A Forgiveness Exercise That Sets Us Free

A Forgiveness Exercise That Sets Us Free     837 words

By: Leigh Burton

Abstract: Why does forgiveness have to be so hard? Why do the words "I'm sorry" not seem enough? Here is an exercise that will release suffering and allow us to quickly move forward so that we can go back to enjoying the incredible things life has to offer.

Every one of us is taught very early in life what forgiveness is all about. That it is important to forgive the unfavorable actions of others so that we can be free from the suffering it has caused. But when we do forgive, in the traditional sense, do we release ourselves from the attachment that has induced pain?

There is a very powerful way to achieve release through forgiveness, but first, let's take a look at what it is about absolution that isn't working for us.

The forgiveness process began the first time we were told that we needed to apologize. Say sorry for hurting our siblings or friends. Say sorry for upsetting our parents. This experience taught us a lot about how to take responsibility for our actions. Our reward was the declaration that we were forgiven, and we were free to move on. It wasn't that simple though. There was still the embarrassment and shame of what we apologized for. If saying "I'm sorry" was enough, then why would we feel a deep desire to indemnify? Maybe the words "I'm sorry" really aren't enough. To be forgiven should be enough to release us from any suffering for the harm that we have caused, and since it isn't, there must be something missing.

When we are wounded by another, we are eager to find a way to move out of the place that we feel the pain of what was done. Holding on to the anger, resentment, and sadness of being ill-considered is extremely toxic and the faster we can let it go the better. We can move on to live our lives from a happy place instead of the awful feelings of being victimized. When we forgive and take notice of the negative emotions still existing, we question ourselves and wonder if we can let go and free ourselves of the darkness that has taken over. Very quickly the story changes, and we move into a place of guilt. Exasperating the circumstances and extending the level of suffering we are to endure.

What about the person that caused the harm? If they were to be held responsible for their actions, should they not have to say "I'm sorry?" Or does it matter? All too often when someone apologizes it doesn't erase the way we feel.

While the whole process of apologizing and forgiveness can be complicated, it doesn't have to be. True forgiveness is an art, and so it should be. It comes with exceptional personal power and can serve us well in our journey. It is capable of allowing us to release ourselves from the talons of having been victimized.

The antagonist can't be truly forgiven until such time we have worked through the feelings we have as a consequence of what happened. To free ourselves from our pain it's important to understand what it is that we are holding onto. What is it at our core that has been triggered? The answer to that question will muster the courage to do what needs to be done next.

The truth is that it isn't the other person that needs forgiveness.
It isn't necessary to achieve self-forgiveness either. It is us that needs to ASK for forgiveness.

With anger, resentment and all of the less than desirable emotions that can arise, there is immense darkness. This darkness is something that we choose to hold in our heart validating our attachment to what has been done. While in this space we are holding the other person responsible for something that is of our own doing. That is being attached to what is causing us pain.

Allow the emotion to exist and respect the gift that it shares. It is sharing what our boundaries are and what we are not willing to tolerate. We can move forward with it as evidence of where we don't want to be. Once the realization sets in, continue the path of life enforcing those boundaries.

To detach from the darkness that can be all-consuming, say the following words. Even if in a place that we are by ourselves, it has the power to provide immediate release. We don't need to say it to whom it is intended, imagining them with us is sufficient. If required, say it a few times.

"Forgive me. Forgive me for using you to hold darkness in my heart where only love should be."

The result is an enormous sense of relief. The mask that we placed on the other is instantly removed, and we no longer have the desire to demonize them. We also remove the mask of a victim that cluttered our visibility. Now we can move forward and feel free from what wasn't serving our journey.

Leigh Burton: Author, International Speaker, NLP Practitioner, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, Emotional Health Coach, Acceptance Commitment Therapist, an expert in letting go, and a lover of life.


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