In this second half Forgiveness I want to address some ‘how to forgive’ matters and their impediments. Again I want to reiterate I work on this as anyone else. Sometimes I feel I am a Polynesian teaching about icebergs.   I know I will be quickly challenged with concrete examples to show “How can I forgive THAT?” and “Here’s an example which can’t be forgiven”.

You don’t need me to tell you true forgiveness is the hardest thing. It doesn’t count if it is easy. You will never want to do it, so the ‘hows’ won’t matter. I think have to get to the point you can’t tolerate yourself anymore, and you have not choice but to do so.
Often patients ask me how do I forgive? Just tell me how. What should I do?  Once in awhile I tell people who are demanding a simple solution to a complex process “How about going up to the person and say ‘all is forgiven’. Give that a try.

Here are a few tips I have found useful :

The wisest thing to do is to try to forgive as quickly as possible.  Sometimes I ask my patients how long do you really need to process something? If I said you could forgive and be done with it in five hours, or five days, or five months, or five years, wouldn’t you want to be over and done with it as soon as possible?   Unfortunately a quick rate of forgiveness and healing often violates many tribal codes of the time. I believe healing rapidly is NOT an insult to your injury.  It is NOT a sign your hurt was ‘nothing’.

It helps to examine your hurt at a distance, in archetypal or metaphysical perspectives. Detach from the passion. This helps you look upon the hurtful one as a messenger of a lesson rather than the someone who has caused the lesson. “Don’t shoot the messenger”, as it were. Fools suffer pain and just gets scarred. A Student’s pain teaches something for growth.  Say to them or to yourself ‘thank you for the lesson’ and let them go.

Sometimes I tell a patient to write down the consequences of not forgiving has done to you in your life. Examine this and ask yourself is this the price you want to continue to pay?

Here’s an exercise most find either bewildering or repellent : Rewrite the inner-script and tell yourself  “That was one of the most important things that has ever happened to me”. This may evoke some gratitude for the lesson and the growth it gave you despite the pain. And when you think about it, each pain/hurt puts you in the same decision: you can either get bitter or better – in the end, these are two choices.

Another good thing to help the Forgiveness process is to stop talking about the wound. Stop repeating history in your conversations. After it’s been witnessed a few times, be done with talking about it.

Be mindful of Wound/victim vocabulary.  Here’s an example: I once was with a friend when we were approached by a stranger who asked us if we would like to contribute to fundraiser. It was being conducted by the Catholic Church. My friend said “The Catholic Church? Oh, no. I can’t, I was terribly abused by the nuns in grade school”.  He began a ten minute diatribe about how he suffered under the nuns in his school days to this young woman who was merely asking for coins to help the earthquake homeless in Haiti.  Later, I asked my friend why did he tell the woman all about his abuses. He found my question bewildering. “But I was abused!” he replied. I replied “I know that, but did she have to know that?”  I was curious as to why he felt compelled to tell a stranger all his personal life when a simple ‘No thanks” would have sufficed. His eyes narrowed and I could see I had lost him. I had ‘challenged’ his wound. He broke off the friendship without saying so soon afterwards.

The armamentaria for Forgiveness are few, but with courage, determination and a lot of self-love it can be done.