Pumla Gobodo-Madikizelan says, “Forgiveness does not overlook the deed. It rises above it. This is what it means to be human, [because] it says I cannot and will not return to the evil you inflicted on me. And that is the victim’s triumph.”
I watched with amazed horror when I recently witnessed someone mal-treat another person for harm done nearly thirty years ago. She played the “victim” pompously by refusing to acknowledge the other person with pride. It appeared to me, a voyeur at best, who was privy to the incident three decades ago that she is destined for emotional destruction. She wanted to return the evil inflicted upon her and did it publicly and sadly she thought she was right. It did not matter what I said about giving up the past, she’d release her supposedly righteous venom and spit it out as a viper snake whenever that person came around. It was sad to see others supporting her. Knowing the futility to trying to intervene, I made my mind up to shield myself and stay away.
Forgiveness – the elixir for happiness – means never having to say I am a perpetual victim. It means in a healthy way that you recognize that what was done was wrong but you refuse to be manipulated or emotionally tethered to someone’s past wrongs. It means you have a happy life to live. It means you are healed and have moved on to brighter experiences.
The vise grip of “payback” issues a scar that only love and grace can soften. Holding malice in one’s heart hurts the holder – YOU! You suffer the consequences of un-forgiveness. Health wise, researchers have connected disease, including hypertension and cancer to a malice-minded state of mind. Emotional “payback” can lead to depression, despair, suicide, eating disorders, diabetes or auto-immune body conditions which can indicate an inability to forgive.
Serendipity guided me to The Wisdom of No Escape: The Path of Loving Kindness by Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun. In the first chapter (titled Loving Kindness) of the book, she introduces me to the state of maitri-loving kindness. Chodron makes the point to weave loving self-care and meditation. She says,
“To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life that that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is….The ground is ourselves; we’re here to study ourselves and to get to know ourselves now, not later.”
How do I get there? How can I consciously create forgiveness and loving kindness? How can I forgive?
- Start with yourself. Seriously, start as Chodron says, within you. Say out loud to yourself – I forgive me. Let that one statement, “I forgive me” settle into your soul and witness the inner peace and calm that comes from allowing this first step to begin within you. Then, forgive others, forgive past hurts.
Be willing to let go and be open to the inflow of peaceful happiness. Letting go does not mean that you deny the incident. It may not mean that you forget the incident, often you cannot forget. That’s all right; but be open to not allowing yourself to be wrapped in the foil of destructive emotion.
Release pain, gain what is sane. Keep your mental self whole and happy. This may mean that you also talk with the person and share what you are feeling about the event. You may write a letter of explanation to get the situation off your heart. Do what keeps you whole, release the pain. Consciously create your peace and happiness right now in spite of what happened.
- Acknowledge the anger, pain, disappointment, fear, rejection, hurt, dishonor (and anything else) you felt. It’s okay and even appropriate to feel these emotions. You are not to deny any feeling. There is no way for you to release a faceted entangled emotion unless you accept that it is there. Feel the emotion and consciously make the choice to release the stories of the past and create unlimited happiness.
Dee Wallace, actress and healer, has written Conscious Creation. In it she advocates forgiveness for unlimited happiness. Love yourself enough to allow others to be whoever they are without judgment so that your life, founded on the energy of forgiveness, wholeness, happiness and love, will create a choice consciousness of present joy.
- Make the change. It may be hard at first to forgive the “offender” so practice with others. Show loving kindness to the waiter, with a complainer, when you are stuck in traffic. Smile, whistle and go on about your happy, healthy day. Remind yourself daily that you are a joyful and happy being (Baha’i prayer). Make a conscious change!
Start paying attention to the good you do and to the “healing” vibrations you project. We’ve all been wronged, so set up a new behavior response that disallows negative-charged emotions. Forgive, pluck the ego of sanctimoniousness from your inner character and outer display of emotions.
- Forgive and move on! I don’t mean surface ok-I forgive. NO, make your forgiveness deep, eternal. Live NOW, be present now where there is no history or past. Then you won’t be haunted by the past pain or offenders nor reminded of damaging emotions when inevitable future incidents may trigger a hurtful response.
Give unto yourself, this day, forgiveness.