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It's Time to Forgive, But How?

Does your mind keep thinking about the person or people who did you wrong? Who treated you unfairly or just outright hurt you? It's natural for you to want to stop thinking about them altogether, but you probably can't seem to get them out of your head and get over how angry you are.

Forgiveness always seemed confusing and difficult for me. My purpose for writing this is to make forgiveness understandable and simple for you and to offer you a way to let go of any stuck emotional energy that's holding you down from being the "total you". In this I'll give you a simple and powerful exercise that will lighten your mind and return you to the state of happiness that you want... but first you need to stop and be aware of why this is really going on within you. What is the deeper meaning of this pain?

Forgiveness is a choice we make to let go of the past so that we can love ourselves in the Now. Growing up, I would always hear the pastor at my church say, "Forgive your brother and sister to be free of your suffering", and I would think, "Easy for you to say buddy!" I later realized that the power in forgiveness is to first understand we actually attracted the painful experience to help us see where we believe we're separate from God. The second is to "get" that the act of forgiveness doesn't need to happen with the person who hurt you. You can forgive them and yourself in the solitude of your heart.

I often thought that it must be extremely difficult for someone who has experienced rape, abuse, or a traumatic experience to just forgive the other person. But over the years, I've come to realize that forgiveness is not always a one shot deal. Imagine forgiveness comes in slices like a pizza. Each time the pain comes up, you go within and forgive that person and yourself, however much you can in that moment. By doing this you take a slice of that pain away, like a taking one slice of pizza away. If, later on, the pain comes back... realize that there's another slice left and release all that you can in that moment. I've written about my recent personal transformation with forgiveness and I think you'll find this idea to be helpful and supportive in release any pain you're feeling.

Buckle up and join me on my inner adventure of "Forgiveness to Freedom".

Recently I decided that what I really wanted was to be positive and outgoing with an optimistic view towards my daily life, but everyday my mind would reflect back to a few people who I was angry with. All I wanted was to just forget about them and never think about or speak to them again. Yet every day they would come up in my mind! I would constantly see them on Facebook "top friends", and then I started having negative dreams about these people while I was sleeping. Can you relate?

When I reached out to my support group they told me I need to forgive the people I was angry with and notice what this is revealing about me. I thought to myself, "It's easy to say we need to forgive, but how do I really know I have forgiven that person? How do I really forgive that person and let go of my anger? What does forgiveness look like as a spiritual practice?"

After a few treacherous months of "sinking thinking" and holding on to my inner battles, I finally had an experience that helped me make the shift within myself and let go of my hurt and suffering.

I was working with a client when it became obvious that she was holding onto a great deal of pain that she felt was caused by another person. By holding onto this pain she was unable to create room within her mind to create new ideas for her life. After I guided her through a releasing exercise I stopped and thought to myself, "Wow, this is exactly what I need myself!" Give it a try and follow these steps with me for freedom from your pain.

The Day of Self-Guided Forgiveness To Freedom

I took some time to myself to sit and breathe. I asked myself out loud, "Is there anyone in my life right now that I feel hurt, angry, or burdened by? If so, identify this person."

When a person came to my mind I spoke their name out loud. Then, I imagined myself in a healing tunnel where I was standing in front of them... looking into their eyes and them looking back at me.

I said out loud, "I begin to share my feelings with this person. I feel hurt!" (Share with them as fully and honestly as you can and let it last as long as necessary.)

I shared all my anger and pain with this person and then said out loud, "Now take a deep breath in and allow this person to share back with you their Truth as to why they did what they did, fully listening with an open heart as they share."

As I allowed this dialog to happen within my mind I suddenly realized that this person reacted and did what they did because of the hurt and pain they are going through. At that point, I began to feel compassion and understanding. I recognized this person didn't intentionally try to hurt me, even though it felt like it in the moment... they were reacting out of their own pain. I was able to forgive this person and give them a hug. (This is all happening within my/your own thoughts.)

I said goodbye to that person and then imagined myself standing in the healing tunnel by myself again. Then, saying out loud, "Is there anyone else in the recent past that I'm holding anger, resentment, or bitterness towards?" Immediately another person came to mind and I invited that person to stand in front of me in the tunnel, looking into each other's eyes.

This time, as I began to share all my thoughts and feelings with this person, I burst into anger. I shared with them how pissed-off and disrespected I felt and I said things like, "How dare you say what you said to me!" Once I got everything out I then said aloud, "Now, I will fully listen as the person standing with me shares their Truth." I listened as fully and honestly as I could.

I immediately heard from this person a rant of cursing and anger that he had for me. I kept breathing and listening to all of it, since he had plenty to say. Finally, as he finished, I realized that I was committed to forgiving this person. In that moment I said, "Are you willing to now share our hurt and anger to each other and make it only about us?"

I started sharing why some of the things he said hurt so much and how they related with things that happened to me as a child. As I was sharing I started crying and feeling the pain that I was holding onto from an early age, from my past. Once I finished, there was a different tone in his voice. He started sharing how he never felt good enough because of things that happened in his childhood, and when I reacted a certain way it brought up something that he hadn't healed from his past. I looked at him in the tunnel and gave him a big hug. I thanked him for participating and I released him and the pain out of my mind. And, I realized that it wasn't his Truth that did me wrong, it was his own unconscious personal pain playing out. I also recognized that my reaction revealed a personal pain that I was holding onto.

This was my personal journey... I feel that it's worth sharing with you. I hope this has given you a format to experience forgiveness in your own spiritual practice. Take this practice into your own daily life and be gentle with yourself as you begin to let go of any pain or resentment your holding within. If you feel that you need guidance in letting go of your pain, then speak with someone who you trust... someone who is skilled in holding that space of deep emotional release with you.