How To Forgive and Find Peace (Plus a Visualization Technique)
Forgiveness is elusive. We believe we’ve forgiven someone (with or without their involvement in the process) and suddenly unresolved feelings arise. Boom! Back to square one! We question whether we’ve really forgiven at all if these feelings still linger.
If only forgiveness was a box we checked and be done with it.
Not so. Forgiveness is complex.
The purpose of forgiveness is for us to feel better, move on, and finally find peace instead of resentment and other ugly feelings that can spontaneously ruin your day.
It wasn’t until this week that I realized forgiveness is truly up to me and that wasn’t just a cookie-cutter cliché. But if it was up to me, how the hell do I do it?
Even if you get a heartfelt apology from the other person, that doesn’t mean it’s resolved deep down inside. You’d also have to decide whether you accept the apology, discern whether or not that person is being sincere, and still conclude whether you can forgive…and then what? What is the relationship? If you don’t end it, what is life like after that?
But let’s face it…most likely we won’t get an apology.
“We often sit and wait for apologies. We tell ourselves we’ll move on when we get answers or as soon as things fall into place. But we don’t always hear “I’m sorry,” and those unresolved situations don’t always tie themselves up into neat little packages.” Kris Carr, Bestselling Author and Wellness Advocate
Why did I suddenly have this epiphany about my own role in forgiveness? I sit here writing this not knowing whether my dad will survive the year due to a complicated illness.
I’ve tried forgiving him over the years. I’ve even cut ties, but was never sure if it was over and the box was checked. He’s suffered with severe mental illness, and like most families of the mentally ill, we suffered along with him many times- it’s the nature of the beast. It’s also not an excuse though.
But as he struggles for his life now, I know I will not get that apology and I also realize I never really needed it. I had given my power to him in so many ways and it was a pattern in my life that has slowly resolved over the years as I work at it. My dad and I had developed a power struggle between us that meant so little in the scheme of things.
Ultimately I am responsible for my own peace (and other feelings) in this process. That’s where my power is.
I’ve been writing on this topic for ten years so I’ve read a few…hundred…or more emails. I know forgiveness is where people struggle. I know it can be an ongoing battle. Heck, the more I spoke up for myself with my dad, the worse our “relationship” became. But speaking up for yourself is part of regaining your personal power.
I’ve always thought it’s interesting that when forgiveness is in our hands, we actually feel as if we’ve lost our power, right?! We feel as if we’re weak and we are the ones waving the white flag of surrender. ‘Fine. I forgive you. (Insert grimace and grudge).’
That’s because our power is tied up with that other person and whether or not we can control them.
‘If I can’t control that other person then I am not powerful. If I am not powerful, I don’t have it in me to forgive.’ (inner dialogue)
Pish-posh! That’s rubbish (channeling my best British accent 🙂
Forgiveness is up to you BECAUSE it’s your key to regaining your personal power. It is one way that you can take the reigns!
The goal is to make peace with yourself (not control the other person).
The hope to remove all unwanted feelings once we forgive is misleading. That requires the kind of sheer willpower that can reach a point where it looks like a goat butting it’s head against a wall, insisting it move.
The desire to rid ourselves of unwanted feelings boils down to personal power and peace. Essentially we’re looking to experience some peace and a heaping dose of personal power. We can be open to it and accept it from a higher power and/or create it right from where we are at now.
> Personal power resources <
- How To Get Back Your Personal Power by Deepak Chopra (great article on this topic)
- Are You Playing The Victim? Here’s How To Regain Your Power (MindBodyGreen article)
Now that you understand how losing your personal power affects your inability to forgive and how they are connected, let’s get back to the nitty-gritty of forgiveness: You can start here…
When you think about forgiving, what’s the first emotion that comes up?
Reduce ugly feelings like resentment, hurt, anger, for example, with this practice. When they arise, close your eyes.
Identify the ugly feeling (pick one).
Imagine a meter labeled on one side “RESENTMENT” for example, and the other side “PEACE”.
(Ha! I love this meter so much I had to share it. “laaaamme” is obviously “resentment” and “shweeeet” is for sure “peace”.)
Get a nice clear picture of this meter, or one of your very own, in your mind.
Mentally move that meter toward peace. Up one mark. Another mark. And another. Take a couple of deep breaths. See how far you get toward peace each time you do this. Maybe it’s only one or two marks. That’s cool!
Another important aspect of this is noting what PEACE feels like for you. If you don’t know that then it’s hard to measure it.
So your “homework” is to discover when you feel at peace during your day, your week, whenever it happens to occur, and notice how it feels- how your body feels, your muscles, what you’re thinking about, how your hands are placed, your facial expressions, your posture, your body temperature, how you breathe, etc.
Moving toward that feeling of peace on your meter is your aim! Instead of feeling like you must remove ugly feelings, you are gradually replacing them with peace. It’s much easier to replace than remove.
For additional help with this try these:
(Don’t miss last week’s post: Gain Powerful Access To Your Subconscious With This Simple Walking Meditation)
PEACE and Be Well,