Sunday, 5 May 2013


This is going to be one of the riskiest posts I write. I do not want to pretend that I know a lot about forgiveness. I have not read any philosophical, psychological or self help books on the subject. I have never taken a weekend workshop in forgiveness. I just have had to forgive people in my life and in the process I have learned a few things that I want to share.

There are 4 types of forgiveness that I have run into.

1. Self forgiveness. Before you can forgive anyone, you have to forgive yourself for your role in the matter. Even if you did nothing obvious to create the situation, there is always some self healing to do. Practice with a mantra "I forgive myself" is enough. Say it over and over again, in your head, in the mirror, while you are driving out loud. Say it till you believe it.
There are many ways to self forgive, try to learn as many as possible, find your own, practice all the time. You can not forgive someone else if you do not forgive yourself first.

2. Mutual forgiveness. This is ideal. You have forgiven yourself, or really started to forgive yourself and the other person has done that as well. You meet and find common ground. This is great. An apology, an explanation, a retraction, a hug, a believable promise of change, a commitment to another way, a letting go. This is the enlightened way, the peace makers way, the truth seekers way. WE meet together. I find that when the parties meet it is wise to have a few techniques to heal. There are many techniques out there, do some reading and research. My favorite is simple "I" statements. Try to own your emotions by saying "I felt like this" instead of you made me feel this way. Come from your heart, expect nothing. Also I find this is best approached by the person who inflicted the most harm. If it is mutual infliction then be there first, it does not matter, it just matters that you move on. If one party was egregious, then they should take initiative.  It helps create safety.

3. No takers. One party does not want or is not ready to forgive or be forgiven. They avoid you, dance around the subject. Maybe they attacked you and continue to show signs of violence. You are not safe. Whatever the reason you can still forgive. Prayer of "love and forgiveness" is great. So is anger venting. Try going for a walk or drive alone and pretend talking to that person. Say your part. Do it often and see where your conversations take you. Write the other person without sending it. Get it out! Time will heal this wound. Eventually the context of you life changes and you no longer will want to hold that anger. Eventually the pain of holding on will become greater then the pain of letting go.

4. I must..... You work or live or exist in proximity with this person and can not avoid contact with them. They might still call you names or lie or whatever they did but you must let it go to save your life or livelihood or community. Try indifference, it works for me. When you have to be with that person and they absolutely refuse to change just lower your expectations of them. Ask nothing of them, only the necessary stuff. Mantras, prayer, everything you can do. These people will challenge you but if you live in anger you are not living fully. Do not give them power, give them your polite kindness.

Of course you could just do nothing and steam or repress. That is a disaster if you are wondering and if I have to explain why then you are reading the wrong blog.

Forgiveness  is an art. I am not very good at it yet. Any tips would be much appreciated.

My most important tip is keep it simple. Don't try and understand why the other person did what they did, you will never guess the full story. Let is go, find a way, its not worth it to carry around.

Peace and equality

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