could help them. Imagine they didn't have to grow up forcing this pain onto others.
It is true that not everyone will make this change. Unless the whole world turns around tomorrow, joins hands and together in unison decides to live with complete unconditional love and acceptance, will we actually solve this dilemma. I'm not holding my breath. I am however hoping to spread a little awareness to a small few who may be holding onto their past without knowing that it is the true cause of their pain. Let go. See the harmful people in your life for what they are, wounded children who were not as fortunate as you, who did not learn how to love and care for themselves or others. Set them free, let them go and break the chains that squeeze your heart so tight that you have hardly enough room for yourself. You yourself are just a wounded child. You have done no wrong. You were not born with the knowledge to live a life free from pain.
There is an unfortunate amount of chaos inflicted upon those who truly are doing there best. I am truly sorry that anyone has to endure any sort of physical, mental or emotional trauma. I do not claim to know just how difficult it must be to come back from any particular experience. I do however believe the key isn't coming back. Coming back is not possible. You are never the same person for more than an instant. Through pain and through joy, you are always evolving. Trying to reclaim a past self will leave you fighting against a current stronger than you could ever imagine. Let it take you forward instead. Searching behind you for what you have lost simply closes your eyes to what you might find in front of you. It is scary riding the waves into the unknown. This new you. This new ocean you find yourself drifting into.
You are only given a certain amount of energy in this life, don't waste it paddling backwards. You will need it for what's ahead. With love, Logan Pike
Founder & teacher at Pono Healing