The Whole Person Blog: Week Three, Day Four, Part 2/2 - Forgiveness as Liberation from Self-Entrapment
Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
The topic of forgiveness is such a sensitive subject, and rather than tip-toe around it, I'd rather state my awareness of it, and as best I can proceed with compassion and generosity. Please read all the way through this post with an open mind before deciding to accept or reject it. The approach to forgiveness shared in this chapter empowered me to forgive everyone who has ever hurt me.
Everyone has been hurt by someone and depending on the severity of the wound inflicted, you may be holding onto a grudge, unwilling or unable to extend forgiveness. The primary reason we hesitate to forgive is we believe it lets the other person off the hook, symbolically telling them that what they did was OK, and possibly puts them in a position to do it to someone else. This is precisely how I thought about forgiveness too. However, we don't forgive to release the other person; it's an avenue to free ourselves from the self-entrapment that comes from holding a grudge. The part of us that struggles with this is our ego because it's defined by separateness, and the moral superiority that comes from holding onto resentment. Our ego seeks retributive justice, preferring tit-for-tat, and teaching them a lesson, while our soul craves restorative justice, showing undeserved kindness, and a willingness to allow life to be its own lesson.
Since this chapter has so many nuggets, rather than pulling an excerpt, I'll share bulleted insights:
Forgiveness has little to do with the perpetrator who has committed a harmful act against us and much to do with the experience of disempowerment that follows.
If you rely on reasoning to forgive a painful misdeed, you will access only how you interpreted the misdeed, not what actually happened to you.
Forgiving involves empowerment because the misdeed perpetrated against you renders you powerless. If you don't regain the empowerment you relinquished to your perpetrator; you cannot reach a state of forgiveness. Another way of looking at this is that you gave away what you thought someone took from you.
Relinquishing victimhood requires regaining your worthiness and finding alternatives to these poor substitutes for forgiveness.
Empathy empowers you be affirming your worthiness, while sympathy only offers you pity for your helplessness.
When we are wounded early in life by people we love, they teach us to entangle love with our wound.
There's too much goodness in this chapter to possibly fit it all in. The two things that stuck out most for me were: 1. What we thought someone took from us (dignity, respect, worth), we actually gave to them, and 2. We are the ones who assign the value of our wounds. No one can take something from us that they did not give to us. For instance, your worth is a divine gift you received at conception, and you continue receiving with every breath you take. It did not come from another human being! Once you understand this, you're empowered to take back what you have previously surrendered. Additionally, once we recognize that it was us who determined we're worthless or inferior as a result of someone projecting their pain upon us, we're equally empowered to rewrite a new ending to that story. Those experiences were a reflection of their pain, and not in any way a representation of your infinite worth.
"You were never robbed of your power or worthiness; you inadvertently disowned them." Dr. Mario Martinez