What is the power of forgiveness? What does it really mean to forgive yourself or someone else?
A few years ago, we heard a woman in South Carolina express the power of forgiveness to the young man who had viciously gunned down her beloved son and 9 other church members. Who benefited most from her generous act of forgiveness, her or the gunman? I would say that she benefited the most because she decided to not allow her anger and grief to take control of her life or literally eat her up. The gunman will forever have to live with the pain he inflicted on others unless he is able and willing to forgive himself for his actions.
There are 3 types of forgiveness; asking for forgiveness from others, forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others.
Asking for forgiveness from others: Given that we are human, there are times that we do not handling things as graciously as we might have. We make mistakes and may react to another’s behavior from a place of our wounded selves. It is important to reflect on those times; to ask for forgiveness from others to not only heal ourselves but also to support their healing.
Forgiveness of self: Often times, we overlook the need to forgive ourselves for not handling something as graciously as we might have. We are human, after all. We make mistakes and may react to another’s behavior from a place of our wounded selves. It is important to reflect on those times; to heal the wounded place inside ourselves and to forgive ourselves so that we have the capacity to do it differently next time.
Forgiveness of others is not at all about condoning another person’s behavior; it is about freeing ourselves of the anger, pain, self-righteous indignation, judgment, and any other toxic emotions that eventually will have a negative impact on us, our health and other people in our sphere of energetic influence.
Who do you want to ask forgiveness from or who are you willing to start forgiving today?
Feel the Power of Forgiveness exercise: Close your eyes, picture the person who you want to ask forgiveness from or who you have felt hurt by or are angry with. This person could be you. Let all your thoughts and emotions come up.
Take note: Notice what sensations you feel in your body — acceleration of heart-beat, shallow breathing, tension, etc. and what emotions you are experiencing — sadness, regret, anger etc.
Now write about that experience:
If you are asking for forgiveness, write a heart felt apology taking ownership of your actions noticing any patterns of behavior that come up. If you feel called, you can share your insights with the person you’ve chosen or not. Regardless, the healing process has already begun.
If you are forgiving another including yourself, write down all the details of the event as well as all the emotions and feelings behind the event with the intention that you will release all the emotions from your subconscious mind. Write until you have nothing else to say and you feel complete. You may not be able to forgive someone or yourself completely at this moment, and that is ok. What you are doing is starting the forgiveness process. You can do this exercise over and over until you feel a sense of acceptance with the other person or yourself. And even if you don’t feel complete after this first exercise, you’ve taken a necessary first step to forgiveness.
You don’t have to share it with anyone so allow all your emotions and feelings to come out.
You may want to burn the pages when you are finished. If so, go to my creating ceremonies musing to create a ceremony around it, which will make it even more powerful.