What is Forgiveness?

What do you mean when you say the word "forgiveness"? For me, it means surrender, letting go, allowing, and acceptance. Acceptance of what is, of what has been, and acceptance of ourselves just the way we are. Forgiveness means that we choose to love LOVE more than we choose to hate the world.

There are many ways to define "forgiveness". Traditional Forgiveness implies that even though something really terrible happened, we stop obsessing over it. We "let bygones be bygones" and we allow the passage of time to help soothe our aching hearts. We may even move toward a kind of partial compassion with the thought, "he or she didn't know any better" or "they were doing the best they could."

With Traditional Forgiveness, there are distinct roles that we and our adversaries play, which usually take the form of victim and perpetrator. Sometimes we are the victims, and the other person is the perpetrator. In these cases, we often feel anger, fear, betrayal, jealousy, disillusionment and hatred when we contemplate what happened. In other situations, we are the perpetrators, and we feel fear, guilt, shame and despair when we think about what we did to our victim(s).

Forgiveness and Conflict

Distressing situations often happen during childhood. Developmentally, we must respond from a child's innocent point of view, and most people retain both the pain and the beliefs that were triggered from hurtful family and social interactions. We also feel the deep impact of societal conditioning, and we take on ideas about who we are as we relate to our gender, color, appearance, intellect, economic status, and sexual preferences.

Each traumatic event stands out in our minds, illustrated by many colorful details. We remember what happened (or, to be more accurate, we conjure up a current version of our story about what happened) and we begin to feel the familiar corresponding painful emotions. When our memories stir up uncomfortable emotions, we often suppress them deep into our subconscious minds.

Our minds think, "If I feel that much pain again, I'll die. I can't handle it. If I go in there, I'll never get out."

In reaction to the painful events of our lives, we form conclusions about the nature of reality. We attach our life essence to certain unconscious beliefs about what is real, about the way life works, about who, what and how we are. Some of our favorite beliefs are:

• I'm not good enough
• I'm unlovable
• I must have done something horribly wrong
• I can't do it right
• I'll never be good enough
• Everyone will leave me
• The world is a dangerous place
• I can't trust
• God hates me

Sometimes we are not aware that we are actually harboring these beliefs about ourselves and about life. “Not me!” we think. Well, unless we are living in absolute unity with the Oneness at every moment of our existence, some of these stowaway beliefs may still be crouching in the recesses of our minds. We can tell if they are around by listening to our thoughts as we go about our day.

Perhaps these thoughts are more familiar:

* It'll never turn out right
* Those people are idiots
* Watch your back - you never know what's coming
* They don't like me
* Those people always get the breaks (and I don't)
* Money is filthy and unspiritual
* I hate my body
* Old age is a drag
* I can never decide
* The weather sucks
* I can't do it because...

Sound familiar?

Our physical bodies are also excellent barometers. The quality of our thoughts directly affects our brains, hearts, blood and overall health. Aches, syndromes, diseases and physical weaknesses of all sorts are indications of what is going on in our minds.

Even the way we breathe and the way we relax (or don't relax) give us hints about the inner workings of our thoughts and emotions. The more we think about the upsetting events that have occurred in our lives, the more we actually create experiences of fear, defensiveness, attack and withdrawal that reoccur as patterns throughout our lives.

These themes are usually easier to see in the lives of everyone else, but as we sharpen our desire to live in the truth of what is, rather than the illusion of how we wish life would be, we begin to honestly look at our own discordant patterns. It is at this point in our development that forgiveness begins to shine like a warm beacon of hope and new possibilities.

When we forgive, we don't need to condone the actions that were done by ourselves or others. We can still empower ourselves and we may choose to use the legal system for support in seeking justice. This is the arena in which apologies, reconciliation, compensation, mediation and other conflict resolution techniques are helpful and appropriate.

Radical Forgiveness

With Radical Forgiveness, we explore the deep pain that we feel when we perceive that we were attacked or betrayed, or when we attack or betray someone else. We also honestly touch upon the places where we have attacked or betrayed our divine Self. This is the pain and sadness of the human condition, of feeling separate, alone and afraid.

Radical Forgiveness adds another element to the picture: the World of Divine Truth. This is not a religious idea; rather, it is an awareness that who we are is not just physical, emotional and mental -in addition, we are all sacred spiritual beings, having a temporary human experience. We realize that on a spiritual level, no one is ever hurt or healed. We are in a state of perfect, eternal wholeness, in unity with our Creator at all times.

If this is so, then what is the purpose of this human life? One purpose is that we are participating in an Earth school for our souls, so that we can expand our awareness of the Oneness that we are. Then what do the patterns of trauma and heartbreak mean? How can we understand the lessons we have come to learn?

We begin to understand that everyone who has played a part in our individual dramatic play was there as a purposeful, eternal friend. We start to take responsibility for everything that we have created, knowing that we also - simultaneously - played an essential part for everyone we have ever touched.

We realize, "So life wasn't out to get me after all!" We learn to include ALL of what has taken place, no matter what it felt like or looked like. Bringing this new vitality all the way into the physical cells of our body, we wash away old beliefs with loving, forgiving compassion.

Find your freedom by forgiving your world.

Author's Bio: 

Ana Holub is a forgiveness counselor, teacher and mediator. She specializes in practical skills for your happiness, peace and inner connection. Get free downloads and learn more about how forgiveness can open up a whole new life for you! Individual, couples or group sessions. Phone sessions, too! www.anaholub.com