June 6th / Jake White
When we look at our challenging situations or people we have to see how we are tied to it. In any situation we get the chance to let go of our challenging emotions and to move into a deeper connection with ourselves. What we can hopefully see when we look closely at our challenges is that we need to begin to forgive ourselves for what we have decided to believe in.
Beliefs are our ways of externalizing situations and creating toxicity in our relationships and when we judge a person or situation as right or wrong, we are leaving ourselves out of the equation. It might be much easier to look externally to judge or condemn but ultimately this diverts the attention away from ourselves. Forgiveness asks us to look closely at ourselves to see what a challenging situation brings up for us and what it is that keeps us in a place of anger, resentment, frustration, disappointment, or conflict. The truth is that we may have a lot of validity in our frustrations and resentments, but ultimately these emotions keep forgiveness at arms length.
When we are running through our resentments, it is helpful to look closely at how we are reacting to the situation. The resentment hurts our body and causes energy that is tense and anxious. It is this connection to the body that helps us realize who we are actually hurting when we stay stuck in negative thoughts and feelings. By looking closely at the energy in the body, we can become aware that we are creating toxic emotional and mental patterns. This reaction to a current challenge can help us see how we use resentment in order to protect ourselves. Often this protection is built up over time and is rooted in our beliefs about ourselves. When we look closely at our resentments we notice that in most cases it is tied to our past, and our current situation is asking us to let go and forgive.
A great example for me of moving into forgiveness and seeing the underlying belief that I needed to acknowledge was with men who I was holding anger, frustration, and resentment toward. In most of these relationships I had experienced some type personal criticism or repeated confrontation. Most of the time I experienced this abuse as they pointed out a flaw that I was guarding or protecting. If we have nothing to protect then most of the time a criticism will roll off of us, in the case of these men they were pointing out wounds that were already in place. As a young kid, I believed that there was something wrong with the way that I was. Other men and boys seemed more aggressive, confident, and bold while I felt sensitive and quiet. It was my belief about myself that there was something wrong with me that kept me in a place of conflict. I had condemned the quiet, sensitive, and vulnerable parts of myself in order to be strong. This placed me in situations where I did not measure up to my own expectations and placed me in relationships with men where I guarded my sensitivity in order to fit in. When I struggled to prove myself, I would often crack under pressure. When this happened I was open to criticism and my vulnerability would shine through. My boldness and confidence was a shaky structure that often came down when I needed to perform. This led to a lot of anger towards men and even more anger toward myself for not being the confident and bold young man that I strived to be.
Forgiveness brought me to a place of humility and to a deeper understanding of myself. It helped me see that there was a belief that I had about myself that kept me in a place of conflict. When I looked closely at this belief I could see that I had developed a judgment that there was something wrong with me in comparison to my Father, my Grandfather, and to the other men in my life. Once I began to identify a core belief I was able to forgive myself for believing that there was something wrong with me. I could also then let go of my expectations and my resentments for the men that had belittled me or exposed my vulnerability.
Through forgiveness, I was able to see what was truly in need of my attention: my core belief that I wasn’t enough. In any of our conflicts we are guarding a deeper belief that we have about ourselves. By observing our judgments we are able to see how this connects back to our own feelings of vulnerability and insecurity. When we can come back from our judgments, we are able to release and let go. We can forgive those involved and most importantly, forgive the part of us that condemned and labeled ourselves. When we forgive our own self-judgment we become the sensitive and vulnerable person we were meant to be. We no longer circulate in negative judgments and reactivity in order to protect ourselves. Forgive the people involved in any situation, but ultimately forgive yourself for believing that there was something that you needed to defend or protect. Forgiveness is an act of letting go so your most authentic self can shine through.
An exercise in forgiveness
Write down the situation as if you were looking down on it. Include who is involved and what is happening. Look at it as if you were not involved. As you explore the situation, check in with your body and see how you are feeling as you write.
Once you notice the feelings, write them down and begin to sit with them. The feelings could be anger, frustration, sadness. Once you identify the feeling, it is easier to let go of your mind that labels others as the cause. Just assume that the feeling that you are sitting with is already in a place of forgiveness.
As you sit with the feeling, you can begin to see if there is a deeper insecurity that you are protecting. See if the relationship to this person is tied to a belief such as being wrong, not good enough, unwanted. From this place you can forgive yourself for this belief and stay engaged with the vulnerability. You are becoming more secure in your feelings and forgiving the people who are the perceived cause of internal conflict.
Always attempt to bring any complex external situation back to a feeling in the body. This brings us back to the source of conflict, which is always an internal conflict that is projected onto external causes. Forgiveness is a process of intentionally letting go of internal conflict and forgiving those that may have caused us struggle or pain. If we recognize the source of conflict in ourselves and have decided to make healthier choices or leave a painful situation than it is much easier to look back and forgive. If we are still stuck in a painful situation then forgiveness is a process of seeing and feeling the painful situation that we keep ourself in. The above steps are a way for us to identify the situation, the feelings involved, and the beliefs that keep us stuck in unhealthy situations. When we forgive we are able to discover our role in unhealthy patterns and then begin to move into a healthier relationship with both ourselves and our life
Forgive, Forgive, Forgive