Why is forgiveness considered such an important Pathway to Wholeness? Because holding on to anger and resentment drains us of our personal power and keeps us in the past. While a simple choice can transmute anger and resentment into forgiveness, it is a choice that we often resist making.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FORGIVE?
When we feel wronged, the last thing we feel like doing is to forgive. We want to hold the other person accountable, get justice and make them pay for what they have done. “An eye for an eye”, “revenge is sweet” “don’t get mad get even” are well known phrases in our collective conscious that fuel the fires of anger and resentment. Playing the event over and over in our minds keeps the hurt ever-present and the wound open. The need to retaliate gives the hurt a direction, and in some warped way, gives us an element of control and purpose.
THE PHYSICAL IMPACT OF STRESS, ANGER AND RESENTMENT
In recent years, research on the benefits of forgiveness has been done by several reputable sources.
The Mayo Clinic Website lists the following benefits of letting go of anger and grudges:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Higher self-esteem
Dr. Frederic Luskin, Director of Stanford’s Forgiveness Project research, notes on his website that forgiveness training can be an effective intervention for individuals with elevated levels of anger and in some instances, lowering blood pressure.
SPIRITUAL CONSIDERATIONS OF FORGIVENESS
As we have previously discussed in our discussion on Mindfulness, our experiences begin with our thoughts. When centered in Source-Consciousness, we can remember that the life experience is a “hologram” created by experiencing thoughts and that each of us are “our own hologram unto ourselves. However, our hologram is not created in a vacuum. The life experience is a fluid body of “collective thoughts” of all whom have part of their energy plugged into the same pool of thoughts at the same time. By doing so, we “co-create” a hologram.
We are co-creators of this hologram with free will choice, and free to create experiences which are not in balance with Source. There are many created imbalances in our co-created hologram which we experience every day, some created by ourselves, some created by others. When encountering something like an automobile accident, we did not consciously set out along that path with the intention of getting into an automobile accident. However we are traveling the roads of our shared hologram and hence we encounter the experiences of others along the road. But we are not creating the hologram by ourselves, we are “sharing and experiencing the hologram” with everyone else who is doing the same thing and our personal hologram includes the thoughts of others which we take unto ourselves to experience.
Simply by choosing to experience the imbalanced hologram of earth we set ourselves up for the “possibility” of experiencing the imbalanced thoughts of the masses within our personal hologram and some of them can be quite traumatic. It does not mean we did anything wrong to encounter traumatic life experiences or that we deserve to encounter such things. However, the imbalances we experience can be painful. That pain can cause anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge.
What happens when we hold anger and resentment against some imbalance we experienced? If we choose to play the role of the victim and blame others for our experiences we are allowing others to retain control of our power. Who are we harming if we choose to give our power away to another and blame them for our life experiences? Who is losing out in the long run? The one who we feel wronged us? We are the only one who continues to lose our power, we are the only one who continues to suffer inside because we are the only one in charge of our personal life experience. No one else can control what we are experiencing within ourselves.
It is the belief of the FTCF that those who desire to live in Source-centered consciousness are working to heal the imbalances of the created hologram. If we look upon the imbalances as a virus, we are the antidote to the virus! By choosing the path of forgiveness, we not only release ourselves from the victim mentality and remain in our personal power, we contribute to healing the collective hologram and express the love of Source.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
It would be a very rare individual who has never experienced hurt in their lifetime. Most of us have had broken hearts, been treated badly, felt insulted and experienced abuse in various forms. Some of this pain we have left in the past and moved on. However, there are some hurts we may never have released. These hurts are ever present and influence many areas of our lives. They impact the way we relate to other people, our overall happiness, and as discussed, can have a detrimental impact on our physical health. So, how do we go about forgiving when there are parts of ourselves screaming for justice? You may think that the person does not deserve forgiveness but realize that the forgiveness is not for them but for you.
HOW DO WE GO ABOUT FORGIVING
Forgiveness is an inner paradigm shift… It has nothing to do with the other person. It is a personal choice to heal yourself. It is important to realize that forgiving someone does not release them from any moral responsibility. Releasing the need for retribution does not mean the person is not accountable for any violation of free will or harm they may have done. It just means you are acknowledging that they are accountable to their higher Source and not you. You no longer have to worry if they will have accountability for what they have done because there is a universal sense of order that balances things much better than you or anyone else can.
Empathy is also a key to forgiveness. It is impossible to know what goes on in another’s mind and understand fully what motivated their actions. However, if you are able to step into the shoes of the person or persons who you feel have wronged you, you could find some possible reasons for their actions. It does not matter if those reasons are correct or not, the very exercise itself can allow a bit of light into a very dark place.
Another facet of empathy is to look at your own transgressions toward others. How have you hurt others in the past? What were your actions? What were the results? The acknowledgement of the imperfection in your own behavior can help you view the transgressions of others a bit less harshly. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”
Finding the gift can be another step on the path of forgiveness. Each experience we have, be they positive or negative, have life lessons attached to them. If you can set aside your anger and resentment and have a hard and honest look at the growth you have experienced from your setbacks, you may look at your seemingly hurtful experience in a different light. Oprah Winfrey said, “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” While you may not experience an epiphany of gratitude towards those who have hurt you, you might “grudgingly” admit you may have learned a valuable lesson from it all.
There are some people who will not forgive unless an apology or acknowledgement of the transgression is given by the person who has hurt them. By waiting for an apology, you are placing the responsibility for your health and happiness in their hands. Is that where you want to place you power?
Jack Kornfield, author and teacher wrote, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.” That is a key point in self-forgiveness. No matter what you do and how much you may want to, you cannot change the past. However, you are always free to change how you view it.
If you are feeling guilt, pain, and remorse over something you have done in the past, your values and morals have grown and you now regret your actions. Celebrate your growth and accept the lesson the experience holds. Let yourself off the hook. If there are amends to be made, make them.
If you have done due-diligence in working to forgive and still find yourself stuck in your anger and revenge, seek counseling from a mental health professional. Holding on to grudges and resentment will keep you stuck and can impact your health. Love yourself enough to take the steps necessary to forgive.
STEPS TOWARD FORGIVENESS
Summing it up, the following are important points on the path of forgiveness:
- Realize forgiveness is for and about you and no one else.
- Forgiveness is a viable choice you can make. It just takes a bit of work.
- Let go of your need for revenge and accountability.
- Step into their shoes. What are some reasons they acted the way they did?
- Realize no one, not even you, is perfect.
- Find the gift in the experience.
- Don’t wait for an apology. You are in charge of your own happiness.
- Forgive yourself. Celebrate your growth in values and perceptions.
- If you need help, get it.