Forgiveness. Can you imagine? When I decided to write about the topic of forgiveness this week, the song 'It's Quiet Uptown' from Hamilton started playing in my head. There is a moment in the song with these powerful lyrics:
Forgiveness, can you imagine?
Forgiveness, can you imagine?
I think about forgiveness quite a bit, and it often comes up in my client coaching sessions too. We get hurt, rejected, and forgiving feels like we allow 'that' person to get away with their actions. Or, something happens that truly seems insurmountable to forgive... the act was so heinous that it's impossible.
My personal belief is forgiveness allows me to release their hold over me, not about releasing them from their responsibility.
This brings me to a saying you probably see frequently, and that is something like this...
forgiveness means nothing without changed behavior.
I personally believe the words "I am sorry" are powerful. And I believe changed behavior is powerful, but they are stand-alone experiences. We all know people who say "I'm sorry" like it's a good morning salutation. That isn't whom I'm talking about. I'm talking about people who are genuine 'sorry,' and yet, they aren't to the place of changing their behavior. They may want to, and they may or may not be capable of it, but at this moment, their actions remain the same.
So, before you write off their apology as insincere, I ask you to take a deeper look at it. Please know, that doesn't remotely mean you move forward as things are back to normal. I'm just asking you to see the apology and changed behavior as two different actions.
LOVE ALL and I choose who to share my time, energy, heart and talent with.
While I have a daily practice that keeps me focused on LOVE, kindness, compassion, and peace, I still have to work on the forgiveness piece. What helps me is knowing that the energy of the action that requires forgiveness doesn't feel good in my body, so it's more about releasing their hold over me than forgiving them. Sometimes it's about forgiving and healing the relationship. Sometimes it's about forgiving and moving forward with lessened time with them in my life or removing them from my life completely. But, the more I focus on forgiving to take back my own power, the more I can make that decision from a space of LOVE rather than anger. Depending on what happened, sometimes it's quick healing. Other times it takes deeper work to move through it, and that is okay. The important part of forgiving is choosing ME over them. I want to feel LOVING, kind, compassionate, and peaceful. If I hold onto the hurt, the anger, etc., then the harder it is for me to find peace.
Moving forward, if you are grappling with forgiving yourself or others, I invite you to:
Respond versus react. In the heated moment, forgiveness isn't even a thought. It's simply getting through it and giving yourself space to breathe, take a break, and breathe some more. When you've allowed yourself some distance from the situation, it will allow you to respond to the experience instead of reacting to it.
Pay attention to the words "I am sorry" and the energy behind the words. They may genuinely mean it and still not be ready for changed behavior. Don't burden yourself further by thinking they don't mean it, and yet still choosing how much of your time, energy, heart, and talents you are willing to share with them.
Knowing one size doesn't fit all. There isn't a one-size-fits-all in the world of forgiveness. Some acts are minor, while others are unbearably hard if not impossible to forgive. Some people find it easier to forgive than others. It's YOUR journey, and I encourage you to be as gentle with yourself as you can through the process.
Allowing yourself to move through it on your own. We don't always get an apology for the hurtful action, and yet, releasing the experience through forgiveness again gets that energy out of your body. It's isn't about how they feel; it's about how YOU feel and how you WANT to feel.
Mostly, my wish for you is to realize you deserve to live a life with people who appreciate you as you do them. If you are expecting perfection, you have set yourself up for disappointment. However, you still get to choose with who you share your unique and beautiful self. I encourage you to see just how special you are and release those from your world who cannot see you.
Until next time, I SEE YOU, and I hope YOU see you too.
I choose to live in a state of LOVE.
Words to LOVE by:
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Mahatma Gandhi
"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
- Mark Twain
"It's not an easy journey to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place because it frees you."
- Tyler Perry