Some Thoughts on Forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is not about condoning the abusive behavior, but rather setting yourself free from it and acknowledging that we all make mistakes.
- Forgiveness is not about “making nice,” going along to get along, or not making waves.
- Forgiveness sometimes comes in bits & pieces and sometimes in big chunks. When it comes in big chunks, it can be exhilarating.
- Forgiveness comes after doing grief work, after feeling your feelings of anger, pain, sadness, and betrayal.
- Forgiveness comes after you have processed your feelings. Otherwise, how can you know what you are forgiving? Instant forgiveness is often a self-deceptive ploy to escape feeling our feelings. The situation and our feelings will continue to cause problems unless faced.
- Forgiveness is better done after holding the abuser accountable & they have made amends, especially if you are still in a relationship with them. Otherwise, the abuser will think that s/he is being let off the hook and will have no incentive to change. Holding someone accountable is an act of love/respect. It is not the same as punishment.
- Forgiving and forgetting are natural consequences of doing the grief work and of holding someone accountable.
- When people do not change, it doesn’t mean that you don’t forgive them if you sever or limit a relationship with an emotionally, physically, sexually, or economically dangerous person. It can be a rational, sanity preserving, quality-of-life sustaining action, based on an honest appraisal of the situation.
- Forgiveness may sometimes mean realizing that the abuser is an emotionally compromised person, whose violence emanates from a combination of factors: distorted life perspective, compromised brain function, selfishness, and/or persistent fear and related anger. A combination of all these factors is probably an indicator of early childhood abandonment and abuse without sufficient ameliorative factors.
- It is most important that you forgive yourself. If you don’t forgive yourself, it will be hard to forgive others. You will remain chained to the pain. It is important to make amends to yourself.
- Some actions may not be forgivable. It is important to find a way to free yourself from bitterness and live the fullest possible life that you can, given your situation.
- Forgiveness is FREEing! Forgiveness frees up energy and intellectual powers to create something new in your life; to live more fully.
- Why? Forgiveness feels better. The tension of resentment that you feel in your body will dissolve. The energy that you spent in resentment, anger, loathing, and bitterness is free to be directed in the present. Qualities like Serenity, Love, Value, Truth, Wholeness, Truth, Contentment, Discernment, Compassion, Clarity, Intelligence, Courage, Joy, Openness, Freedom, Power, and Peace have more room to emerge.
Ho’oponopono: Forgiveness Ritual
I suggest that you practice this one with yourself first. Listen to it once a day or several times a week. You may want to “hug yourself” while listening or singing along with one of the versions. (Thank you, Elizabeth Dunham, MFT, for the idea of adding hugging oneself). The process of forgiveness of others can bring up powerful feelings, I suggest starting with less traumatic situations.
Women singing a version of Hawaiian Forgiveness Ritual: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5TdqH20_Ow&feature=related
Men singing updated version of Hawaiian Forgiveness Ritual: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9UIPzLSUxo&feature=related
Whenever intense feelings arise, remember to use the practice of breathing deeply and noticing physical sensations and emotions that arise.
©Noreen Wedman 2011