Forgiveness is a funny thing.
It is something that we think of as a virtue.
We are amazed when people are able to offer it in extreme situations.
AND it is the hardest thing to offer to ourselves. Even when we know intellectually we did the best we could, we can beat ourselves up for years for making the “wrong” choice.
If you have not forgiven yourself for past mistakes or if you have not forgiven yourself for allowing others to hurt you, it will be very hard to move forward.
When we beat ourselves up for being wrong there is a part of us that will prevent us from having better than we have right now.
Because we screwed it up in the past we feel that we don’t deserve better.
Forgiveness Can Be Hard
I am going to be honest, forgiveness can be a scary thing. When we forgive we feel like we are saying:
- It is ok I made a bad choice
- Since I forgive the bad choice I can make it again
- I deserve to be punished for the bad choice
I have a simple way to approach forgiveness that will help you get past this resistance.
Listen to this short audio that will help you to see forgiveness in a new way right now. It even includes a tap-along to help you use EFT to forgive right away.
You can find a full transcript of the audio below.
This Really Works
I am going to let you in on a little secret.
In this audio I say, “let’s pretend that I need to forgive someone that we’ll call John.”
I wasn’t pretending. It was something that I really needed to do. The short tap-along shifted so much. The freedom I found in forgiveness created so much space I started getting things done I had no idea this was affecting.
I know it is a little scary, but do it now! You will feel so much better and start making even better choices to move towards your goals.
The topic for today and this is something that I want to just find a few minutes to talk about for a really long time. Just because over the course of the last month or so, this is something that’s been coming up a lot in conversations with clients, in things that I’ve been teaching in different classes, in different speaking settings, and some things that have resurfaced in my own life that I think it’s really important that we revisit and we spend some time with, this idea of forgiveness.
As many of you know, I spend time each month when I’m not travelling, I’m helping out with an anger management class in one of the local county jails here in my area. It’s really awesome, and my favorite topic to talk to the guys about is forgiveness. It’s one of the hardest topics to talk about because many of them find themselves in a circumstance where they found themselves incarcerated because they were responding to someone else, or somebody else turned them in, or somebody turned on them, or someone did something very early on in their life that created a whole cascade of problems that put them in a really tough spot. The choices that have led them to be incarcerated are based off of responding to these things. So, the instant that we bring up the idea of forgiveness, it’s something that’s really, really hard to wrestle with – and not just for them, I think for all of us. I think forgiveness is really hard.
The other way that it came forward in a really unique way recently, a week and a half ago, I was in South Carolina and Brad and I got a chance to do some presentations in front of about 650 Middle School kids. The thrust of our time was around bullying. One of the things that I did before we delved into the bullying topic was spend a little time talking about why bullies bully. It’s not just someone is a bully because they are the classic bullies where they do it all the time. I mean, anybody who does a mean, spiteful act towards someone else could be called a bully, even if it was a single instance. It was a bullying act. It might not be their identity in the way that we label them. And so, we spend a lot of time wrestling with why bullies bully, and why we make those choices as emotionally poor choices. And then we spend some time talking about when we recognize the fact that bullies are bullies because of lots of things that led them to poor choices. We’re not saying its ok when we understand that, and forgiveness is much about that. It’s a sense of coming to some understanding, but it’s not a sense of letting it go.
And so, it’s really important when we look at this idea of forgiveness is to understand what forgiveness is not. When I forgive someone, I am not saying its ok what they did. When I forgive someone, I’m not saying that I want it to happen again. When I forgive someone, I’m not saying that the person who did the wrong,shouldn’t have some sense of justice poured out in their life. When I’m forgiving someone, I’m not saying that I deserve what happened to me. And when I forgive someone, I’m not saying I created the circumstance that put me in this place. And, when I’m forgiving someone, I’m not forgetting. We often say, at least in the Western world we use this phrase a lot, “to forgive and forget.” I don’t think forgetting is about something, because if we think that we’re forgiving and forgetting, it’s almost as if you did me wrong, I’m going to forgive you and I’m going to forget it happened, therefore I’m going to put myself in danger of letting it happen again. It’s important I learn. It’s possible for me to forgive someone, but also, create a circumstance where I’m not going to allow them to take advantage of me again. You know, I leave out some money on my counter and someone takes it. I can forgive them for that, but I’m also going to pay attention the next time they come to my house. I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over and I’m not going to stress greatly about it, but it’s something I’m going to pay attention to. I’m not going to be in a place where I’ve completely forgotten.
So, I think it’s important to recognize that when we’re moving to this place of forgiveness, because I think it opens us up a little bit. A lot of times, when I’m really struggling, like I said, that’s something that resurfaced in my own life with needing to forgive someone. Before I even start thinking about what forgiveness is, and what forgiveness looks like, I find it really healthy and helpful to tap through this stuff. So, let’s pretend that I need to forgive someone that we’ll call John. Before I get to any of the forgiveness stuff, the way I would tap is, I would just start tapping and you can do this right now if you want.
I’m just starting on the side of my hand, and I say: By forgiving John, I’m not saying its ok he did what he did.
Tippy top of the head: By forgiving John, I’m not saying that he can do it again.
Eyebrow: By forgiving John, I’m not saying that I don’t want him to receive justice for the choices that he made. Not that I’m wishing bad things upon him but when we do things wrong there are consequences for that, and I’m not saying he shouldn’t face those.
Side of the eye: When I forgive John, I’m not saying I deserve what happened.
Under the eye: When I forgive John, I’m not saying I created the circumstance and he has no responsibility for it.
Under the nose: When I forgive John, I’m not saying that I’m going to forget what happened. It’s able for me to be able to forgive this, but still remembering what happened so that I can keep myself safe in the future.
And so, by doing something as simple like that as tapping, what I’m going to do is I’m going to clear out a lot of the resistance to moving towards forgiveness, because I’m taking all of the penalties that come along with forgiveness, and I’m wiping away at least for the moment, so it’s easier for me to approach what’s going on. Because, when I don’t forgive someone, what I’m doing is, I’m wishing ill upon them and I’m taking the poison myself. I know that’s cliché, and we hear that a lot in change work, but that’s really the truth. You know, oftentimes, the people who we need to forgive, they’re not giving us any thought at all. The people who have wronged us, they might not even remember doing it. If they do remember it, they have so much going on in their lives, they’re not thinking about us in most cases. Particularly, if it’s a grudge that we’ve been holding for decades, even more so if it’s a grudge that we’re holding against someone who is no longer alive, it’s possible for us to hold on to something like that. What we’re doing is, we continue to stay emotionally tangled in what’s going on. And so, it doesn’t do us a great deal of good to hold on to it. So, by creating the simple space of allowing ourselves to recognize what forgiveness is not, it’s going to open us up to a place to be where forgiveness is. In my mind, forgiveness is nothing more than consciously choosing to no longer be entangled in the past emotionally.
So, basically, what I’m doing is, I’m choosing to stop spending energy in the past because when I don’t forgive someone, I’m taking some of this moment energy, thoughts, feelings and I’m spending it in something in the past as if it’s happening right now. When I’m not forgiving someone, not only am I holding a grudge against them, but I’m choosing to re-live the wound over and over and over again. It’s almost like I have a bruise, and I just keep poking it over and over again, which is preventing the bruise from healing, and it’s making sure that I feel the pain again and again. And so, when I then move to forgive someone, I can tap on this idea, and you can do this with me if you like. We will start on the chin this time.
Chin: When I choose to forgive John, what I’m choosing to do is to no longer be emotionally tied up in this past instance.
Collarbone: More than likely, John doesn’t give this transgression any thought at all.
Under the arm: It doesn’t do me any good to keep re-living this wound over and over again.
Tippy top of the head: It’s really disappointing what happened.
Eyebrow: And I was really hurt by what happened.
Side of the eye: But as long as I keep dwelling on it, I’m wishing ill on him, and I’m poisoning myself.
Under the eye: And I choose to no longer do that any more.
Under the nose: I choose to learn from this moment.
Chin: I choose to remember the lessons I need to learn from this moment.
Collarbone: It was something that happened to me.
Under the arm: But it is not me.
Side of the hand: It’s not my identity.
Eyebrow: And it’s not something I need to stay stuck in.
Side of the eye: I’m choosing to forgive John not for John’s sake.
Under the eye: But for my sake.
Under the nose: This moment does not deserve any more of my emotion.
Chin: So I can be present to this moment.
Collarbone: And it’s really good to go back and re-remind ourselves. By forgiving John, I’m not saying it’s ok.
Under the arm: By forgiving John, I’m not saying he has permission to do it again.
Side of the hand: By forgiving John, I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve to live up to the responsibility of his choices.
Tippy top of the head: By forgiving John, I’m not saying that I deserve this.
Eyebrow: By forgiving John, I’m not saying that I have created this.
Side of the eye: By forgiving John, I’m not forgetting what happened. I’m choosing to no longer be emotionally entangled on that.
Under the eye: Because I am worthy of being emotionally free of this.
Under the nose: So I can be fully present to the moment…
Chin: And what’s coming to me now.
Take a nice deep breath.
I’ve found out that if we approach forgiveness in this way, what it’s going to do is, it’s going to open us up and it’s going to free us. And maybe tapping through that once is enough, and maybe revisiting that something you need to do lots and lots of times, but that’s ok. And just giving yourself the permission to keep getting yourself free. And like I said, by helping us to recognize what’s not forgiveness, it makes forgiveness a lot easier. This I think goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: We need to apply this towards ourselves as well. That oftentimes, because we understand our own motivation, how we’re treating ourselves, we go through the same problem where we keep saying, “I can’t believe I did that stupid thing!” And we spend energy emotionally in the past in the exact same way, and we can do the exact same thing. “By forgiving myself, I’m not saying that the choice was ok. By forgiving myself, I’m not saying I want to make that choice again. By forgiving myself, I’m not saying I deserve to make that choice. What I’m saying is, I’m choosing to learn from that moment and no longer be emotionally tied there.” By doing that, we’re going to find our way to some space and some clarity which just allows us to just not be stuck in the past. And, I know in my own life when I’m not stuck in the past, I make clearer choices. I make more inspired choices. It’s easier for me to move forward, and it’s easier for me to not self-sabotage myself.