In an earlier blogging episode, I stated that you can’t forgive someone else. Forgiving is a process of letting go of emotional pain. You can’t release my pain. So, how can you forgive me? I don’t see how you can. But, you can forgive, and there are various ways to do that.
In that post, I also stated that the key to forgiveness is to refrain from blaming someone or something else for your pain, and to take responsibility for your thoughts and feelings. So, let’s get into that a bit more here.
Picture this: Someone or something insults, attacks, or otherwise hurts you. (Ouch!) You feel angry, humiliated, or some other painful emotion. Your first response is to point your finger at this person for causing your pain; Maybe your middle finger. (Whaa?)
Stop… This is where you have an opportunity to take responsibility, and not blame the outside force for your misfortune — even though you really, really want to. Don’t blame yourself, either. Taking responsibility is not about blaming yourself. Rather, it moves you out of victimhood to empowerment.
Stop Playing the Blame Game
Refraining from blaming can be quite the challenge at first, but do your best to resist the temptation to blame anyone at all.
Instead, try this:
- Assume that the pain was inside you already (because it was).
- Assume that the person/thing you feel like blaming is actually a trigger to activate that pain (because he/she/it is).
- Realize that this person/thing has afforded you the opportunity to heal it and let it go. (Thank you very much.)
This is what it means to take responsibility for your own feelings, even though it may still feel like someone else caused them. As long as you feel that someone else is responsible for your pain, you are at their mercy and have no power to change the situation and feel better.
Set Yourself Free
Now you can begin the work of releasing the trapped emotions and freeing yourself from this pain. My two favorite ways to do this are:
Both of these processes move you from blame to questioning the thoughts behind your feelings and seeing expanded possibilities; to see reality as it exists and to move you behind the pain of erroneous thinking. They help you to recognize the pain you cause yourself when you desire to change the behavior of others.
Turning to the Other
Once you’ve processed your own feelings and thoughts, you can turn to the task of responding to the other person without rancor. When you were in an angry, fearful place, you were in the grips of the fight-or-flight response and only saw these two possibilities. Now that you’ve freed yourself from that, the space for all sorts of possibilities opens up. Also, now that your energy is shifted, the other party will respond to that – most likely in a favorable way. While you can’t change the other person, and you still may not have your most desirable outcome, you will have the best outcome.
More Opportunities for Forgiveness
Once you learn to respond to adverse circumstances in this way, you will begin to welcome them as the healing opportunities they provide. You probably still won’t enjoy them, but you will feel better once you’ve arrived at the other side of them.
If you don’t find a way to work through these incidents and find a forgiveness process that works for you, don’t worry, because you will get plenty more opportunities to do so.