How To Forgive

There were two posts today in a group that I help administrate on about forgiveness from people genuinely seeking HOW to forgive. So I thought I would give my perspective.  First of all, most people think that forgiveness is about the other person; it is not.  It is about you, and it’s a process very similar to the grief process, in fact the grief process is part of forgiveness.  So let me say what grief is first.  It is a loss.  In terms of forgiveness; it is a loss of a person, a set of expectations in a relationship, disappointment, and many other emotions.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, top grief researcher defines grief into five stages:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  These stages are also common experiences in dealing with the forgiveness process. Let’s face it; you’ve been hurt on some level, from a major level to a minor level, so you have to process your feelings about the incident if there was an incident or about the entire relationship or situation if it was a culmination of things.

You have to do the inner work about it. This is where it is hard; most people don’t or are unwilling to deal with themselves and their own process in it.  It can be ugly; you have to look at your own part of the situation.  In a relationship, any kind of a relationship, even if it is as simple as just an exchange you are fifty percent responsible.  Half of it is how you reacted, responded, perceived, and processed the situation.

In terms of forgiveness, it is one hundred percent on you.  It doesn’t matter if that other person is sorry or not, it’s about what you are holding on to.  If you cannot forgive someone, it means you are stuck, holding on to the hurt, the anger, all of the emotions, and the situation, whatever happened.  When you can forgive, it means you have done your own inner work about it, processed the stages and come to acceptance and then you let it go.  It doesn’t mean that whatever happened didn’t happen, didn’t suck, didn’t hurt, wasn’t wrong, or whatever, it simply means that you have decided to let it go so that it no longer has power over you.  It doesn’t mean that you have to be friends again or accept that behavior, in fact in a lot of situations if you allow it again, it means you haven’t really learned anything about the situation, whether that is boundary setting, self- care or whatever.  Forgiveness is about you.  It’s self-care.  It’s letting go after you have processed, analyzed, and owned your part in it.  The secret is; if you can’t own your part of the situation, you won’t be able to get to forgiveness.  In any exchange of energies, we have to accept that half is us.  It’s not always comfortable, but it is necessary.

When I was young, I married for the first time to someone that I had a ten year relationship with, all through high school etc.  He was very abusive and beat me every day for the entire ten years.  I eventually got away and got divorced.  It took me a long time to work through it and to forgive him and move forward out of fear, anger, loss, and all of the emotions you can imagine that would be connected with that.

Two years ago, he found me on Face Book and sent me a friend request.  I took a breath and accepted it.  I sent him a pm and said, “Well, after 25 years, what do you have to say for yourself?”  I had already forgiven him and moved on, but I wanted to know what he wanted.  He said, “I’m sorry.”  I let him call me.  We talked on the phone for several hours.  He said everything I ever wanted him to say, “I didn’t deserve to be treated that way, he was wrong and a jerk, He screwed up,” etc. We laughed and cried and healed.  I stayed friends with him for two days and then blocked him.  He didn’t deserve to be part of my life again, but healing had occurred and he received from me what he needed, which was forgiveness that he thought he didn’t have.  I had let him go many years earlier, but now he was in his process.  If I had not done my own inner work, I would have been stuck like he was and I would not have been able to have the strength to accept his request or the strength to take care of myself and block him.

Forgiveness is about self care; I keep saying it, but that’s what it is at the bottom line. Not every one gets an apology, and not all apologies fix things.  At the core there is only the work.  You can do spell work, and all kinds of things about the situation, but the truth is that only further binds you to the person and the situation.  When you do your inner work, you heal your own wounds, you learn to stand tall without anyone else giving you permission to forgive or be forgiven. That’s a false power, and an egotistical one.  It’s about severing karmic ties if you believe those kinds of things and it’s about letting go of the energy that’s charged about the relationship or situation. Only then can you find the peace of forgiveness for yourself.  The Buddha says, “Anger is like an acid that corrodes the vessel before it ever reaches another.”  This is the work that must be done in order to move into acceptance and then forgiveness.

2016 copyright by Katie Pifer



6 thoughts on “How To Forgive

  1. This post struck a cord so deep inside me, I’ve read it over and over.
    There’s 2 people that I’ve refused to forgive and this really helped me see that maybe it’s time to work on letting the very bad feelings go… Thank you for this!

    Liked by 1 person

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