“Forgiveness is no longer an option but a necessity for healing.”
~ Caroline Myss ~
Forgiveness is a concept that many of us struggle with. We are told from early childhood that we are supposed to forgive others when they hurt us, physically or emotionally, or “turn the other cheek”. The idea here is that we say it’s okay and “let them off the hook”. And we go through our lives letting everyone off the hook on the surface, while we nurture many of these wounds as fear, anger and resentment throughout our lives. From a shamanic perspective, we are giving away our power to those who harmed us.
I stumbled upon the concept of forgiveness that really helped me as I was going through my own healing crisis about twenty years ago. I was working on some old childhood wounding that had been so deeply buried that when it came up, it hit me in the face like a beach ball that had been pushed under water and then suddenly let go. It hit with such a vengeance that I was truly experiencing a “dark night of the soul” and healing seemed unobtainable. I had done soul recoveries and brought back many soul pieces from those experiences. I was working with a therapist and doing all the things one should do to heal from a trauma, but the nightmares still came and the anger, bitterness, and fear still raged in my physical and emotional being. Forgiveness was a concept that was farthest from my consciousness. How the %#/* could I forgive these people for their unspeakable acts?
One day I was driving and listening to Carolyn Myss’ Energy Anatomy on the cassette player in my car (yes it WAS that long ago). And she began talking about forgiveness. My ire came to the surface, but what she was saying also caught my attention…Forgiveness is about self-love. Forgiveness is caring for yourself enough to forgive those in your past so the wounds no longer hurt you. Your wounds are YOUR wounds and don’t hurt those who hurt you.
So, the idea here it that we were hurt or victimized, then, we continue to nurture and “pick at” these wounds, hurting our self and remaining in victim mode. We may have done several soul retrievals, like I had, and gotten back our soul pieces from the original trauma…but we keep giving them back to the perpetrators! This really made sense. I’m sure the people who harmed me probably never thought about me after the incidents, but they were in my mind and my energy field daily. So the process of forgiveness began and with it true healing.
An important concept here is separating forgiving the person from forgiving the act. Some acts are NOT okay…they are NOT forgivable, but the PERSON is. This concept was easy for me to understand, because as parents we were taught when disciplining the kids to be sure to separate the act from the child. In other words, what you did was “bad”, but you are not a “bad” child. Thank you parenting books!
Forgiveness is a very conscious act. It may require us to look deep into our festering wounds, look at the benefits we gain from “picking” at them, and assessing if the benefits of healing outweigh the current benefits. It’s not an easy act. But what better act of self-love than to set yourself free from this ongoing cycle of pain? Once we begin to forgive the PERSON for hurting us, we begin to regain our power. We are no longer victims, but free to heal, grow and as Carolyn Myss says “The consequence of a genuine act of forgiveness borders on the miraculous. It may, in my view, contain the energy that generates miracles themselves.”
This view of forgiveness has helped me and many of my clients over the years to release themselves from the bonds of victimization and become more whole and complete. May it help you on your journey.
Until next time.
Mitakuye Oyasin (A Lakota prayer reminding us we are all related),