We all have experienced betrayal or hurt by the words or actions of another. Most of the time it just rolls off us and we forget about it but at times the hurt and betrayal feels too big to forgive. Or the situation keeps repeating itself tearing open the wounds time and time again, never giving us the opportunity to fully heal.
If we wait for someone else to heal us, it may just never happen and our inner wounds become so numerous and overwhelming that we don’t know where to begin. Sometimes we don’t even know what is causing the inner pain and we just live with feelings of anger, hate, guilt and/or shame; not fully understanding where these negative feelings are coming from. Or, perhaps pointing our fingers outward, blaming situations or people for our inner situation. Never realizing that we can take responsibility for our inner world no matter the outer circumstances.
When we choose not to forgive we find ourselves stuck, without solutions, unable to direct our energy towards love and healing; we remain consumed by pain and suffering and possibly hate and blame. It’s easier to put our own pain on another, hating them, saying it is their fault than bearing our inner pain.
When we choose forgiveness we find freedom to progress, find solutions, heal our self and let go. Letting go releases sufferings and betrayals of the past. It gives us the opportunity to choose love over hate. Love is like gravity, we don’t really know what it is but we know it exists and it pulls us together!
“Freedom to choose your spirit no matter the circumstance.” ~ Holocaust survivor ~
Forgiveness is the unwillingness to harm others – including ourselves! In the West there seems to be an epidemic of self-hate. We are all imperfectly perfect human beings who are bound to make mistakes. When we can accept that for our self and forgive ourselves of our mistakes and perceived faults, it will lead us to a feeling of human-ness that we recognize in all. With the development of non-egotistical self-love and acceptance, we will find it easier to forgive others for their betrayals and inflictions of pain.
This does not mean that we condone what happened! Not at all. In fact, it could be our nemesis to say, “I will learn from this and do my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Forgiveness also does not mean that we have to see or talk to the person, if it is a cycle of hurt and betrayal, it may be better to separate our self and give our self the space to heal.
Forgiveness does not happen in an instant! It’s not a simple smile and an “I forgive you”. It needs to be deeper. We need to honor the grief, betrayal and pain and give it the time needed. Otherwise it may just be suppressed negative energy, which will need to emerge in a different way and time.
“I will not allow her to push me into lowly games of dishonesty and hypocritical behavior. I’m stronger than that and I live by higher morals.” ~ positive self talk ~
Sometimes forgiveness is looked at as being passive and weak but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not about the ‘other’ its only about our own inner equanimity and health. To forgive requires tremendous inner strength and it is a deep work of the heart! It elevates us when we can bear our suffering well and release the pain and not give in to hate!
Meditate on the Love
This is a beautiful and effective Buddhist meditation I have used for years to forgive those who have hurt me, as well as towards my inner critic. When I can feel the human-ness and compassion of the person, it relieves me from the inside out. I also remind myself that very often those who are able to hurt the most are those who are themselves the most hurt, therefore, sending them loving kindness not only uplifts me but I like to believe it uplifts them and those around that person.
Sit quietly, in a comfortable position and repeat the following as you imagine yourself (or replace the I with the name of someone else) being filled with loving-kindness, etc.
May I be filled with loving-kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy
Jack Kornfield is one of my greatest inspirations and here is a beautiful talk by him about Forgiveness with another meditation at the end.