Learning to Let Go and Live – with Forgiveness
By Lydia Wilson
For The Bali Times
KEROBOKAN ~ Last week I wrote about how the body, mind and spirit connection affect us. In this article I would like to share with you what I have learned about forgiveness, and how forgiving ourselves or others who have hurt us frees us from our painful past.
Have you ever had the experience of truly forgiving someone who has hurt you and you feel so much better and lighter afterwards? It feels like a heavy burden has been lifted out of you and you feel relieved and free of the past.
Here is a comment from a client of mine after a session on forgiveness: After the session, I was walking around with a huge smile on my face. I felt like somebody had stuck a needle in me and sucked out all the anger and hate that had been festering inside of me.
From my experiences in my practice with hundreds of clients who had been suffering from physical ailments – stress to mild to deep depression – it has often been a case of our fears and inability or not knowing how to completely forgive those who have hurt us in the past, such as our parents, siblings, school bullies, care givers, spouse and so on, and in a lot of times it is also not knowing how to forgive ourselves.
We sometimes feel angry with ourselves for being “naive” or being too trusting in letting it happen to us. Some of us hang on to our grudges because it scares us that if we let go, we might let ourselves be a victim again. We learned not to trust people to protect ourselves but in doing so we also often learned to be extremely untrusting of others. We learned to hate because it makes us feel safe so that we think we can make sure it won’t happen again to us. We feel sorry for ourselves and blame them for ruining our lives. But then we often forget the big question: When we hang on to our grudges, who suffers the most?
A lot of us have this mistaken thinking that when we hate someone, that person will suffer. And we cannot be more wrong. It is us who suffers the most. It drains us of our energies; it creates illnesses in our physical body and in our mental health. We become depressed; we cannot sleep; we get panic attacks. In heavier cases, we become so tired; life feels so dark; there is no motivation, no goal, no direction in life and the future is filled with fear.
Life is really strange, too. When we hang on to our grudges and feel sorry for ourselves, we tend to keep meeting others who treat us the same way as those who hurt us before. It’s like different scenarios, but the same story. Or the opposite can happen: we sometimes become the very people who badly treat those we care about the most, such as our own children, our partners, in the same way we were treated by those who hurt us in the past. In doing so, we feel very guilty soon afterwards and become angry with ourselves for having the same character as the people we detest the most. And we can’t seem to get out of this pattern of behavior.
True forgiveness frees us from our fears and it leads us to the path of love. For once we have found true forgiveness, we know there is actually nothing to forgive, because everyone wishes to be happy and all of us are doing our best in the way we know how in our search of happiness.
Some would ask: Why am I still feeling bad or still have these physical tensions or illnesses even though I have forgiven them? One of the most likely reasons why it is still happening is because we haven’t truly forgiven them. In order to truly forgive someone, we need to truly know what made them do what they did or what made them the way they are. You might say that you already know the reasons. And I would say that perhaps you only know it in your logical mind. If this is so, it is only half the work.
To truly know, we need to know it with our conscious (logical) mind and also with our subconscious (feeling) mind. When we only know it logically, it is only a theory. Once we also know how it feels, then we truly know it. Think of it this way: Fire is hot. If you have never had the experience of coming near it and do not know what it feels like, that statement is only theory. Once you have come near it and you can feel the heat, then you truly know it. I feel this is what life is about. It is a long journey of finding the truth. And we can only find it through experiencing it.
Perhaps your next question would be: How do we learn to truly know what made them do what they did? My answer is that deep down within our spirit we already know. It is our Ego self that is filled with fears such as hatred, anger, guilt or disappointment that hides this truth from us.
Here is an exercise on how you can find this truth easily. This technique is so simple yet so powerful that you would probably wonder why you never thought of it before. You can save years and years of unnecessary unhappiness for yourself and your loved ones by letting go of the pain from your past through doing this exercise now.
Just one note of warning: if you have a heart condition or had a very traumatic experience with this person that you wish to forgive, please do not do this exercise. This is because if the negative feeling in you is too strong, it might trigger a very strong reaction that is not safe for you to do it alone. It would be best for you to go to a therapist who knows what they are doing so they could guide you through it safely.
Make sure you are undisturbed, such as by phone calls etc., while you are doing this so that you can focus your attention on it till the end. You would probably need around half to one hour. Make yourself comfortable by sitting down or lying down in a quiet space.
Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing till you are feeling calm and relaxed. Now imagine the person you feel angry with in front of you. Look at him/her and feel all your feelings. How do you feel towards him/her? Do you now feel the tightness in your body such as stomach, abdomen or chest area? Now express ALL your feelings by talking to him/her.
You can start by saying: I feel … (angry, disappointed, frustrated etc.) with you because … It really hurts when you …
You can make this process faster by taking deep breaths and bringing the tightness that you feel in your body to your throat and blowing it out hard through your mouth. If you feel like crying, allow yourself to cry; it is a wonderful way of releasing. Keep expressing everything you feel and keep blowing the tightness out till it is completely cleared from your body and until there are no more negative feeling towards him/her left in you.
You will then come to a turning point when you reach a state where you will feel sorry or sad for him/her. This is compassion. At this point, it is more than likely that you will already feel that you truly know the truth of what made them do what they did or what made them the way they are. This is the time when you will find that you can truly forgive him/her and you will feel a warm feeling of love in your chest area. If you still cannot forgive him/her, there is usually still an underlying fear in you.
You can express your feelings again by saying: I still cannot forgive you because…. And so on. Or it can also still happen because there is some anger towards yourself. If this is so, you can visualize yourself in front of you and repeat the same exercise as above on yourself. Once you can forgive yourself, you can go back to him/her again and feel how you feel towards him/her now and repeat as necessary.
For as long as you have fear, you will not feel love. As where there is love, there is no fear and vice versa. Once you feel the love, you know there is actually nothing to forgive and that you have freed yourself from this painful past.
With the blessing of love, till next week.
Lydia Wilson is a transpersonal hypnotherapist based in Kerobokan, Bali. If you have a question you would like answered in this column, write to Lydia at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more, go to www.bluelight7.com.