The thought for today is FORGIVENESS.
This topic in the Nonviolence Daily Reflections is a huge one so this article will be a series of posts.
Forgiveness is complex. It’s challenging, and it’s not an easy or quick process. Yet learning it is one of the keys to living in peace and bringing peace to the world.
“The result of forgiveness is the stopping of the recycling of anger within ourselves and in the world. Peace will come to the world when each of us takes the responsibility of forgiving everyone, including ourselves, completely.” –Gerald Jampolsky
All of us have had experiences that require forgiveness — to give, to ask, or to receive. I don’t think anyone has been spared. Even children. At one point, they too felt offended — when a playmate or classmate bullied them, or took their toy without asking permission, or they were not invited to a sleep-over. Regardless of our age or circumstances in our lives and in the offense, an offense is an offense.
The offense that requires forgiveness only differs in the degree. What also allows true forgiveness to take place is if we’ve developed and cultivated the appropriate values and skills to forgive.
All of us also have succeeded in some situations, and we also all encountered difficulties in others.
Sometimes we want to forgive but we can’t, or we don’t know how. Some situations just seem to hurt us to the core. Some are so much more painful than others. And this could be because of the nature of the relationship or the length of time we’ve known the person. It could also be because of the kind of offense that was done. It may also be the circumstances surrounding it, or the timing, etc.
What blocks our ability to forgive?
What prevent us from truly forgiving are the teachings that have been passed on to us, and the thoughts and beliefs that we hold about forgiveness. Perhaps if we re-examine them, we can release ourselves from being imprisoned by guilt because of our inability to fully forgive and move on.
To forgive is to condone offensive behavior
We think that we are condoning the offensive behavior when we forgive the person, or that we are letting them off the hook. When we forgive, we are doing it for ourselves and not for the other person. It is not them that we are letting off the hook; it is ourselves that we are freeing from the bondage of emotional imprisonment — the gripping pain, immobilizing fear and crippling anger.
I have to forgive
Forgiveness cannot be demanded or required. It is freely and voluntarily given and done by the person offended — at their own time, their own pace, their own way. The manner and the timing may not be what’s expected by or acceptable to the offender, or even by the people around them (like family, friends, society, etc.). But that’s the right of the offended party. And when the offended person concerns themselves with what other people think or expect of them, they deprive themselves of the chance to completely forgive and effectively heal.
To forgive is to forget
What also blocks our path to true forgiveness is when we think that we have forgiven the person only when we have completely forgotten what happened. Such that when we still remember the offending incident, we still have not truly forgiven.
We can still have memories of the incident. When the pain attached to the incident is gone and there isn’t any more emotional charge to it, and all that remains are the lessons that we learned and the wisdom that we gained, and what we feel is gratitude for what happened because of how we’ve grown from it, and gratitude for the offender for having been our teacher, then that is when true forgiveness has taken place.
Forgiveness does not erase the event from our memory. Forgiveness shifts our perception of the event and the offender — from feeling victimized to being empowered and becoming wiser.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different.” — The Oprah Winfrey Show
“Today: I am willing to let go of the past, and forgive those who have hurt me, and towards whom I feel anger. I will reflect on what’s blocking me to forgive and journal my realizations.”
To be continued
64 Ways in 64 Days Nonviolence Daily Reflections Day 29 – Feb. 27, 2012
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