Somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to convince myself I was a forgiving person because I was still able to have relationships or interactions with the people who’d wronged me. I thought I had forgiveness mastered. Was I accepting or forgiving? Was I forgiving everyone or only those I wanted to? Can everything be forgiven or are there things that only the Most High can forgive? Can unforgiveness lead to unfavorable consequences for me?
Thoughts: I’m really, good at accepting, not so good at forgiving. I would think I had forgiven someone until I’d see them and my blood would slowly begin to boil with anger until the unresolved became obvious. I was selectively forgiving but I wasn’t forgiving everyone. Cases that involved harm or malice toward my children or loved ones who may have been unable to defend or protect themselves, were not worthy of my forgiveness. How naïve was I. As Iesha stated yesterday, forgiveness is a necessary part of self- healing: more for us than the other person. I was making myself forgive people that I felt had to be, that I wanted to be, or that would frequently be present in my life (family, loved ones, employers, neighbors, educators, health care providers, baby daddies). I figured there was no sense in holding a grudge or having ill feelings towards someone I would, by choice or requirement, have to interact with regularly. I was suppressing emotions to make forgiveness possible or easier. I believed that some things were unforgivable by humans but not by a higher power: God, Jehova, Allah, Jah, Elohim, Yahweh, Shiva, Akal Murat. (If your religion or spirituality was not represented, I apologize)
I was experiencing insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, weight loss, hair loss, lack of desire to participate in any romantic interactions, misplaced blame, animosity, mistrust, distrust…I was going through it, sometimes all at once.
Like many thoughts, these led to discovery. They guided me to strip, cleanse, dissect, deconstruct, reconstruct, raise my confidence and elevate my consciousness. I learned so much about myself, my actions, my purpose. The journey has been amazing, not every experience was pleasant, but each was substantial to understand forgiveness, come up with a plan of action, and to execute.
What is forgiveness?
The act of forgiving is defined as conscious and deliberate decisions to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group that has harmed you. It is intentional.
- Acknowledge the situation and/or person requiring forgiveness.
- Identify and/or locate the emotion that emerged from the situation.
- Navigate the feeling.
- Process the feelings.
- Acknowledge the situation and/or person requiring forgiveness
I began doing yoga regularly. Mostly at home (I studied chakras, essential oils and stones. I tried to learn meditation. Notice I said try. And I attended counseling. The counseling helped tremendously with assigning blame, as I was feeling guilty for someone else’s actions. I am responsible for the person being around but not for what he’d done.), but sometimes I found inexpensive or free classes to visit. Last year, I even stayed the weekend at Yogaville, in Buckingham, VA.
- Identify and/or locate the emotion that emerged from the situation
Simply, how do you feel about it? Do you recognize the emotion or reaction? Where is it coming from? Where can you feel it? Practice mindfulness and bring awareness to your body. My yoga practice was becoming more routine and I was getting good at the poses but still working on the breathing. And yes, I continued to try meditation.
- Navigate the feeling
Cry, exert physical energy (work out, sex, kick boxing, construction), cook, write (journal, poetry, music), listen to music, dance, clean, garden, paint, draw, sew, sleep, soak, destruct something, burn something, find something…whatever gets the job done. Take time to be present in the emotion. If you don’t feel any better or different, do it again, or do something else.
- Process the feelings
Process – A series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained: a chemical process: The end being self-expression: emotional release.
Go where you find clarity and can be at peace and free to be, without judgement (water, bathroom, on the road, your alter, church, in nature). At this step, take responsibility for your part, good and bad. Whatever the situation, if we are involved then we play some part. Even standing in as an extra can be considered a “nonacting” part. Acknowledge, appreciate and be grateful for lessons learned and gifts received.
This step was an issue for me. I didn’t know how to. I was hurt: in pain. I thought crying or yelling equaled releasing, but I was holding on to that hurt and pain (those emotions, negative sensations. Punishing myself over and over and over. It wasn’t until I cried 12 times about the same thing, over a 12 month time frame, that I said, “something ain’t right”. I had so many unsettled matters; some forgotten by accident and some on purpose. It made more sense to keep on keepin’ on, which couldn’t be done while dwelling on or being knocked off track by undesirable happenings.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try meditation again. We will explore meditation more extensively in another post but if you don’t think you’re doing it “properly” just keep at it.
I was stubborn and proud. I knew why I was mad, who I was mad at and I knew that they did not deserve my forgiveness. They had taken enough from my family and myself that I was not going to let them have that too. I though I was healing, working on me, making sure my children were alright but I was still stuck, tethered to my pain, hate, disgust, deceit, disloyalty, disappointment, abuse, abandonment and fear… unrelinquished feelings.
Moving on from that place became the goal. I don’t know about you, but I have too much to do to be stuck. Eventually I felt at peace with a lightened heart, clearer conscious, a renewed confidence, clearer vision and stronger faith. Once you have all those things, processing and releasing are more accomplishable. That doesn’t necessarily mean easier; it is sometime dependent on what the forgiveness is going on. At least you are aware of the necessary, which is half the battle. Now let the necessary occur and keep it movin’.