aving just recently experienced what seemed like the biggest whirlwind of my lifetime, I have somehow earned the ‘experience bragging right’ to discuss forgiveness.
Now a while back I read up an article that describes clearly what it means to ask for forgiveness and how to get the right message across to the other person that we are indeed sorry, truly mean it and are not just saying it as an act just to keep things quiet momentarily.
According to the article, aside from the element of genuine remorse and regret for what one has done wrongfully to the other person, the more of communicating ones acceptance of wrongful doing is as vital in the forgiveness process. The one seeking to be forgiven had to come completely bare and express clearly in words and commensurate action what they are sorry about.
I have been on both ends of this forgiveness transaction and can say how very true this assertion can be. A little more often on the seeking side than I would ever want to.
The most recent of all however is one that no article or study can ever prepare anyone for, one that I’ve also experienced but never in this magnitude and to this extent. It’s the act of SELF FORGIVENESS.
You see, in those situations where you have to give an apology, no matter how vicious or unforgivable the offense might have been, you still get the benefit of what we call in law as fair hearing’ and can at least let everything out bare, rid yourself of the inner burden of the offense committed regardless of whether or not the plea is accepted. You are no longer burdened with the guilt or at least not solely anymore.
Being on the receiving end of the plea absolutely has to be the easiest part in all this, you get a free mind and of course the delight and pleasure of gloating in self righteousness, enjoy it, you’ve earned that badge
The deadliest and most brutal of them all I can say so myself is being on both sides of the plea at the exact same time, not because you are to proud to give the plea to an actual ‘third party’ but because there just isn’t one or you don’t even get that luxury.
In this case it’s either an offense committed to a loved one that you can’t even bring yourself even start carving the word ‘I’m sorry’ in your head much less on your lips.
Even worse, the demise of that person offended, you literally have to carry that burden of guilt and drag same to your grave, literally.
The process then begins with you even trying to clarify to yourself if indeed you were the person that committed such grievous act, then you wonder how you could have even brought yourself to convince yourself at the point of acting it out that it was even an option at all. You live in self denial for a very long time then you begin to try to rationalize the action in your head, making it at least not as grievous and offensive as it really is.
You weigh it from all ends and angles, seek justification and when all that seems to fail and you tend to finally réalize that there is no escaping this reality, you are indeed as evil as everyone else is thinking you to be or at least that your act was indeed grievous. You find release however you think best but usually through seeking out something or someone else we believe is with a greater influence to drown all that guilt
A lot resort to drinks, narcotics, sex, anything to numb the feeling. Some however resort to pen on paper, feel-good music, dance, and constantly drowning out thought patterns and handing them to whatever higher power we believe exists that will at least, albeit momentarily take that pain and burden of guilt away.
The problem however is that key word, momentarily. Until we go through that process of indeed dumping the burden from within and deciding to let go.
This is in fact a deeper and extremely intense process that has cost many several millions in therapy
For those of us that can’t readily afford therapy or don’t at least believe in paying some persons loads of money just to seat on a chair across and play referee, here are some practical way that has and is in fact helping me through the process of what I call ‘self therapy’.
At first when the realization of the magnitude of the situation first hits you, what you need more than ever is a moment of clarity without influence of external opinion. This is not the time to seek external validation or support to how ‘not so terrible’ the act or inaction is.
There has to be a moment of self searching, seeking to know for a fact and in truth what the situation truly means to you. The important parties in this process is You vs You in the court of law presided over by You. You are the Judge and the Jury, you have the Power of Attorney and every other Power and backing of the Law of the Universe to convict or acquit yourself. YOU are in the witness box as well as the legal defense and prosecutor, the Plaintiff and Defendant all at once.
Your first and major role is to clearly determine what the facts of the case before you are, the worst place for you to be right now is to try to hide from the facts of this case, every evidence and thought process is admissible and every witness’s account and testimony is very vital.
Where people find this process challenging is staying through the fact finding process. This is the foundation and a very vital process to finding release. What really happened? How is your mind interpreting the whole situation. At what point could you have done things differently and why was that option not explored? We’re other factors considered or was this a plain act of selfishness and insensitivity or was it just a naive act or an act from complete ignorance.
Give yourself that complete freedom to truly express what this means to you, this is very key, YOU are the key to freeing yourself of this burden hence the only definition that matters is yours.
Usually in therapy, this is the part you voice these emotions out to someone, in the absence of a therapist or referee, a pen and paper or in some cases actually verbalizing this to an empty room goes a really long way. Let everything out completely, say it out loud while being completely honest to yourself. Avoid playing the blame game, you are the subject focus and pointing fingers right now only worsens your case.
The next phase would be the phase of complete acceptance of guilt, shame, pain, blame and or whatever else must have come from that self searching and self conviction. Accept completely the role you played and accept that there probably wasn’t much you could have done differently given the amount of information available to you at that point or if otherwise, accept, just accept. This phase is what I call ‘ embrace your guilt’.
Now give yourself the permission to forgive, let go. Self rejection and prosecution is the last thing you want to do now, just let go. I find meditation to be a great tool at this point, find release, usually this is the part where most people cry, do what you have to, let it all out. Imagine yourself in that space of utmost calm and just let go.
Next and final step, LIVE, live freely. Dance, sing, travel, exercise, anything that you enjoy doing that makes you feel alive. Live again, enjoy the new life you’ve worked so hard to get yourself, give yourself permission to live again.
And of course, by all means practice this process as often as needed until you find complete release and quiet.
You’ve done great. Now go and sin no more ..smiles. Oh well!
I know one of the biggest challenge at some point is dealing with the outside world. I’d say honestly that the biggest and most important party to the case in question is You and since you’ve done all the above, I dare say this whole cares what the rest of the world thinks’.
The above is not a textbook solution copied from some expert in psychology. If it is any help, this is from personal experience and trust me, it really worked for me and I believe it will for you.