Number 17 in a Series
What are the situations over which you cannot forgive others or yourself?
For years, I listened to both New Age and spiritual/religious teachers speak and write about the wisdom of forgiveness. I learned that holding a grudge or being defensive and angry bound me to those very feelings and judgments. I believed that if I could not forgive myself, I could neither receive forgiveness nor forgive others.
But, there were many things that I was not able to fully forgive in both myself and others. Judging certain behaviors and feelings as wrong, locked me into blame and self-righteousness. That meant that forgiveness, even if I was to give it, was the pardoning of transgressions.
Bestowing the wand of absolution was condescending and alienating and certainly not nurturing to others or myself. I was stuck, until I learned how compassionate forgiveness makes all the difference.
The heart is non-judgmental. Forgiveness that comes from the heart understands that given our fears and ignorance, we are always doing the best we can. With that understanding, there is nothing to forgive; there is only acceptance.
Acceptance does not condone behavior. Acceptance does not mean that I don’t see some actions as harmful and need to protect myself from harm. It does not take away my sadness over what I missed due to my own fears and disconnected behaviors or the fear and behavior of others.
When I am truly accepting, I know that given the fears and beliefs that create feelings and behaviors, things that occur could not have been any different. Thus, forgiveness naturally follows.
Most importantly for my self-esteem is being able to forgive myself. That is where true healing happens. Feeling better about myself, compassionate forgiveness enables me to feel more powerful.
Accepting and practicing compassionate forgiveness did not come easy. First steps meant understanding that when I am not able to be forgiving there are powerful beliefs and fears blocking my ability to do it. This acceptance frees me to take the next step of learning about what are those blocks.
For example, I discovered the fear that if I felt compassion, I would be more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. I learned to respect the fact that until I had more confidence in my ability to set boundaries, my self-protecting behavior was necessary.
Had I not been able to respect my self-protectiveness I could have learned more about what was blocking that acceptance. Giving myself that acceptance, would have left me feeling more content and eventually ready to take the next step. That step would have included learning more about setting boundaries without losing my compassion and that therefore were respectful both to myself and others.
For Your Journey
1. What effect does blame and holding a grudge have on you?
2. How does thinking that, “You are not to blame and neither are they” change your thoughts and feelings?
3. What are your fears of opening your heart and feeling compassionate forgiveness for those who have hurt you?
4. What steps can you take to move more into compassionate forgiveness?
5. Share-it-forward. Talk about these ideas with a person who will not judge you or try to talk you out of them.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
Next Week: # 18 – Becoming a Therapon: A Simple Yet Powerful Skill
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr/Isidro Urena