Approach Forgiveness Through Questioning, Journaling & Meditation
Blank pages aren’t views I’m usually afraid of. Blank pages are not objects I’m reluctant to approach; more often than not, they excite me, they spark my curiosity, they represent possibilities. But today, I’m introducing the topic of forgiveness, and given its nature, today the blank page feels a bit too impressive for my liking.
When this happens, I tend to start with the basics: what does the dictionary have to say about this word that is so hard to even begin to introduce? That’s where I start. It’s something.
Forgiveness, according to the dictionary then, is the act of or willingness to forgive. Hm. This is called a ‘circular definition’ in terminology (defeats the purpose of a definition).
To the definition of forgive we go then, which means:
Take a couple of breaths and close your eyes.
Then read that definition once more.
I want to invite you to (this idea is absolutely not spontaneous) take a piece of paper hanging around and write down what thoughts come to mind after reading this. I’ll do it too. Take 3 minutes - no more (and don’t look at what I wrote first!):
what does forgiveness mean to you?
*3 minutes later*
This is what came up for me:
There are two reasons why forgiveness is challenging: 1) it requires us to go THROUGH anger, blame, resentment and the desire to avenge and 2) move past these emotions to allow for acceptance, which is what forgiveness is about, after all.
Once you’re (honestly) willing to forgive, you’re entering the realm of forgiveness (it’s in the definition!)
Whether it is ourselves we have to forgive, or loved ones (or people who are not part of our lives anymore), there’s a lot to go through before getting to that place of acceptance, a place of clarity, where we can see what there is to learn from the situation, and how the situation has served us.
Here are some key areas you might want to assess:
Yourself (a full area, yes!) - have your hurt yourself? Dismissed important things? Acted in a way that didn’t match your aspirations, ambitions, needs? Are you angry at yourself? Are you blaming yourself for a past event or experience, for feeling a certain way?
Love relationships - have you hurt people? Have people hurt you?
Friendships - do you blame your friends for something? Are you blaming yourself for influencing a relationship negatively?
Family - have members of your family disrespected you? Have you?
Work - have you let yourself or colleagues down? Do you blame yourself for acting in a way, or not acting a way you were supposed to?
Before getting to that place of acceptance and forgiveness, we have to actively work on feelings, take time to look in the mirror, go through all that comes up with a fine-tooth comb. Once we’ve identified the areas or situations we need to look at, some questions we might want to ask ourselves can take the following shapes:
How do I feel about this person, this situation?
What can I do to feel these feelings so they’ll leave me?
Do I need to go for a run, journal, dance, share how I feel with someone, through writing, maybe?
What is it that makes me feel this way? Did someone not respect what’s important to me? Did I not respect what is important to me? How has this situation influenced me, positively or negatively?
Answers might take time to come. They might surprise us, they might not. But whatever we find - it is through this practice, the detective work, that we can move forward and let go - we certainly don’t want to feel angry for the rest of our lives, because then anger turns into hate and hate - like blame and the desire to take revenge - is destructive and leads to absolutely nothing - nothing - good. But I’m sure you knew that, already...
Interested in taking this practice further?
You can learn to meditate in a way that suits your needs - you’ll find in there lots of questions to ask yourself how you want to meditate so it becomes a practice that serves you. There are also a couple of tips and examples included.
Feel free to share your own definition of forgiveness below! What came up in this short journaling exercise? Did you learn anything you didn’t know? Did you confirm things you already knew? You can comment here or write to me and let me know.