Many people have asked me why I have chosen for my second book to write about forgiveness? In my first book ‘Coming Home to You’, I focused on the many ways we can live a joyful and happy life, by reclaiming our relationship with ourselves. Once we balance our relationship with our body, our mind and our spirit, we find that we have harmony with all of life and the happiness and peace that comes from this will naturally flow to us. Yet, as I speak to many people through my work and travels, I find that many live in a stuck-ness that is not borne from their inner world, but from their outer one.
We find ourselves dwelling on past sleights, hurts, transgressions and bodily assaults that have left us feeling weak and vulnerable. In a world that feels scary and hostile most of the time, the one thing we most want to avoid is feeling vulnerable, so we become hard, close our heart and vent our anger at the source of the cause of our anguish. In many ways this is a natural reflex built into us, that we may not even realise is there until it has come out through our words or deeds.
So if it is one of our most natural human responses, why should we think about changing it? What we create from these natural human responses is a spiral of decline in our relationship with others which leads to the madness that we see in the world around us. Our lack of forgiveness is part of the destructive cycle that we see in our age. It leads to conflict, war, aggression, hate and deep unhappiness in our hearts. Yet it is possible to transcend these responses, to find a different path, one that is no less easy, but leads to a place of healing, understanding and ultimately to peace. Forgiveness is not an easy concept to live by, but as we see in our daily lives and in our media every day, living in a world without forgiveness is not easy either. In fact, we can see that living without forgiveness can only ever lead us to destruction.
Three reasons why we need to work on our forgiveness:
- We become more humane, gentler and kinder, when we can learn to be tolerant and accepting of the differences of those around us. This is true in our personal relationships, but also in our work as well. Rather than living a life that is constantly fueled by irritation and annoyance, that can spill into anger, we can be calm and learn to see the differences in others as a way of learning more deeply about ourselves.
- We can appreciate that we have no real control of the world around us. When we live from our ego state, we are only concerned with control. We want to know that our plans will go exactly as we have laid them out, we want people to behave they way we expect them to and we want the world to comply with our own view of how it should be. Living from this ego state is a sure path towards madness. We are warring as much with ourselves as everyone around us in our wish to find the illusion of control. Once we let go of this illusion we can learn to be free and accept and respond more appropriately to what is happening around us.
- We take full responsibility for our emotions and only our emotions. What happens if we are hurt of have suffered transgressions from others, is that we start to not only trap the trauma in our body, allowing it to fester and grow, but we also start to project emotions we want the other person to feel. We want them to know our pain, to know suffering and feel the same indignation that we felt at their hand. This is a false path, that will only prolong our own suffering. We have no control over anyone else’s emotions and spending time trying to come up with ways to influence them is taking precious time from our own life when we could be coming to terms with our own needs and learn to move on. We are continuing an emotional entanglement with someone that continues to erode our sense of who we are. At some point you have to ask; is it worth it? Is my peace of mind less important that my projections towards another. Our path to healing starts with attending to our own emotional needs, healing our own wounds and forgiving ourselves first. Anything else binds us to our suffering.
Would you be willing to share your experiences of forgiveness? Throughout August, I’ll be launching a survey to gather views on how forgiveness is experienced as part of my research for my book. If you have the time and are willing to share, please click HERE.