Reaching ForgivenessBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
Have you tried to forgive others, only to discover that you are still angry or judgmental toward them?
"How can I forgive my parents when they were so abusive to me when I was growing up?"
"How can I forgive my spouse for cheating on me?"
"How can I forgive my best friend for abandoning me?"
"How can I face and forgive unrepentant abusers and manipulators?"
"How can I forgive myself when others do not forgive me and throw my past in my face every chance they get?"
These are some of the questions about forgiveness many my clients have asked me.
We have all been told that forgiveness is good for the soul, and it is. Yet forgiveness cannot be forced. We cannot will ourselves to forgive, because if we try to deny the anger, blame and judgment that may still be there, it is likely to come out at some point. So how do we reach forgiveness?
Forgiveness toward others is the natural outcome of practicing Inner Bonding.
Practicing Inner Bonding leads to forgiving ourselves and taking loving care of ourselves. When we judge ourselves, we will have a tendency to project that judgment on to others, no matter how much we tell ourselves that we have forgiven them.
Let's start with the first statement, "How can I forgive my parents when they were so abusive to me when I was growing up?" My experience is that as long as you continue to treat yourself in any of the abusive ways your parents treated you, you cannot reach forgiveness. It is your lack of self-love that perpetuates the anger toward others.
As adults, you have a wonderful opportunity to learn to treat yourselfwith the love, respect, caring and understanding that you may have lacked as a child. When you don't do this, the past becomes the present as you continue to abuse yourself in some of the ways you may have been abused, and then continue to blame others for how you end up feeling as a result of your lack of self-love.
Forgiving the People in Your Life Who Have Hurt You
"How can I forgive my spouse for cheating on me?" You will not be able to forgive your spouse until you fully take responsibility for your participation in the relationship issues that may have contributed to the infidelity. There may have been ways you betrayed yourself by not listening to yourself or honoring yourself, that put you in the position of being betrayed by your spouse. As you practice Inner Bonding, looking deeply within and discovering how you might have betrayed yourself and learning to forgive yourself, you may find that you can reach forgiveness for your spouse, even if you end up leaving the relationship.
"How can I forgive my best friend for abandoning me?" The world tends to mirror to us whatever is happening in our own inner system. When you feel abandoned by someone, there is a good possibility that you have abandoned yourself- that you have failed to attend to your own feelings and needs and have failed to be a loving advocate for yourself. Once again, you will discover that if you practice Inner Bonding and learn how to take loving care of yourself, you will find your anger toward others gradually disappearing.
"How can I face and forgive unrepentant abusers and manipulators?" Others' behavior actually has little to do with whether you choose to be judgmental or accepting and forgiving. When you learn to be compassionate rather than judgmental toward the wounded, manipulative side of yourself - your ego wounded self, you will naturally be compassionate toward others' wounded, manipulative behavior. Once again, forgiveness is the natural outgrowth of doing your Inner Bonding work, of moving out of self-judgment and into self-compassion.
"How can I forgive myself when others do not forgive me and throw my past in my face every chance they get?" You will stay stuck in anger and judgment, and in feeling like a victim, as long as you make others responsible for whether or not you forgive yourself. Others' forgiveness has nothing to do with your own decision to judge or forgive yourself.
When you learn to move out of judgment and into compassion - first for yourself and then for others - you will find yourself forgiving yourself and others. Forgiveness is the natural outgrowth of choosing to be compassionate.
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Pain and joy are in the same place in the heart. You cannot put a lid on pain without putting a lid on your joy as well. Are you opting for the flatness of the illusion of safety, or are you willing to experience both the lows and the highs of life? Today, cry and laugh with your whole heart.
By Dr. Margaret Paul