“Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and then discovering the prisoner was you.” – John Eldredge
I truly believe that forgiveness will set you free. Forgiveness is first a choice, and then a feeling. Every person has had an experience where they feel someone has ‘wronged’ them in some sort of way. The question then is, are you holding on to the negative feelings associated with that experience? A great exercise would be analyzing where you find the most resistance in your week. Take this time to think about where you find resistance or keep a journal and look back on it. Are you resistant when calling your parents; in trusting people; in making new friends? Maybe the resistance comes in the form of not being able to go to the gym, or to a yoga class because of an inability to forgive yourself. Where there is resistance, there is opportunity for growth. Pay attention to your thoughts.
People who are hurt, hurt other people, and the seed of anger only grows when we allow others to impact us negatively. Anger then passes from person to person, a marry-go-round of resentment spinning out of control until everyone is sick. This is where society is stuck – in a playground during recess where the connection between action and consequence are still new and unfamiliar. It needs to stop. Forgiveness is the cure. If we don’t learn to forgive, we allow the person who has wronged us to hold us prisoners in the past and therefore, lose sight of the beauty found in the present moment. According to Doreen Virtue, forgiveness means to “let go of anger and resentment and feel yourself healed. You don’t need to forgive the action, just the person so that you can be at peace.”
Forgive your father or your mother if need be. Forgive your ex, or the person who cuts you off in traffic. Forgive yourself. You are worthy. Have you ever noticed that when you are extremely angry at someone it occupies all of your thoughts? Which in turn dictate your actions, and then before you know it, things are manifesting in your reality that are in alignment with this negative belief system. Because of this, it is easy to say, “See, I knew it! I knew it wasn’t going to work out. It never does!” or “Every time I call my parents they always criticize me! I knew I shouldn’t have called them!” Words like always, and never are a good indication that you are holding on to the rigid belief that things are a certain way. Change is always possible, but it has to start with you.
So how do we forgive the way Doreen Virtue talks about? How do we feel healed? The best technique I have found is visualization. Once you have targeted the experience and person that you have yet to forgive, sit in a quiet spot and take as many deep breaths in and out that you need until you are completely relaxed. Visualize the person. Hear them say sorry. Feel that they mean it. Say whatever you need to say and imagine they respond positively and with a deep sense of regret and understanding for how they’ve hurt you. At this point, I like to hug it out. Do this exercise as many times as you like until you feel at peace with the person.
Lastly, and this is just my personal belief, but because I began to see the world symbolically, rather than literally, I could then see a world that was happening for me, and not to me. This shift in perception granted me the access to understand and trust that we all have sacred contracts with one another and sometimes those contracts manifest in our physical reality as pain and suffering. The reason this is so, is because our soul wants experiences that are going to reveal our deepest wounds so that we may heal them on the road back home to wholeness. Often when we have been hurt by someone there is always a lesson or a gift that blossoms as a result of it but we have to keep trusting that we are supported, believe in our inherent worth, and be willing to change.