Forgiveness is great ideas

On my 30th birthday, I received the gift that every girl dreams of, well ok maybe not every girl, maybe just this girl and a few others I know. It arrived on that unusually sunny February morning in England, gift wrapped in an airmail envelope. I must have sensed at some level that its contents were of a rare and mystical quality, because I opened it as if in possession of the holy grail itself. Inside the envelope, shimmering in all of its golden, legal pad glory, was an agenda free letter of amends from my ex-boyfriend, containing 2 A4 sides of pure, unadulterated accountability for his part in the demise of our relationship. It was poetry, and it made me feel good for exactly half an hour.

It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that this man subsequently met his soulmate and is now happily married to her. He had done his work and was cleaning house from a place of genuine remorse, free from inappropriate shame, but without even a whisper of justification. I could feel his heart on the page. And it is for that same reason I believe, that my emotional high that morning lasted for a mere 30 minutes, because my house was still cluttered with ungrieved loss, unresolved wounds and the absence of any real clarity or accountability for my own part in what had happened between us. It took another 3 and half years for me to return the favour, and I’m sure even then, I came nowhere close to doing justice to the letter I’d received. The sense of liberation that I felt however, in writing those lines of heartfelt remorse, was a lesson I have subsequently carried with me like a treasure. The lesson that any unresolved pain I carry in my heart can never be liberated by another human being. Even if the scenario in question is a place where my role was entirely that of being a powerless victim. Recognition, accountability, and even an apology from the so called offender in question will never set me free. Because forigveness doesn’t come as a result of my offender’s awakening, but only as a result of my own.

A couple of years ago, my understanding of why and how forgiveness works in this way deepened, when a dear friend turned me onto a life changing book called Radical Forgiveness. Overnight my perception of everything transformed from 3 to 4 dimensional. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone in the clutches of unresolved hurts or a painfully insistent cycle of being or perceiving themselves as being victimized or persecuted. But in the meantime, here’s a blundering attempt at the premise. In a nutshell, the author proposes that everything is happening for us, not to us. The book suggests that our souls have made agreements with one other to act out what we need to experience in order for us to evolve into our whole, actualised selves. So when your boss routinely passes you over for that promotion, you have, according to Radical Forgiveness, at some level agreed that they would do this for you, so that you would learn something about your role in this reoccuring pattern. Maybe you need to learn to value yourself more, to speak up or to risk leaving for a new job elsewhere that is a better match for your skills. Or perhaps you are learning that climbing the career ladder is not a reflection of your worth, or a match for the emptiness you feel. Or maybe you have somebody in your life who repeatedly through word or deed implies that you are worthless, of low value, unloveable, not good enough, in someway faulty or wrong etc. Through the lens of this same premise, they are consistently offering you the opportunity to begin, in word and deed, to refute those implications, and to out-grow and heal the origins of those beliefs.

I cannot tell you how many times the following scenario has happened to/for me. I have an unconscious belief that is making my life miserable and blocking me from receiving or feeling joy, abundance, love, or any of the good stuff. And I know that I don’t have the good stuff, but I’m not conscious of the belief that is blocking it or creating the circumstances I’m feeling stuck in. So, as if by magic, a character shows up my life (when the student is ready, the teacher appears), and starts speaking, and or acting out my shadow beliefs, and they do it with complete and utter impunity. Usually I either fall in love with them or I can’t stand them or a little of both depending on the severity of the belief. But always, at some point, they become intolerable to me, because in truth what is happening is that they are making my own dysfunctional beliefs conscious, and they are giving me the opportunity to start rejecting them. But first, and I think this is true of most of us, I reject the person or the situation that is bringing the consciousness alive for me, because I don’t want to own that I’m carrying it and that I feel powerless to change. So here’s a better idea (I think), either they should change, or shut up or go away. But that never works. Because if they do, like clockwork, a new character shows up with the exact same script. Or I keep running the script that the character I amputated was running, round and around in my mind. And on it goes until I, myself, become clear around the beliefs that are no longer serving me.