Synopsis: The Blocks to True Forgiveness — Forgiveness is a self-responsible action aimed at you, and you alone. You forgive to set yourself free.
Took a week off to entertain a friend here in Costa Rica.
A you’ll see in the article, I mention my FREE booklet, The Watcher. Being me, mentioning it led to rewriting it and reformatting it and adding some stuff to it. You can click the link below, or this one! Please note! The booklet is in pdf format, and is FREE, but you also can help us out by paying whatever you think is fair.
Of Wayne’s many books, the one closest to today’s topic is: This Endless Moment
A friend of mine sent me an email the other day, and among other things, asked this question:
Here’s a thought to write about on the blog — forgiveness. I read that it’s all about the self i.e. letting go. Christ seems the most tangible example in history. But what are the blocks in true forgiveness?
I think I’ll address forgiveness, but briefly mention reconciliation, as they are different.
- The act of forgiveness is one-sided — as my friend put it, it’s about the self — about letting go.
- Reconciliation is actually working the issue through with the other person(s) — the offended and offending party come to a resolution. In AA, steps 8–10 address reconciliation in the opposite direction, as the “offending party” first owns, then makes amends for their actions.
Looking at Forgiveness, Blame, and the Blocks to Forgiveness
I think that the key theme for The Pathless Path is that self-responsibility is the only way to get anywhere with ones life.
To toss out an alternate view, just look South of the border, to the States.
Trump is a blamer, as are his followers. Everyone else is to blame — the government, people who are different from “WASPs,” etc. for everything the Trumpite doesn’t like. Such a sense of self-satisfaction, blaming.
It just doesn’t go anywhere, because blame solves nothing. And what needs solving is the mess the Trumpites have made for themselves.
Take coal miners. Odd twist, eh? Their industry is dying, and on and on they go about their history, their towns, how government has let them down, how they should be able to dig coal if they want to.
It’s like little kids screaming, “I don’t wanna!”
I wonder if carriage makers and buggy-whip makers, oil lamp makers, etc. pulled the same fit when their industries died? Probably. And they’d have wanted Trump, too.
Self-responsibility like going back to school and starting over.
All without screaming, “But, it’s not fair! Why should I have to behave differently?” But I digress, just a bit.
Forgiveness is letting go.
Forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with the actions of the other person. It has nothing to do with what the other person does when you forgive them.
Back when I was counselling, people would go on and on about why forgiveness was difficult, or impossible: “My parents, my spouse, my kid… did this and this and this, and I can’t forgive them.” Or, “I want my parents, or spouse, or kids to love me, and they don’t.”
The last one was fun, as quite a few then admitted that the other person was dead. So whatever they thought they wanted wasn’t coming their way.
I’d point out that the distress they were feeling was internally generated, and had nothing to do with the other person.
This was a hard sell.
So, let me say it again. What you feel inside is yours: you’re making it up as you go. It’s your internal theatre!
If you happen to have a sibling, do you have stories from growing up that you remember differently? Say, a story you continue to hurt yourself over, and your sib doesn’t?
Well, whatever happened, happened. How you and your sibling define what happened is internal — personal.
This is why forgiveness is internal.
I’m not going to get into a big discussion over past events (or even ones that just happened.) I’m not making light of death, war, starvation, assault, abuse. I’m simply acknowledging that such stuff happens, is difficult, and needs to be let go of.
By “let go,” I mean, put down… stop playing with. I call playing with painful memories mental masturbation.
Our minds are not our friend. Our minds love to torture us. I’ve never read a perfect description of why, but most of us are wired to make ourselves miserable.
Let me say it again. What we choose to make ourselves miserable over is internal and personal, and is never about another person.
Which is why when a friend complains to you about some imagined affront they imagine they’ve experienced, you don’t react as they are reacting. Or why, when something tragic happens, there are widely different reactions.
Forgiveness is about choosing to let go.
I wish this was easy. For the majority of us who have not embraced our wholeness, forgiveness is a process.
Example: back in 1996 some rather dramatic stuff happened in my life. I was miserable with it for days, and it took months for me to work it through.
For a year or 2 after it happened, every morning, during my shower, I’d chew about a couple of people, former friends, who were instigators. I’d imagine all kinds of dire stuff, and then “wash it off along with the soap.”
Probably 6 months in, I began a process of actually forgiving them, by dropping the dire images as they arose. I seldom think of them anymore, and when I do, almost always, I feel “neutral.”
This morning, 20 years later, I woke up chewing on them — on the situation. Must have been dreaming. So, I gave myself permission to chew for 15 minutes, then dropped it.
This reminds me that forgiveness is a choice AND a process — and you forgive again as you need to (each time you bother yourself)
I’m not much into affirmations, or even muttering “I forgive you.” This morning was typical. I realized what I was doing, gave myself a few minutes to chew, then had a breath, got up, and got going with my day. Since I don’t give much credence to what I do in my head, this once again worked — my mind let go as soon as I decided I was once again done chewing.
Some years ago, I wrote a booklet called The Watcher… it’s about dealing with depression and other annoying voices in our heads. I decided to link to it here, and that led to me spending the last week expanding and editing it. The booklet is FREE! (Although you can also leave a donation… )
You can use the same plan included in The Watcher to work on forgiveness. Just click here — you’ll end up on The Phoenix Centre Press site
My friend wondered about the impediments to forgiveness.
Here’s the non-news: the impediments are self-created. Please, repeat after me: no one is doing anything to you. The only person, inside of you, that messes with you, is YOU!
1) Liking to feel bad: Forgiveness requires giving up on feeling sorry for yourself. My mom was a master at making herself a poor victim, hard done by. Her sighs were dramatic. Never solved a thing, but being able to think, for example, that she was the sickest person in the room rang her chimes.
She never could answer the question, “But why do you want to be the sickest person in the room?’
Feeling bad, or stupid, or “to blame” is addictive, because when you do it initially, people rush in to care-take. But it gets old fast, and friends get tired of the “poor me” stuff, so people caught in “poor me” have to create ever-new stories to defend their stance.
2) Martyr-complex: Ah, martyrs… poor things… everyone is out to get them. Others are blamed for everything, from marriages dissolving, to bad parenting, to a generic ongoing misery. Martyrs predict dire outcomes, none of which ever happen. But boy are they smug in their martyrdom.
It’s hard to give martyrdom up, as self-responsibility (which includes accepting that my feelings are created solely by me, not ever by others…) is hard and scary.
Besides, martyrdom is respected in some circles, apparently.
3) “I’m not done yet”: I used to see clients who didn’t forgive because they hadn’t “extracted my pound of flesh yet.” Getting even, getting over on someone, blame and punishment — many are the folk caught in such drama. Trump, anyone?
4) The Tortured, Wounded puppy: This is #1, writ large. People won’t let go because they aren’t done torturing themselves yet. They proudly take on the banner of “bad person,” and cut pieces off of themselves. I can only imagine what lesson they are teaching their children, about themselves, about dealing with failure, about how one relates, etc.
I could write a few more, but you get it.
Forgiveness is not related to what you imagine happened, it’s not about blame, is not about retribution. It’s about moving on. Letting go. Getting a life. And it’s about self-responsibility.
When I put my attention outward, there is always going to be a boogeyman. I can always find something or someone to freak out over. (There’s a hurricane forming, today, over E. Costa Rica, and it may track this way. Woo. Scary. Well, no. I just asked Dar. We might move downstairs on Thursday, but that’s it. Make plan, move on.)
Update: it missed us completely.
Freak outs are optional. Self-flagellation is optional. Forgiveness is optional.
But if you want your life to actually be useful, it’s time to let go of the games, get real, and move on.
Forgiveness is not some mystical, magical, religious act. It’s basic self-preservation.