I have learned that forgiveness does not come because we want it to. We all know that to hate someone is like taking a poison hoping that it kills our enemies, but having the intention to forgive is not the same as it actually happening. I have told people I forgive them and silently clap when something crappy happened to them. Clearly I did not forgive them. I have prayed and chanted forgiveness and still held deep anger for those who have betrayed me most, or done grave damage to me. But that alone does not change the ravages of pain, anger, resentment, fear and hatred that can tool around in our subconscious mind despite our best efforts. What I did find is that Forgiveness is a process, and one that takes some focus. Here are the steps that I found helpful:
1. Pull back from the situation. Physically if it’s present, and emotionally. Can you see this from all sides?
2. Change the story. So if it’s something in the past, you know your story about it, you have probably agonized about it over and over, but what if you changed it? None of our stories are 100% accurate, so you could change it. For instance, I often say when someone is unkind or hurtful to me, “As much as it sucks to be hurt by this person, imagine how bad it must be to be that person, to hurt someone like me, or to steal from someone like me, or to betray someone like me.” I know I’m a good friend. And I have been abused in many ways, but did the person really go about to hurt me, like single minded focus, or did they lose their way, or did they use me to ultimately hurt themselves because they think they deserve that, or they don’t deserve me?
I believe we all have our journeys here we agreed to before we got here, so how hellish is theirs that this is what they are experiencing right now, or in the past, to hurt me? I re-frame it so that I can see how screwed up they are to do what they did, much more than I am to have it done to me. I can go on, I am not what was done to me. I am still good and worthy and not in the pain they are in to be so cruel or whatever words you use to describe them.
3. Compassion. This is when I can finally come to a place of compassion. Now I can feel for my fellow man as another soul trying to find their way that did something that caused them to lose a good person in their life, me. I know I have hurt others as well, and not intentionally, but I’m sure my name has been dropped on a few psychologists couches. I may have in my own search for happiness, security, freedom, whatever….hurt others. I never wanted to hurt others and if you go back far enough you can see where that person took a wrong turn and things spiraled. We are all human and it’s not an easy life we have chosen, but each lesson has led us to something greater. Some betrayals have led me to make better choices, and to go different direction that ultimately gave me a better life. These things happen and they happen to everyone. You are not alone in your pain and we can all take stock in the fact that most of the pain we all suffer was unintentional because we are all big dumb humans trying to find our way back to where we came from. It’s a big confusing mess down here, but we are all doing our best.
The thing is, even if you hate someone, you are still in a relationship with them if you stoke the fires of hate. They are still in your thoughts and in your heart and if you really are done with someone, then let them be gone from your thoughts and heart. The only way I know to do that is to forgive them so that you make space in your heart and mind for someone worthy of you. Erase their name off of your board of life, and leave it empty so you can heal, and allow more good stuff in your life.
This all takes time. Sometimes weeks, sometimes months, and sometimes years. The main thing is to take the time you need and be gentle with yourself while you deal with the betrayal or you are doing as much harm to yourself as they did. It’s also important to come to a place of loving yourself as much as you did that person (or wanted to), because you will continue to attract the same type of person if you do not change the way you feel about yourself. In the “forgiveness stage” I highly suggest being around a lot of friends and doing what you love most. The happier you become, the easier it is to really have compassion for someone who was unfortunate enough to not be able to honor your beauty. So go be amazing, and see how much more quickly the pain disappears when you focus on your power in the world instead of the power someone tried to take from you. Obviously you had more of what they needed, and if you had it, you can get it back. You created your situation, now create it to make you happy and whole.