It would be so nice if when we told our painful stories of the past, all our suffering would magically disappear. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. Many of us get stuck in the quagmire of our emotions not letting the ghosts of the past be in the past. How can we work through these emotions? We heal our emotions by feeling them completely. The only way we can get to the other side is by walking through that door. Yes, it hurts yet the paradox is that when we give ourselves permission to feel our emotions completely, we begin to dissipate its energy. One of the reasons why we struggle so much with forgiveness is that we want to avoid feeling pain, but in order to finally let our emotional burdens go, we have to know what’s there.
Forgiveness is a process that usually takes time. If done fully, forgiveness changes us in a very fundamental way. It changes our thinking and creates within us a new way of being in this world. When we become a person who can forgive, then we find the ultimate freedom forgiveness brings. This freedom expands our consciousness giving us the gift of an all-encompassing love. Challenging ourselves to grow beyond our “small” selves is difficult and yet it reaps great rewards.
So what are the ways you can begin to let go of your past? Soul searching is a good starting point. Take out your journal and ask yourself the following questions.
- Do you really want to forgive this person? It’s ok if you don’t – and if that is the case just be gentle with yourself. It is healthier to be able to acknowledge that then to say “I forgive” when you are still seething inside. Working with our emotions takes time. There are also times when we feel that we “should” forgive someone for a variety of reasons. This never works. Forgive is a choice, a voluntary act and if it is forced resentment builds just beneath the surface.
- Do you want to step out of being a victim? If not why is it that you are choosing to hold on to your anger and/or guilt? This question is a hard one. All of us are invested in being stuck in the victim role. Do you want to get back at someone by being the innocent victim, showing the world how much you are suffering at the hands of another? Remember, we disempower ourselves when we are stuck in the victim role, blaming others and not taking responsibility for our own lives. Conversely we empower ourselves when we take responsibility for our emotional well being. Often it is our feelings of guilt that keeps us stuck. We may not feel that we deserve feeling better or we feel guilty that someone else may have suffered and not us. When this happens ask yourself, what is under these feelings – why do I want to beat myself up? Why am I not willing to love and nurture myself? Remember – holding on to guilt is a choice, too.
- Do you really want to heal? This is another hard question and be gentle with yourself with whatever comes up. The important issue here is to be aware that you are making choices, awareness being the first step in any healing process.
As I have mentioned before – forgiveness takes work. Being honest, loving and gentle with yourself will take you on the road to recovery. Get help if you need too for you do not need to do this work on your own. And remember, you are not alone.
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As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.