Forgiveness: the Gateway to Freedom
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent
of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
It’s well known that human beings get very angry and upset when they are deeply hurt. Anger, resentment, bitterness, regret – these are emotional reactions that are very common. You may be feeling angry at others – your partner for leaving you, family, friends, institutions like hospitals or insurance companies, even at God. You also may be dealing with anger at yourself for things you did, or things you didn’t do. At the root of the anger is the belief that things happened that “should” not have happened.
Anxiety, fear, feelings of helplessness, guilt, these are also common feelings associated with grief and loss. The basis of these feelings is judgments of yourself, that you’ve done something wrong, or that you are inherently flawed at a deep level.
What these negative experiences have in common is judgment – judgment of others and judgment of self. When we judge, we are making ourselves and others wrong. It’s a powerful thought form that leads to condemnation, separation, and self-victimization.
We all do it. We’re conditioned to judge. We even think it’s the right thing to do – how else will we keep ourselves and everyone else in line? However, what people are waking up to is the knowing that judgment is not only what binds us to suffering and pain, also, it just doesn’t work. When you judge, you get more of what you don’t want in life and you create a powerful block to what you DO want. Quite simply, holding on to judgment is condemning ourselves to hell on earth. It locks us into playing the role of victim and/or perpetrator (aggressor).
Forgiveness is the gateway to higher consciousness and to freedom. I didn’t just make that up. Most experts on spiritual matters will tell you versions of the same truth.
What makes it so difficult to embrace this concept and put it into action? Many people associate forgiveness with giving up, condoning, settling. No wonder we are reluctant to embrace it. However, that’s not what forgiveness truly is. Forgiveness is the application of loving inside to the parts inside that are hurting. Forgiveness is an internal healing process, a choice we can enter into when we realize we no longer want to put our energy into the negative traps of holding on to grudges and making ourselves and others wrong.
What else does forgiveness do for you? It allows you to let go of your attachment to the past and shift that energy into the present where you really need it. Not only that, forgiveness helps you release the negative energy of the victim and/or perpetrator. To say it plainly, it provides relief and you feel better about yourself and the world.
How do you do forgiveness? One way I have learned is to work with self-forgiveness. In other words, what you are doing is forgiving yourself for the judgment you have placed on yourself of another. You are not forgiving the action. You are forgiving the judgment. This is an important distinction here.
It takes a lot of practice and a very clear intention to learn this. As you become aware that you are judging, you immediately forgive yourself for the judgment. The more you do this, the easier the process becomes. And you start to see results. Results like a greater sense of inner peace. You begin to notice that things that used to upset you in the past don’t anymore. You find yourself taking things a lot less personally. Your energy shifts to a more positive and higher vibration.
Let’s walk through the process with an example. Let’s say that John has a tendency to be hard on himself when he makes a mistake. John receives a text from the bank that he is overdrawn again and they are charging a fee. “What?!” he says, “that can’t be right!” Then he checks his statement and sees that he forgot to account for a payment. He made a mistake, one that is going to cost him. He berates himself for the mistake. “How could I be so stupid!”
There it is. John has judged himself as stupid. How do you think that makes him feel? Does feeling bad about himself and beating himself up for the mistake do anything to actually fix the situation? No.
So he decides to forgive himself for that judgment. He says to himself, “I forgive myself for judging myself as stupid.” Then, he tells himself a more empowering, truthful statement about the situation: “It looks like I made a mistake that I will need to correct. I know that I’m doing the best I can to be financially responsible and I will be more careful in the future to track all my payments.” He feels relieved and he also has an action plan. He isn’t avoiding the situation, just dealing with it without making himself bad and wrong. He moves on to enjoy the rest of the day.
On the other hand, if he chooses to stay in the judgment, he has locked himself into a belief that he is stupid. Some of John’s energy is now tied up in the negative feeling about himself, and then he finds himself making another mistake because he wasn’t paying full attention. This reinforces the judgment of himself as stupid and on it goes in a downward spiral.
Does this sound familiar? Does this sound like something you might do to yourself? Would you do this to someone you cared about? It’s really not necessary for us to learn through a model of punishing ourselves for mistakes. Let’s be clear here. You always have a choice about how you are going to treat yourself, no matter what. Will you continue to judge or learn to forgive?
Many people are choosing freedom from self-victimization by walking through the gateway of forgiveness. How about you?
Love and Blessings on Your Journey,