Forgiveness is easily mistaken as a weakness. A misconception on our part where we enable our ego to shine in all of its pride, anger, blame and resentment.
We’ve all been victim to hurt and abuse in varying degrees. Whether it is actively directed towards us, witnessed or acted upon by one’s self. Acknowledging and standing in the hurt is one thing, however holding on to that pain is what hinders personal healing and ultimately blocks you from feeling potential peace and happiness within yourself. When you play into the victim mentality long-term and allow negative energy to fester within you, you are also allowing yourself to perceive your external world in ways that invite fear, creating disharmony in current relationships and blocking potential relationships and experiences. Overall, sitting in this mindset is where you are inadvertently placing negative impact on your emotional wellbeing. Contrary to common belief, disengaging from compassion and forgiveness is where you are giving your power away to the people or situations that have hurt you, possibly giving them the reaction they intended upon you.
I am obviously aware our negative experiences can vary significantly. On one end of the spectrum, a stranger could say something unexpectedly in passing that triggers you or then there are the unfortunate events that are incomprehensible and sinister, deemed unforgivable to most people. I am by no means suggesting that a rape victim make excuses for her perpetrator and deviate from taking judicial action. What I am suggesting is that you do what you can do emotionally to propel yourself towards self-healing, giving yourself the opportunity to experience life the way you should and step back into your power rather than go down a path of self-loathing, depression, blame and isolation. No matter what we experience, we and only we have the ultimate control over what we allow ourselves to feel on the inside. Given that, the level of healing for each individual is subjective given the personal circumstances and progress relies on a great deal of inner-strength and self-determination. Whether it’s self-healing or professional help, the proactive step here is the direction towards healing which is the best thing you can do for yourself.
From personal experience, below is some basic advice that may help you along your self-healing journey.
When you forgive, you heal. And when you let go, you grow.
1) Face your emotions
When these situations occur, more times than not we suppress the emotion and mask it with fakery and hope it will just fade away. We can feed into illicit substances, excess alcohol, destructive behaviour, virtually anything that can either distract you or numb your pain. Then there are times where you know what it is your feeling and live in it, breathe it and direct it outwardly to the world around you displayed in acts of anger, revenge, arguments and physical violence because you believe others deserve it. Then there are also the times when your experiences lead you to place negative perceptions about yourself creating a lack of self-worth and taking a front seat to a path of self-destruction. It is in your best interest to take the time and space to feel what you’re feeling. Journal it, cry, talk about it to a friend or seek professional help and do it again and again if you have too. These forms of release will give you an almost instant relief and a sense of lightness and peace.
2) Viewing the other person/persons view from a place of compassion and empathy
As difficult as this is to hear or do, viewing the other person’s view can have a tremendous effect in shifting your mindset to a place that can dissipate anger and encourage more self-peace. By no means do you have to go through this motion with the knowledge of the other party, this is to create change in your thought process for your own state of being. As an example, maybe you’re someone who has been heavily bullied, whether it’s because of your physical appearance or unique personality traits is irrelevant. We have a tendency to believe these things said to us about us, let me say that again…we tend to believe words verbalised by someone else who lives, breathes and thinks in a totally different physical body to us. It is ridiculous we take on these beliefs about ourselves but we do because our own inner-bully lets us. By giving in to these beliefs we instantly give our power away and start eating away at our own self-worth. When we can step away from that mentality and observe the situation from the perpetrators view it is an opportunity where you can see that it’s more than likely that their behaviour actually has nothing to do with you but rather issues affecting the abuser. We unconsciously project words and actions that are not necessarily true due to unresolved issues or insecurities within us. The next time you pass judgement on someone else, treat someone a certain way or criticize, I ask you to take a moment to reflect on your behaviour and find where it is that it came from because if you look deep enough you will find an issue or insecurity stirring within you.
3) Cause and Effect of Constructed Beliefs
How many times has someone has negatively labelled you, criticized you or mistreated you where you have taken on that belief or believed you deserved it? No one can ever know you better than you know yourself and as mentioned earlier, we have complete control of how we view and feel about ourselves whether you want to believe it or not. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to remain in your power, go within and find that place that you know to be true about yourself and find peace in knowing that you are better than the behaviour that was directed at you.
I am someone who internalised bullying in high school that deeply affected my self-esteem, I had no real sense of identity and tried to fit in wherever I could. Essentially it led me to believe things about myself that were reflected in my external world and deepening my lack of self-worth with each and every situation I was drawn to. I progressively developed such little love for myself that this was only mirrored back to me. Relationships are a major factor in our lives and this is where my lack of love was demonstrated the most. From a young age, I already had ‘men cheat’ ingrained in my belief system by taking on my mother’s pain from a failed marriage. As a result of my mindset towards men as a collective and my attitude towards myself, I experienced disrespect in all forms, commonly cheating in all of my relationships. If you valued yourself highly you would remove yourself from this situation, however when you lack self-love you accept this behaviour as a way of self-sabotage. These situations can really damage a person, to the point they punish potential or future partners for the mistakes of those before them, guard their heart for good to prevent ever being hurt again or worse find themselves depressed. I now know the way you see and treat yourself sets the standard for the way others treat you and as I have grown to love myself. In terms of how I moved past the hurt in these situations was by firstly forgiving myself for not seeing my self-worth and leaving instead allowing the disrespectful behaviour to keep occuring by the same person or moving on to someone alike. Secondly, you leave the situation and let go of what has occurred from a place of compassion. I understand it is dificult to not only leave but forgive someone who betrayed you, but it’s not really about giving forgiveness to the other person it is forgiving yourself which will give you the freedom from
leaving with the understanding that someone hurting you is never your fault, it is driven by personality and situational issues within oneself gives you the freedom to
but thankful that these experiences provided me with self-awareness, lessons and personal strength and growth. Therefore, it is important to look at these experiences that are not aligning with your highest good and having a good think about whether the beliefs that led you these people or situations are of your true beliefs or beliefs constructed from others.
4) ‘letting go’
This is the ultimate step to finding self-peace and can be a difficult one at that. Experiencing negative situations in life is inevitable, we can’t control the actions of others or situations that occur around us or involve us. Once we can face the emotions, acknowledge and accept these emotions for what they are we are honouring ourselves and how we want to feel at that given time. It is thereafter that we have the choice to transmute that negativity to something more positive, otherwise the negativity thought pattern feeds on to more negativity and is that we manifest within us is projected back to us. From a positive place is where we can allow ourselves to feel compassion and empathy towards others, serving a larger sense of peace for ourselves and others, ultimately shifting our mindset from that of a victim mentality to a more balanced view. When we are in a place of forgiveness and compassion we are in a beautiful place of surrender where we can let go of the emotions that no longer serves us and allow space for happier and positive emotions to enter.
Forgiveness is the virtue of the brave – Indira Gandhi