This is a deep one, so make sure you’re in the right place and frame of mind before continuing to read this.
Forgiveness can be a tricky thing. It’s a place we get stuck and resist. People forgive in different ways. There are stories of those who forgive to the point of taking under their wing the murderer of their own child. There are stories where people have called up their perpetrator to say: “I forgive you”. Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
It’s also easy to resist. “I can’t do that, they deserve to pay for what they did” … maybe that’s true. But holding on to resentment and anger continues to tie us to that person. Forgiveness is cutting the unhealthy ties. It’s not about becoming friends, or even keeping company with that person. Nor is it about forgetting (this is not a forgive and forget). It’s letting go of our holding on to something and allowing it to continue to cause us harm.
“This is where the power of forgiveness lies–not in losing sight of the humanity of the person while responding to the wrong with clarity and firmness.” –Dalai Lama
I would add: let go of your own guilt if you were unable to respond to the wrong in a just way. Forgive yourself.
Pause and Practice: Can you think of a person who has done you wrong in your life? How do you think of them? What emotions are bubbling up?
Can you look at this person as another human being? That’s it. Nothing extra. No adjectives, no: “a ____ human being”. Simply another human being. Can you sit for just a moment in your head with this person who is simply another human being?
You might consider journaling. Journaling is a great practice in exploring and letting go. Sometimes, it’s useful to remember that paper can be burned.