What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is giving to yourself.
It is a gift for you on your pathway to everlasting love, one that can help you clear up emotional wounds which may be hampering your success in finding and holding the right partner.
Forgiveness means to free up those hurts inside you. Then you can breathe that clear, heady, elevated air of emotional freedom. And that’s when you become open to the partner who is truly right for you.
As a popular spiritual teacher puts it, “forgiveness is necessary in igniting the spark of love.”
Forgiveness is release. The word “forgive” literally means “to give up,” “to give away.” Forgiveness is a form of unburdening, removing emotional clutter that can keep you blocked from experiencing everlasting love. Forgiveness can lead to emotional freedom and that can lead to change. And it is your life that you want to change.
Forgiveness is about uncovering hurts rather than denying they are there. Forgiveness has to do with acknowledging all those creepy crawly feelings that block you from your joy.
A Weekly Forgiveness Exercise
One simple exercise is to forgive yourself each week for the mistakes you made. Set aside a few minutes to review what went wrong, and how you might better have handled the situation.
A friend of mine, Jane, has learned to stop wasting her time blaming others for what they have done to her. Instead, she opens up her weekly forgiveness ritual with something like this: “I forgive myself for going out on a blind date and expecting love-at-first-sight,” or “I forgive myself for putting up with a man who belittled me.” By forgiving herself in this manner, she remains focused on her needs rather than what is lacking in the other person. As Jane says: “When I release my resentments this way each week, it clears me up inside. I don’t hear that rumble of anger underneath my breath anymore. And it helps me to stay focused on me and my expectations.”
Forgiveness is for giving to yourself what you didn’t get enough of as a child: attention, love, affection, and recognition. We all missed out on something. Whoever or whatever denied you your needs in the past can be forgiven — released — to make more room for what you want to experience in a relationship.
Pamper Yourself with the Affections of Others
Draw yourself out; don’t wait for others to do it for you. Allow them the pleasure of knowing you better. Reward yourself by becoming the center of attention at a party; don’t be afraid to stand out. Notice how other people will love you if you allow them. If you have a pet, take note of how that little animal loves just being around you. Permit other people to enjoy your company in the same way; let yourself be flattered by their attention. Pamper yourself with the affections of others.
Recycling Old Hurts
If you hug almost any human being, they will generally hug you back. And that one little hug per day can prove that the love you have to give is very, very worthy. Forgiveness is daring to become unencumbered by old stale resentments. Recycled trash is still trash. Rancor cankers, and it can manifest eventually as body illness and pain. You wouldn’t dream of eating yesterday’s garbage for dinner tonight, but that’s similar to what you are doing if you keep recycling old hurts through your system.
Forgiveness is Feeling Worthy
Forgiveness is daring to feel worthy of the love you seek, giving up what you may have accepted as love in the past, especially if it was wrong for you. Forgiveness is having the courage to confront a two-fold roadblock: self- forgiveness and for giving-up the limitations of others.
What Forgiveness is Not
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal feelings or your relationship values. We always have options, but we cannot always see them. Try forgiving yourself for “settling” for this or that situation. Ask yourself why you settled.
Doreen dated Mike for a year who did not express the character or integrity she was seeking. It took that long before she realized he was not right for her. “I was angry at myself when it dawned on me that I had ‘settled’,” Doreen said. “I felt lower than an earthworm. But when I stopped beating myself up over this ‘mistake’, I suddenly realized there is no such thing as a mistake. I had learned something valuable with Mike. I was honestly able to face why I had invested so much in a relationship that wasn’t all I wanted. And that made me feel better. I thought Mike and I had so much in common, that naturally the integrity element would be there too. It wasn’t, and I was afraid I would never meet another man who shared common interests with me. I was scared to keep looking for everything I wanted in a man. I had to forgive myself for sacrificing my ideals, and then move on.”
To err is human; to forgive divine
Forgiveness is not what we have been conditioned to believe it is, all our lives: it is not instantaneous godliness. To quote English author Alexander Pope’s wise observation: “To err is human; to forgive divine.”
Yes, we humans make social blunders, we make fools of ourselves daily — that is, we “err.” But forgiving these faux pas, in ourselves and others, is not a matter of putting our halos back on and waving a wand. We tend to be hypercritical of our mistakes as well as those of other people, yet these little sticky social errors are usually just human stumbling blocks.
Forgiveness is Learning and Growing
Forgiveness then becomes a chance to help educate another person if his or her behavior is offensive or detrimental. Or forgiveness can mean learning about more appropriate forms of behavior for ourselves, so we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes or issues. And these positive actions make forgiveness a truly divine opportunity to experience everlasting friendship, at least.
A relationship ends when it needs to end. If the union was a mistake that only means it was a growing experience. It’s okay to make relationship mistakes, if you don’t keep repeating them. And in your next relationship, you’ll make new mistakes; that’s what growing is all about.
Forgiveness Creates Black Pearls of Wisdom
Forgiveness is not a quickie emotion which magically lets you “forgive and forget.” You know, it is more essential to forgive than to forget. As we have learned above, forgiveness is getting the venom out of your system so you won’t carry the festering snake bite into your next relationship. But we don’t want to completely forget those poisons and irritants we have extracted from our failed marriages, friendships, and partnerships.
We have earned the right to retain the memories of our blackest, ugliest relationship experiences and turn them into shiny, attractive “black pearls.” These hard-earned “black pearls” of garnered insight and wisdom will keep us from making the same mistakes over and over. And as you may know, a black pearl is more rare and more priceless on the market than a white pearl.
Or shall we say, experience can be our best teacher?