Forgiveness is the Ultimate Act of Self Love
Forgiveness can be a really sticky issue. Everyone knows it is "blessed" to forgive, yet most of us secretly—or not-so-secretly— harbor grudges, carry resentments, relive betrayals, and plot revenge, if only in our fantasies. After all, we “earned” those stripes through our own pain and anguish. If we let all that go, we lose part of ourselves, don’t we?? If we let it go, it means it doesn't matter that we were hurt, doesn't it?? Often people resist forgiving because they believe that in doing so they are condoning the bad behavior, invalidating their own experience and pain, pretending it never happened, and letting the person off "scot free." That is simply not the case.
Forgiveness means acknowledging and accepting that something very painful happened or, yes, was done to you… and then letting it go and leaving it in the past where it belongs, so you can heal and move on in your own life. The other person probably moved on a long time ago!
And remember, it is totally up to you what, if any, future relationship you have with that person, and that will likely depend on whether he/she apologized, expressed true remorse, made amends, and worked to earn your trust again. Remember the adage: “Hurt me once, shame on YOU. Hurt me twice, shame on ME.” It's true! "Turning the other cheek" may mean turning and walking away! We definitely don’t have to go back for a “second dose,” and it behooves us to learn from our experiences. We can only learn who people really are by observing, and sometimes experiencing, their actions. Every action is information about who a person is and whether we want him/her in our lives. And, as Maya Angelou said, "When a person shows you who they are, believe them!"
Holding on to past grievances is like permanently holding ourselves in the moment of the pain so we can relive it over and over again. When we are still stuck emotionally in a painful event, we are stuck firmly in the past, not moving forward with our lives, and we are giving our lives over to that single event. It becomes a defining moment for us. Many people actually define their entire existence in terms of what someone else did to them years, or even decades ago! Is it possible they want their entire life to become a shrine to one painful event? Why? What is the emotional payoff for that?
Think of it this way: Someone walks up and hits you in the head with a baseball bat and walks away. Instead of going home to get first aid and heal your wound, you pick up the baseball bat and, over the next few years, periodically pick up the bat and hit yourself in the head again. By the end of five years, you’ve hit yourself in the head a few thousand times, with your built-up anger and resentment adding force to each blow. The person who originally hit you with the bat only did it once. So, at the end of the five years, who caused you the most pain and the most harm? That person or you?
Emotional pain, anger, resentment, and bitterness build up in our systems if we don’t vent them and let them go. Emotions are intended to be Energy in Motion, and emotional energies can cause all kinds of problems if they don’t move out of our systems. They are like toxic fumes that continually swirl around us. They make us sick and, worse, attract more toxic fumes... that will attract more painful events... that will emit more toxic fumes...
We create a continuing loop, and each time we relive the event in our minds, the neural networks that were created become deeper and stronger, so it is easier to “fall back” into that thought and feeling. It poisons our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our lives, and often the lives of those around us. Before long, we view everything through that filter and our vision, our thoughts, and our emotional processes are so poisoned that the only thing we can see, think, or feel is pain, anger, resentment, and bitterness. We begin to believe that Life is defined by that, and we no longer allow anything else in, because our outer reality always proves that our beliefs are true!
It also traps us in victim mode. By holding on to past grievances and marinating ourselves in those toxic emotions, we give every ounce of our power away to the other person. We give up responsibility for ourselves and our emotional state of being, we wallow in our self-pity, and we give others power over our lives.
The truth is, no one can truly hurt us unless we let them. (OUCH!) Knowingly or unknowingly, we contribute to our own pain. We may not have control over what others do but, contrary to popular belief, we DO have control over how we respond. We can cling to the pain and relive it, or we can heal and walk away. In fact, it is never the experiences that create our lives and who we are, it is how we respond to them. Do we learn and grow and rise above, or do we fall and wallow and give up? It really is our choice.
As is so often the case, we can learn so much from the children. Kids know how to “shake it off,” unless the adults teach them to cling to their pain. A happy child falls, skins a knee, has mom “fix it,” and then runs out to play again. Kids accept that pain is just something that happens in life. They know all too well that sometimes people are mean and do things that hurt them, and they don’t let it stop them. We could use a lot more of that!
We owe it to ourselves to forgive. It is all for US, not for them. Forgiveness is truly a "selfish act," and it really does set us free.
So how do we do that? When someone betrays us; abuses us; takes advantage of us; causes physical, mental, or emotional harm, how do we work our way to the point where we can forgive them and let it go? How do we, as Jiminy Cricket used to say, “Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again”?
It isn’t always easy, and we generally have to go one step at a time, but it may be the most important part of our healing process. If we can reframe our understanding of the event, we can often change our perspective enough to forgive and make lemonade from those lemons. Here are some ways to reframe:
Recognize that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have at the time. This includes ALL resources, includes emotional understanding and capacity, self-esteem, knowledge, wisdom, experience, energy, ability to empathize with others, and level of overwhelm. Most people are running on empty, especially in the last few years: they are stretched so thin, they don’t have enough time, energy, money, strength, or mental or emotional capacity to cope. People are running on auto-pilot, and when a complex situation presents itself that requires discernment, integrity, generosity, kindness, and love, often they only have the ability to react out of fear. They cannot think about the impact of their actions on other people, because they are struggling just to manage a situation and get through it.
Even when people do try to consider others, they still don’t really know the full impact of their actions; none of us can ever really know, because a person’s reaction to what we do is based not only on what we do, but also on their entire emotional history.
This is an important distinction: our reactions and sensitivities to what others do is our own, based on everything that has ever happened to us and how we have reacted. People can push our buttons without even knowing we have those buttons, and we can push theirs. Heck, I can push people's buttons just by walking into a room!! What is perfectly fine to one person can be highly offensive, threatening, or pain-invoking to someone else. And we have absolutely no way of knowing that until we find out the hard way, when they react in a totally unexpected way. The key for all of us is to identify the buttons we have and heal the underlying pain, so there is no longer a button to push!
Forgive them, for they know not what they do. To me, this request, attributed to Jesus on the cross, is one of the most important, and most difficult, lessons in the Bible. When we can recognize that every action, by anyone, is either an act of love or a cry for love, and respond accordingly, we have truly released our attachment to control and pain and moved into love and compassion. When we can learn to be in that space of love and forgiveness, we have taken a giant step in our own healing and evolution.
Even when someone does something intentionally to be mean, inflicting damage or pain on purpose, they still do not know what they are doing or why. They are still only acting from the depths of their own fear, pain, and insecurity, doing the best they can. If bullies were not so terrified and self-loathing, themselves, they would not feel the need to inflict pain on others. Because of the abuse they have endured in their own lives, they can only feel powerful or good about themselves when they are abusing others. They are getting through life the only way they know how, by treating others as they have been treated. Instead of healing their own pain, they inflict pain on others. Sadly, it appears that our culture has created a society of bullies.
People who feel good about themselves, who are self-aware, and who have worked on their own healing, generally have no need to intentionally cause pain or create conflict; and if they do so by mistake, they usually can recognize it quickly and rectify it or make amends. People who indulge in desperate acts feel desperate inside. People who inflict pain are filled with pain, themselves. People who act badly simply are unable, in that moment, to act any better, for whatever reason. They cannot be focused on you and your pain, because they can only focus on their own. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Recognizing how we often participate in causing ourselves pain is a humbling experience, and an important step toward forgiveness of ourselves and others, not to mention self-awareness.
We must understand that no one can hurt us emotionally unless we "let" them. Nothing anyone else does is deeply painful unless there is something inside us that resonates with it. That unhealed emotional pain inside us—or our attachment to control of external events and others—sets up a resonance and attracts more pain into our lives. It's those "buttons" again, that keep getting pushed. Used consciously, an emotional response can alert us to our deep, unhealed pain so we can heal it and eliminate the buttons. Unfortunately, we usually just cling more to each painful incident, thus increasing the resonance in an escalating cycle.
When we blame others for how we feel, regardless of what they have done; when we give others the power to hurt us and “ruin” our lives; we keep ourselves trapped in that resonance-pain-resonance-pain feedback loop. And if we feel, deep inside, that we deserve pain—or if we have been betraying ourselves by allowing abuse—then pain and betrayal will become the pattern of our lives until we break the cycle. And it is up to us, not someone else, to do the work to heal and break the cycle. If we allow ourselves to be doormats, we cannot really hold it against someone who wipes his feet on us, because we invited the action, consciously or unconsciously.
As Doctor Phil says, it’s up to us to teach people how to treat us, and we do that every day in every interaction, consciously or unconsciously. We do it by what we allow and what we don't allow. Our relationships show us what we are teaching people about how we believe we deserve to be treated—and sometimes, that's not pretty! We often stay in abusive situations, hoping the other person will change, because we are too afraid to empower ourselves to leave and create our own change. Or, deep down, we believe that we deserve it. (We don’t—EVER! And sometimes that's our biggest lesson!)
We can also sometimes unconsciously “invite” or set ourselves up for disappointment and pain by harboring unrealistic expectations of others and/or by not clearly conveying our expectations to others. That is a trap, and no one wins. Often, we feel that others should somehow “know” what we need, want, or expect (possibly because we are afraid to express our needs clearly, or don't believe we deserve to have them met). When others do not fulfill those needs or expectations, we take it personally, feel hurt, and hold it against them. But our needs are our responsibility.
We also may expect others to act in the same ways that we would in a given situation; we expect someone to act fairly because we would, or we expect someone to consider our needs and feelings because we would do that for them. We expect others to share our values and integrity and, perhaps to even act in our interests instead of their own. But again, these are unrealistic expectations, and unrealistic expectations only set us up for disappointment and pain. We can only realistically expect other people to act the way they act, in their self-interest as they perceive it. It is the only thing they can do—and often, it is incomprehensible to us.
We often have to forgive ourselves, too, and that can be even harder than forgiving someone else, because we judge ourselves so harshly. I don’t know about you, but I recognize that I feel angrier, longer, about a painful situation when I believe part of it was my fault, or that I set myself up, as in, “I should have known better,” “I never should have trusted that person,” “I should have asked more questions,” “I should not have deferred to such an extent to that person, and let her take advantage,” etc., etc. (Yeah, that whole "should" issue will be the topic of another newsletter!) I think in those cases, it’s easier to hold on to the grudge against the other person, because otherwise I must look at my anger and judgment of myself, and sit with the shame of my perceived failure. But blame and shame always keep us from healing and moving on, no matter who we are blaming.
We all have 20/20 hindsight, we all make mistakes and sometimes overlook what appears in retrospect like something that should have been obvious, forgetting that it wasn’t obvious at the time (and often, there’s no reason it would be). We are not perfect and we are not all-knowing. We cannot know how everything will turn out (yep, even those of us who are "psychic"!).
We also cannot possibly know how other people will act or react. Like everyone else, we can only do the best we can. We can only guess and hope we’re right; and if we are wrong, it is not really a failure on our part. Those thoughts really only reflect our deep desire for control and our fear of the unknown and of making mistakes. And that comes from our cultural mandate to mask our deep self-loathing, self-doubt, and fear with a veneer of perfectionism.
When we can allow ourselves to make mistakes, giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt and knowing that we did the best we could at the time—even if we can later think of ways we could have done better—we can begin to allow others to make mistakes and give them the benefit of the doubt, too, even when those mistakes hurt us. We are all, in fact, human! And making mistakes is the only way we really learn.
We break the blame-and-shame cycle by letting go of old hurts, forgiving ourselves and others, and loving and healing ourselves. When we can feel compassion for those who cause us pain, when we understand that they are doing the best they can and really don’t know any better, or may not even know they are hurting us, we set ourselves free. When we take responsibility for our own feelings and reactions, rather than placing that responsibility on others, we empower ourselves.
Even better, when we treat ourselves with love, kindness, and compassion, others begin to treat us the same way. When we love and heal ourselves, we release the resonance for pain and drama and, stop attracting that into our lives. When we detach from judgment, grudges, and pain, we can set new intentions for ease and grace, and fuel those intentions with all the energy that has been freed up. That’s when we begin to attract love, joy, peace, and abundance.
The Equinox in March and the Christian celebration of Easter (with its emphasis on forgiveness) mark the time of renewal, rebirth, and resurrection. It is the traditional, pre-Christian New Year, a time of new growth and new beginnings, a perfect opportunity for a new start. Change is definitely in the air, especially this month, with two powerful eclipses, the fifth of seven exact squares of Uranus and Pluto, and a Grand Cardinal Square (two oppositions and four planets squaring each other). We have as much help from the planets as we can get to transform our lives for the better, but we have to choose to let go of the past and allow change.
Why not leave all those old, festering wounds, and all that pain and emotional baggage in the past where it belongs? Close the door on it all and start fresh. Begin again, and treat yourself and others the way you have always wanted to be treated, with love and respect, kindness and consideration, and, yes, forgiveness when you make a mistake, do something "stupid," or unintentionally hurt yourself or others.
When we start loving ourselves more, treating ourselves better, and forgiving our faults, foibles, and mistakes, those around us can only follow suit… or fall away. And, if there is a falling out or a falling away in these transformational times, we can do our best to allow that, and send the other person off with love and forgiveness, knowing that when we allow change, rather than resist it, everything really does work out for our Highest Good.
This month, I celebrate the resurrection of the Divine Human Spirit and the rebirth of Love and Forgiveness! How about you?
All content © 2014, E.B. Dye
And the Next Step is Gratitude
|Okay, I know! In some cases, moving out of anger, resentment, self-righteousness, self-pity—or any of those strong emotions that we feel when we have been deeply hurt or betrayed—and into feeling forgiveness for that person is a big enough stretch, and often it seems like the chasm is too wide to cross.|
That is the first step, and we owe it to ourselves to take that step, no matter how hard it is. We really do not want to take those emotions and that pain with us as we move into the new energies and our new world. Actually, we can’t. This is baggage we cannot take with us, so either we choose to leave it behind in the old world, which most of us will be quite happy to leave behind, or we choose to stay behind in the old world with the emotional baggage. This really is a case of, “You can’t take it with you.” And truly, most of us don’t want to!!
So what’s the next step after that? Hard as it may sound, the next step after forgiveness is GRATITUDE!
I know! Especially if you are still locked in the throes of anger and resentment about a recent (or past) wound inflicted by someone you loved and/or trusted, it can be really hard to imagine ever feeling gratitude for that person or action. But that really is the next step in the process of healing.
In order to do that, we really need to take a leap of faith, step back from the situation and our feelings, and try to see the “bigger picture.” The bigger picture involves our soul and the experiences and/or lessons our soul took on for this life.
In the pre-planning of our lives, our souls identify experiences and/or lessons that we want to go through, for our own growth, and we enlist the assistance of our soul mates and soul group to accomplish our plans and help steer us in the directions we want to go. While there’s a lot of free-will and improvisation involved, we have the general outline of what we want to accomplish, and our soul-friends agree to help us.
This is one reason why it’s always good to try to find—in retrospect, and no matter how long it takes—something good that came from the experience. Look for that silver lining, because it is always there. This is not in any way an easy thing, but if we forgive and move on, and if we reflect on the patterns of our life and the twists and turns we’ve taken, we might just see that those horrible, painful incidents actually pushed us forward in a direction that, perhaps, we needed to go, but were reluctant to go. Perhaps they made us "rise to the occasion" in ways we never thought we could.
Retrospect is a wonderful tool, because once we’ve let go of the pain (or most of it) we can look more objectively at what happened and often see something new about the situation, from a different perspective. We also can see what happened as a result of the painful incident, and often, that's something to behold!
For example, once we get over the fact that a good friend ran off with our fiancé, we may be able to see that the friend actually did us a favor, because it's obvious a marriage with the person would not have worked out well, and we would have suffered far more pain over a longer period of time if that hadn’t happened. And perhaps, as a result of the breakup, we finally freed ourselves to find a person who was much more compatible! Sure, we'd rather it had been easier and less painful, but it saved us from worse pain and got us where we needed to go... free to find the right person!!
I have recently moved into gratitude for someone who made my life miserable for many years. This was a supervisor who was extremely oppressive, demeaning, and difficult, who undermined and devalued my work and made my work life increasingly unbearable. I wanted to leave that job, but for financial reasons and fear of “what might happen,” my mind came up with many, many reasons that I would have to just stick it out and take it for a few more years.
Finally, I received some information that helped me move past the fear, free myself from what had become an intolerable situation, and take the leap. And for that, I am now extremely grateful! My life is so much better now, and I am so much happier!
I would not have left that job and given myself the freedom I have now to do the work I love, if that supervisor had not been so insufferable! I’m not saying she consciously knew she was helping me, because I believe that on a conscious level she was merely acting from her own deep insecurity.
But on a soul level, she did me a huge favor and, now that I have let go of my attachment to the hurt, anger, and resentment, I can imagine the scenario as we were both planning out our lives. I probably said something like this: “Okay, there will come a time when I'll need to take the leap and free myself from dependence on a day job, so I can devote myself to the real work I came to do, and I'll probably be reluctant, or even afraid, to do that, and cling too long to what feels safe and secure. So, I want you to kick me out, if you have to!” And when the time came, “kick me out,” she did!
And who else, but a soul mate or a member of our soul group, would we trust to do whatever it takes to get us to move in a different direction when we are determined to stay put or go another way?
I often go back to that great Rolling Stones song that gave us a deep truth that we often don’t want to believe or experience: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” Quite often when we don't get what we want, we are literally being saved from ourselves and our erroneous desires! And sometimes we need someone, a friend on a deep soul level, to slam a door in our face, so we will go through another door that will take us where we need, and really want, to go.
I truly believe that those people who force us to leave when it’s time to go; who force us to stand up for ourselves or empower ourselves when we are reluctant to do so, are the greatest human Angels in our lives.
Some people come into our lives—by the design of our soul, and not through conscious intent—to irritate and frustrate us, to goad us into growing and moving on just when we need it. They are the sand in our oyster, and without them, we cannot become the beautiful Pearls that we are meant to be!
They provide the fire—and sometimes, the pounding—that can temper and forge us into who and what we want to become, if we can only let go of the pain and move on in new directions, in new-found strength. And it is at best a thankless job!
In some cases, it has taken me a long, long time to forgive and to recognize the bigger picture in terms of some of the painful events in my life. I can see how they pushed me in directions I consciously didn't want to go (or was afraid to go), but needed to go; how they forced me to empower myself; or uncovered strengths and depth I didn't know I had until I was tested severely. And, as I look back, I can honestly say I am grateful to all those “sandy Angels”!
Well, okay.... MOST of them!
|Upcoming Events and Things I Like|
|Sunday, May 4, 3:00 pm —If you're in the DC area, I hope you'll join us! I'll be giving a presentation of Creating Heaven on Earth, One Soul at a Time, for Noetic Science of Alexandria, VA. Check it out on their Meetup group! I hope to see a lot of familiar faces!|
Sunday, May 4, 3:00-5:30 pm—Columbia, MD. An open discussion of NDEs and what we learn about life from NDE stories. Maryland Chapter of Friends of IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies), meets the first Sunday of every month. For more information, check out their Meetup group.
Not in the DC Metro Area, but interested in NDEs or finding support if you've had one? Find out if there's a local IANDS group near you on the IANDS website.
Monday nights 8-11 pm ET (ongoing)—NDE Chat with host Rudi Rudenski on the online blogtalkradio Caribbean Radio Show. Listen to NDE stories, hear more about the Love of Home, and find out what people have learned about life from these extraordinary experiences.
Listen to recordings of shows where I've been the guest or host on my website!
|Here's what you'll find on my website, www.LionMagic.com:|
A NEW PAGE about my Reconnective Healing work and Young Living Essential Oils.
My metaphysical fantasy novel, The Search for the Crystal Key, is an adventure for all ages about believing in yourself and the power of love, based on information I received during my NDE.
Downloadable mp3s of my Journey Through the Tunnel presentation and guided meditation to go through the Tunnel of Light and feel the unconditional Love of Home.
The complete list of "What I Learned from Dying."
Videos and Recordings of presentations and radio interviews, with discussions about my NDE and the Shift.
My articles in the December 2013 and 2014 “predictions” issues of The Sedona Journal of Emergence.
Information about my Intuitive Coaching services.
|I am an Intuitive Coach, Public Speaker, Author, Reconnective Healing® practitioner, and a Practical Mystic. A Near-Death Experience (NDE) in 1985 expanded my psychic abilities and created a link with some very loving—and humorous— Guardians of humanity and the ancient wisdom, who gave me a huge amount of information about life and the evolution of mankind.|
I bring this knowledge and connection to my clients and audiences, along with over 30 years’ accumulated wisdom and understanding of metaphysics, life on earth, and Who We Really Are.
I am the author of the metaphysical fantasy novel, The Search for the Crystal Key—an adventure about believing in yourself and the power of Love; and I am currently writing a new book, Creating Heaven on Earth... One Soul at a Time; A How-To Manual from the Perspective of a Near-Death Experience.
Find out more: LionMagic.com.