Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Lockdown due to the Covid -19 virus was a different experience for everyone. But for nearly all of us, regardless if you still had to go into work, work from home, furloughed or weren't able to work it did allow some time of reflection. The lack of noise, distraction and inability to go out and be anywhere else gave us all time to think. When everything else is stripped away the fundamentals of your life are there to see. The pure basics of, do I like the person I’m with, do I like where I live and when this is all over is this the job I want to do. But more than anything, do I like who I am?
I decided to write my first piece on forgiveness in light of the reflection time, for those who've been driven up the wall by their families, for those looking back and for those still carrying wounds, forgiveness can lighten the load.
Forgiveness is a fundamental that we are taught at an early age.
Shake hands, say you’re sorry and all’s forgiven and forgotten. Move on.
For some people forgiveness is as easy as sneezing and saying ‘bless you’.
For others not so much.
There are people who can forgive other people easily but can never forgive themselves for their mistakes and years and even decades later still beat themselves up for the slights and wrongs they have committed. Others are the other way and forgive and excuse themselves for any foibles and yet carry a grudge for ever more with everyone else for really petty incidents.
For me the art of forgiveness is a blessing.
But before I go on can I just make it perfectly clear, forgiving someone a wrong is not the same as giving people carte blanche to treating you badly. Domestic abuse, racism, violence, bullying should not be tolerated or permitted to reoccur. Forgiving someone and they then do the same thing again is not ok. However if you are out of the situation and look back with elements of anger, rage, frustration, fear, then it could be something that needs attention. And forgiveness .
There are stories of people who’ve had the worst atrocities happen to them in the form of losing a loved one and they have gone on to say that they have forgiven the perpetrator. When I was younger I thought, ‘How could you?’ ‘Why would you?’ but as you get older you realise that you just don’t want to carry that connection with the other person and the art of forgiveness releases the bond you have with that person. It doesn’t take away what happened. It can however lessen the emotional fierceness.
The world doesn’t fall into two camps of good and bad people. We are a myriad of our ancestors, our parents, our environments, our personalities and ego. Once you realise that any person can do anything, good or bad we are all open to looking at forgiveness. Both with people that did, or we feel did, us wrong and ourselves for our part in it.
I want to look at two elements.
One - You want to forgive another person. You are the wronged party. You were hurt, betrayed, lied to, humiliated and you want to forgive that person as you have now moved on.
Two – you are seeking forgiveness. You did wrong by and to someone else and you feel guilt and shame. You wish to make amends and apologise and be forgiven for what you did.
Some people will try and talk it out, face to face, cards on the table. Some people will write a letter explaining how the events have caused them pain, harm or seek forgiveness. But not only does that take courage but is also reliant on the other person wanting and even needing to have that interaction with the other person. Ultimately if you are the seeker of forgiveness you are waiting for the time your ‘victim’ is ready to forgive you and if you are the ‘victim’ you are holding onto the ills of the other until you feel that it is time. Sometimes the truth is that if you did actually sit down with someone and say ‘ I forgive you ‘ you are opening yourself up for not getting the resolution that you wish, which can add another layer onto a difficult situation.
There are many ways to deal with forgiveness. Write a letter, which you don’t send. Talk to a friend. Talk to a counselor. Or step to the next level.
I work with the Hawaiian Mantra Ho’oponopono which is repeating the words
I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you
Let’s start with forgiving someone else.
Find a quiet place where you can focus on your breathing. Be comfortable. It may be worth having a box of tissues near by and a notebook to write down elements which come up. You may find there is a specific incidence you wish to work on, or it could be a bit broader. Focus on the person you wish to forgive and repeat the words. Over and over again.
But hang on I hear you say, I'm supposed to be forgiving them and instead I'm saying 'I'm sorry? Please forgive me? I love you?' and what am I thanking them for?'
The ritual of using Ho’oponopono and the four sentences dates back thousands of years and there is a reason that it survived that long. Question all you like, but first try it and see if it works for you.
Say each sentence with the same tone. it can be easy to say one sentence with more force than another, one less than another, say each sentence with the same intention, same intonation.
Stay with it. You can say the words out loud or in your mind. Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes the pain is too much and you will feel a resistance and want to stop. Keep trying. Say the words over and over again. Until they are a gentle hum in your voice and mind and you can use your minds eye to skim over the events. You will feel a lapse in the intensity of the emotion attached to the event, or person. You may find that you are more aware of some of the elements which you played a part in. Now is the time that you can also forgive yourself. Forgive your part in the event. Perhaps the words you used, your actions. Forgiveness of the person, you and the events that led to the situation.
You may find that it is something that you have to keep coming back to.
If you need to forgive yourself for specific situations or a general need to forgive. Forgive your behaviour, your language, your thoughts, actions. Repeat the words out loud and in your head. Forgive yourself for being human. If you can learn from the situation and try not to repeat the mistakes, all the better. If not, well, atleast you now have a mantra to forgive yourself. This is not again carte blanche to be mean, shady or disrespectful. It is a way to correct and make right and forgive.
Forgiveness allows you to move on. It allows you to let go and it allows the past to be the past. The past is the past, You have only this life to experience all that the world has to offer, do you really want to be held in a state of unhappiness or forgive and allow joy and happiness to find the place where there was once pain and hurt.
Say you’re sorry, forgive and move on.