Monday, March 18, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness


 “Forgiveness is giving up the wish that things could be different.”
- Valerie Harper


If you haven’t figured it out by now, each of our monthly Body Presencing Keys build upon one another.  We began the year with January’s theme of Choice. February introduced the power of Acceptance.

Drum roll … March’s Body Presencing Key is Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a word that gets tossed around; sometimes almost carelessly.  Yet it is central to living a life of wholeness, health, and vitality.

But what exactly is forgiveness; and sometimes more importantly what is it not? I believe there are appropriate times and reasons to forgive and there are times when it isn’t appropriate.  When it is applied in a way that makes us more whole and alive then we are on the right track.  When is it used in a way that creates confusion, anger, or depression we are definitely headed somewhere we don’t’ want to go.

I work with a lot of clients who say things like,” I forgave my mother or my father. I am past all that now.”  I have also heard many people say that they have forgiven their partner.  As I listen to those words and I feel their meaning and intent, I am struck by how forgiveness doesn’t actually feel right in those contexts.

Imagine you are a mother and your child tells you they have forgiven you.  How does that make you feel?  Imagine your partner tells you they have forgiven you for something you have done.  How does that feel?

To me, those words in those contexts feel wrong.  If a child told me that they forgave me I would tell them that they are too big for their britches.  It appears as though they know more and have experienced more than me as their parent.  To a parent it feels a little like a blow to the gut.

Instead, imagine your child tells you that they now understand and that they see what you went through and they accept you for who you are.  How does that feel?  Sometimes acceptance is more helpful and powerful than forgiveness.

Forgiving a spouse for cheating also doesn’t feel right to me. It makes the cheating spouse feel like a louse and makes the forgiver the “right or good” one in the situation. The separation becomes too great.

There are many times where true forgiveness is right and changes the energy enough that things between two people become freeing instead of limiting or restricting.  But forgiveness is not being better or bigger than someone.  It isn’t about being right.  It isn’t about judging someone.  Forgiveness is more about, as Valerie Harper said so elegantly, giving up a wish that things were or could be different.

Forgiveness feels right and adds to a sense of wholeness and health when a friend forgives a friend for missing an appointment they said they would be there for.  Or it feels good when a colleague apologizes for having bad boundaries and telling others something private about the other.  Then the transgressor is able to accept their transgression, promise not to do it again, and move forward.  Forgiveness is about the ability to move forward in a new way.  It is a way of feeling and being that lets go of a pattern, a feeling, a memory, a belief, or even a person that has been limiting in holding onto it.  

In order to forgive, it is important to be able to see the event from different eyes. It is also important for us to take responsibility for our actions.  And, it is important for us to move forward instead of constantly looking back and taking the scab off of the healed wound.

The results of this kind of forgiveness are freeing and life changing because it creates a life in which we take responsibility for our part, where we see others in their best light, where we accept the situation or person who hurt us for who they are, and where we are able to move forward with new vision.

These things can happen when we are able to forgive, in the sense of the word which gives us strength.  In future blogs this month, I will talk about forgiveness and expand upon it through true stories and case studies. You will gain a greater sense of what is possible and how forgiveness increases your vitality, health and sense of wholeness.


Recommended Resources

This month I recommend you check out the Forgiveness class I am teaching in the Continuing Education Department at Meramec Community College. It is a four week class that is designed to be informative and inspiring! Go to my website, www.bodypresencing.com. Click on Events, and click on classes. Scroll down the Forgiveness Class and all the information is right there.