Monday, February 29, 2016

How to forgive when forgiveness doesn't come easy

     "Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” ~ Anne Lamott, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

     "True forgiveness must include completely letting go of victim consciousness." ~ Colin Tipping, Radical Forgiveness

     The Anne Lamott quote is pretty harsh, but it makes a good point. Withholding forgiveness creates more suffering to us than the person we are withholding forgiveness from. But that doesn't make forgiveness easy - especially if you use traditional definitions of forgiveness.

Traditional Forgiveness vs Radical Forgiveness

     The traditional definition of forgiveness assumes someone has done something wrong that needs to be excused or pardoned. But true forgiveness is the realization that there's nothing wrong because what we see in our lives is simply a match for what we vibrate in.  If we vibrate in victim, we attract victimization. But of course this is unconscious.  I want to make it clear that if you are attracting victimization in your life, you aren't doing it on purpose and you aren't doing anything wrong! There is no judgment in energetic vibration.  You can read more about that here.  The point is, once you recognize what you are vibrating in, you receive the gift of awareness, because awareness means you now have the option to do something about it instead of unconsciously repeating the pattern.

The Gift of Awareness
     Let me give you an example of how awareness can become a gift. I recently went through a period of time when angry men kept showing up in my dreams and in my life - the angry client, or the guy cursing at the cashier next to me in line at the grocery store. One evening, two different men yelled at me as I passed them on my bike. I could no longer ignore the pattern.

     Naturally I felt hurt and victimized by these verbal attacks. But deep down I knew that whatever was happening in my outer life was a reflection of what was going on in my inner life. I had to look within at my inner angry man, a part of me I didn't like looking at. Now I hadn't done anything wrong and there was no judgment in the realization that I was carrying anger. It was just unpleasant to connect with this inner anger.

     By having the courage to look within, I shifted my energy from disempowered victim to empowered awareness. I needed to forgive these men that kept showing up and mirroring my inner angry man back to me.  And I needed to forgive myself for carrying anger.  What I learned  from the angry men was self awareness. And in becoming aware I received the gift of healing my anger through forgiveness.

Healing with Forgiveness
     An effective way to heal through forgiveness is the Ho'oponpono prayer. This simple prayer is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and reconciliation used by healing priests for someone suffering from physical illness. It is: I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.  

     As I sat in my backyard and said these words repeatedly to myself while deep breathing, a deep sense of peace came over me. And afterwards I slept better, had less anxiety, more energy and no more angry men showed up in my life.  Indeed, the results can be miraculous - read more about that here along with more about how to do this simple prayer.

     When you notice a pattern in your life, ask yourself:
  •      What is this showing me?
  •      What does this experience or person remind me of about myself?
  •      What can I learn from it?
  •      What needs to be forgiven?
     And then try the Ho'oponpono prayer.

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