How do you forgive when you feel hurt? Last week, I shared some of what I have learned about the process of forgiveness. This week, I would like to begin to share some practical steps you can take to find forgiveness that I will reveal over the coming weeks. They begin with the willingness to see your situation in a new light.
As I look at the window after my morning meditation today, I see the array of patterns in the sky, as millions of fluffy snowflakes float to the ground. It is the first snowfall that I have seen this year and it brings with it a delight that invokes the childlike quality of wonder and awe. Just as we each are, every snowflake is unique. This reminds me that though we all share similar qualities with each other, such as the need for love or the fear of being hurt, the way we each express ourselves in the world is uniquely our own.
The snow also reminds me of how life is not linear. We may like things to happen in straight lines, but nothing in Nature is that way. In a similar way, most events in our lives are a process with a non-sequential, interwoven quality. Forgiveness is no exception. Though we may like to follow a step-by-step recipe and have all our pain from past hurts erased, forgiveness is a process with many shapes and rhythms.
As such, the following steps are intended to inspire your unique process of forgiveness, rather than be a definitive formula. They have arisen from what I have learned through my own ongoing healing, and through the gift of meditation that continues to be the most precious and enriching foundation to developing my inner peace sanctuary.
Most of us resist forgiveness because we feel hurt and justified in our feelings. Maybe we are even afraid that if we forgive, we become pushovers or give someone permission to hurt us again. We hold on to our pain in misguided self-defense, because we fear our vulnerability.
If you are struggling in this way, give these steps a try and see if they help you begin to experience less pain and more peace, even if you are not yet ready to completely forgive. Go at your own pace. Simply be as open, ready, and willing as you can for a new experience.
1. Be willing to reconsider what forgiveness is. It is important to know, as we look into how to forgive, that it does not mean that you condone someone’s actions. Forgiveness is not about making nice or denying the hurt you felt. As I mentioned last week, forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. It frees you from feeling tied up in pain by developing a new way of seeing yourself and others.
2. Be willing to reconsider how you see the situation. Forgiveness begins with the willingness to accept that you may not have seen the full picture when you felt hurt. In order to forgive, you need to move past the painful, limited perceptions that keep you stuck, like feeling victimized, in scarcity, or that life is “happening to me”. Instead, you begin to wisely use your power of choice in how you respond to the moment. Because of this, forgiveness is quite sophisticated. It requires understanding of the ways in which you have been attached to an incorrect perception.
In every moment, everyone will experience life through one of two lenses: the positive possibilities or the impossibilities. This is the ultimate determiner of how clearly we perceive.
As we touched upon last fall in this workshop, when you are in the positive possibilities, you know that you are loved. You feel that you are a welcomed and integral part of a much greater intelligent whole. You know you are wisely interconnected with all things. When you live in the positive possibilities, you don’t deny difficulties and pain. Instead, you learn to be present for them. Out of compassion for yourself and all beings, you understand that all suffering has a common source: the lack of awareness of love, which is ever present, yet often unseen.
When we are in fear and wanting, we tend to live in the impossibilities. This is a constricted state of disconnection from love, while a gnawing feeling of “not enough” eats away at our inner peace. It could be that we feel we don’t have enough money, or enough things, or enough love. The list is literally endless. Because of this, we tend to see the world as against us in some way. We deny the possibility of true happiness, lasting love, and forgiveness. Living this way is painful. And more importantly, it is not necessary. We always have the choice to return to the positive possibilities. The next step helps us see that.
3. Pause for a moment now and see if you can come into a place of neutrality regarding a person or situation that you feel has harmed you. Take a few long, deep breaths and see if you can sense some space around your hurt feelings. Then practice coming into your natural state of balance by choosing to cultivate a sense of rooted, vital expansion.
Now go a bit deeper. Consider how no one, including you, is omniscient. Because your personal tendencies colour your perspective in each moment, open to perhaps not having understood all you could about the person or the situation. Take a few more breaths here and allow yourself to soften, beyond the pain.
Take some time here. Get to know this soft place within yourself, as though you are seeing through the eyes of a beginner, in innocence. Give yourself permission to not know it all. Breathe and be in your heart.
That is all you need to do, this week. Next week, we will continue this process by offering you some practical steps to tap into the power of interconnection. You can do this!
From my heart to yours,