This path is hard, and forgiveness can be even harder. Anybody that is on this path right now will tell you that. There is a lot of pain that gets triggered as we go through this process of awakening. We start to see where well-meaning parents, caregivers and teachers passed on their own wounds to us. We start to see where we sabotage ourselves. We start to see where we messed up and how we could have done better. We get a better sense of ourselves and as we do that, every mistake we have ever made floats to the surface.
This is usually the spot where we start blaming ourselves for everything. We can be very hard on ourselves for everything that’s happened in our lives. We may start to wonder if we’re good enough or if we can change it or be better than we were. The answer is, of course, yes, we can. It starts with forgiveness of self. It starts with letting ourselves off the hook. It’s the realization that at every moment, regardless of what was going on, we were doing the best we could. It may not seem very good to us from where we are now, but it was the best we could do then and that has to be okay.
Forgiveness gets to be a little bit of a trigger word in spiritual circles. It’s the first response anyone has when asked how to deal with something. “Forgive yourself, forgive the other person. Just let it go.” For most of us, that’s not an easy task. Letting ourselves and the people around us off the hook is a complicated thing that can take a lot of time to do. So, what’s the alternative? How do we approach this differently?
It’s important to recognize that forgiveness is the last step in the process of healing, not the first one. To get to a place where we’re able to forgive, we have to be able to drop the story. We have to be able to get okay with what happened, and that doesn’t mean liking what happened, it’s just acceptance. This thing happened and I can’t go back and change it. Once we get to a place of acceptance, we let go of the story of what happened and then we work through the associated emotions around the event. Only then can we start to forgive ourselves and others.
Forgiveness becomes a trigger for people because it gets viewed as the only step. Forgiveness is the answer to everything. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow people the opportunity to feel their emotions and work through things properly. Forgiveness becomes a process of denying things instead of dealing directly with them. Squishing it down and forgetting it happened is not forgiveness.
When we allow emotions to flow like water, they are released and not held on to by the human. They are free to come and go as needed. This way, memories are just images or videos with no sound, there is no emotion tied to them. The emotion is the trigger point of a memory. It’s the thing that causes the pain. The release or flow of emotion means the memory no longer has a trigger point. This makes forgiveness a much simpler process.
Humans are taught early on to hold on to their emotions. Children are often told not to cry when things happen. Not crying when we get hurt is a perceived sign of strength. It is a weakness however because when we hold on to these emotions, they stay in the body and they make us sick. That sore knee or back is stuck emotional energy that was never released. Feeling better requires releasing all of that stuck emotional energy. It requires expressing it, including crying and only then can we feel better, only then can we forgive.