Forgiveness is not condoning, but is a necessary step toward emotional healing
As a holistic health practitioner and transformational life coach, I typically work with individuals on a particular area of concern.When I’m invited to speak to a group of people, I try to address a topic of interest with a common denominator — something that allows us to all to be on the same page and on equal ground.
One thing that is common to us all at some point in our lives is this:
- We will need to forgive someone for something they did, or failed to do.
- We will need to receive forgiveness for something we did, or failed to do.
It’s my perspective that the place to start — the place to launch joy, hope, positive aspirations, and healing — begins with forgiveness.
Until that bit of housekeeping has been taken care of, everything else is futile.
It’s important to understand that forgiving is not the same as condoning; forgiveness doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness helps us to offload baggage that’s not serving us well; it helps us move forward less encumbered and lighter.
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change that begins when we’re ready to release the feelings associated with being a victim.
In stepping away from that role, we release the power the offending person and situation has in our life.
One of my clients shared this perspective: “I was in a self-imposed prison; the bars that held me captive were anger and hatred. The single key that unlocked the door and set me free was forgiveness. Not condoning what the other person did, but rather forgiving it. Not pretending that it didn’t happen, but acknowledging it.”
Catherine Ponder, a Unity minister and inspirational author, added this insight: “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
Have you forgiven those who’ve hurt or offended you, or are you harboring resentment and withholding forgiveness?Sometimes the person or people we need to forgive are still living; sometimes they’re not. Regardless, each of us must find our own way through the many layers of forgiveness.
I’ve found the following tangible exercise to be effective in either case. It’s also helpful in working with overwhelming sorrow or grief.
The Ashes Exercise
By hand, write out all of the details of the painful experience. Don’t use a computer. There’s something tremendously therapeutic and liberating about writing this out by hand.In story form, as if you’re a reporting journalist, write out the who, what, when, where, why, and how of it. In detail, write about how you think and how you feel as it relates to the matter. Capture on paper how it’s impacted your life on every level: body, mind, and spirit.
When you have everything written out — this may take a few days — wait for either a new moon (which represents new beginnings) or the full moon (which represents closure). Only you will know which time is right for you.
On the date you select, roll the pages in scroll fashion into a long, cylindrical tube. Then use a lighter and hold the paper over a large, fireproof container (a metal pot for cooking spaghetti noodles is ideal). As you’re burning the paper, state out loud:
By burning these remembrances, I lovingly forgive and release them from my life. I am no longer held hostage by this negative energy. I nurture my highest and best good with things that are positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing. In offloading this baggage, I have created space for joy. Thank you, and so it is.
Once the ashes have cooled, gather them and mix them with soil. Using a ceramic pot inside your home, or the ground outside, plant bulbs or a beautiful plant. This will serve as a visual reminder of your commitment to releasing negative energy and to move forward with forgiveness, for yourself and others.