“Those you do not forgive you fear.
And no one reaches love with fear beside him.”
– A Course In Miracles
I was in class recently (I’m earning my Ph.D in psychology)
+ my professor asked a question that sent me reeling into a spiral
of self-indulgent analytic thought.
“What is your relationship to anger + resentment?
And how does holding on to it serve you?”
“Well, I’m just fine with anger + I’m certainly not holding on to any,”
I mentally scoffed, peering around to gauge my classmates’ reactions.
To my shock (and relief) several cohorts took this opportunity to come clean. With an open heart + mind, one after the other admitted their relationship with anger was a tumultuous push and pull. They admitted that there was at least one person in their life that they remained angry with + unable to forgive.
I quickly realized my feelings around anger + forgiveness needed some fine tuning.
Forgiveness is a bedrock of a spiritual practice.
It’s not easy.
In fact, rarely, easy.
This…. we all know.
Yet, there is no denying that holding a grudge limits our potential.
Keeps us numb and stuck in victim mode.
“An unforgiving thought does many things.
In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path.
Distortion is its purpose…
It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear
to pose a contradiction to its point of view.” –Janis Spring
Inflamed emotional irritation.
Like ice water in the crevices of a tree trunk, prolonged anger, justified or exaggerated,
will seep into your well being + crack you. Slowly or quickly, time is of no concern for the unforgiving thought.
Yet, with such clearly unnerving effects, why don’t we don’t forgive more readily?
What stops us?
:: I am right and you are wrong thinking
:: The fear that if we forgive we become a “doormat” + let other people walk all over us
:: The pain is so traumatic that we repress it + try to pretend it doesn’t exist.
Here’s the cosmic twist, though.
Whatever your idiosyncratic reasons for harboring an unforgiving thought,
the corrosive effects are the same for all of us. All routes lead to spiritual stagnation.
The seemingly innocuous investments we make in
maintaining our anger is not without roots. Self-preservation may be well intentioned but can be seeded in the heaviness of judgement, separation + righteousness. And to varying degrees it is a part of all of our bio-psychological makeups.
The trick to mitigating its power is to shine a light on it.
It is here, in this place, that we choose happiness over righteousness.
(At least more often.)
How to practice forgiving:
- Who do you need to forgive? It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. (It’s also safe to say you may need to forgive yourself for a few things)
- Make a compassion list. Don’t judge, just write.
- Are you willing to see these people with more compassion? Willingness is the key. You only need to be willing.
- What part did you play in this relationship and/or situation? (Sometimes your part is just that you stayed around too long)
- Remind yourself that forgiveness is a choice
If you like mantra’s + are feeling stuck with forgiving you might
find this one helpful in letting go. Feel free to insert their name + repeat this quietly
to yourself: “I am willing to forgive you and I release you.”
I happen to enjoy combining mantra’s with action so another
option is to repeat the mantra to yourself while working out.
Patricia Moreno, intenSati Revolutionary, is the master of this.
Who could you be without your anger?
What could you accomplish without that weight?
As you give you will receive.
As you forgive you will be forgiven.
Interested in laser focused one-on-one treatment? Hire me. You won’t regret it
Image credit: Paris in Four Months
© 2012 Danielle Dowling