Forgiveness is one of the blessings of life. It can lift the fog of suffering and pain with a sudden shift of understanding or slowly uncover a need to let go. In our book, A New Map for Relationships, in the section “Developing Compassion,” I said that, “Once I have compassion for someone who I think has hurt me, forgiveness is automatic. In fact, compassion goes beyond forgiveness. It’s a higher level of making peace with that person, at least within myself. Making my own, internal peace with him frees me from holding a grudge and being a prisoner of my painful memories.” Let’s look a little more deeply into why that is.
The nature of compassion is such that you are one with all that is around you including the person by whom you feel wronged. You are at peace and in a state of grace. You use your loving nature to move beyond the hurt. The great thing about forgiveness is that it gives you tremendous freedom and power. You are no longer at the mercy of what others think or say – or what you have imagined them to think or say.
How does this work in reality? We all know the sting of hurt, whether it is small or overwhelming, and the tendency to blame the person we perceive as causing the hurt. It’s human to feel that way. Accepting that such feelings of blame are normal is the place to start. But then, it’s important to continue the process and eventually move to forgiveness.
Give yourself a big hug and welcome the feelings of hurt, loss, and blame. If it’s a small loss you may be able to deal with it yourself. If it’s a big loss you might want to lean on a friend or therapist who understands your need for a process of healing. As you practice letting go of the blame and replacing it with compassion, it will take less and less time. When you are ready, remind yourself that compassion and forgiveness are your birthright. You don’t need to live in blame and hurt. It’s time to let that go and be free.
There are many ways to go from here, depending on the process you’ve discovered for finding your way to compassion. I look inward to my heart and release all the hurt that I find there, expanding my love to this whole magnificent world. When I began to practice this, I had to try many times before I found forgiveness. But, as the years went by, I have had to do it fewer and fewer times to achieve success. Today, after much practice, success is almost automatic.
I’ve learned that what people say or do has little to do with me, allowing blame to disappear. Once I learned that, hurt and blame disappear, so forgiveness is unnecessary. I fill my heart with love instead of pain. It’s a lovely place to be.
You can read more about forgiveness in our book in the sections: From Blame to Responsiblilty, Sometimes it Only Takes One, The Healing Nature of Compassion, and many other places. Forgiveness is essential to healing a relationship. You can’t go forward if you are looking behind you.