What does it mean to forgive? We hear all the time it is God like to forgive. So many of my patients talk about “just needing to forgive and let things be.” Many talk about forgiveness as taking the higher ground and moving on. We feel almost noble as, “we forgive those who trespass against us.”

It is my contention that doing what we “should do” or what is “right” is just another form of denial. If we believe we can move on by simply saying the word and thus our being is free to let go is being naive. In actuality, this is just another form of suppression. I am not saying that forgiveness is not important and  in actuality essential. To keep, as a patient of mine said, “living with the hate or toxicity of a grudge hurts you more than the person  you are not wanting to forgive. On this I agree.  Hating someone is like drinking poison and hoping they die. It is incorrect. Additionally, it is toxic for anyone to hold onto  pain and believe you are taking care of yourself, while leaving the other person in some kind of purgatory of unresolved issues. The only thing this brings about is dis-ease.

Therefore, a healthy working through this situation is the way to let go while not denying what has occurred. How does one do that? I teach that you first must truly understand the impact on your self esteem and even your soul. Not to get passed it. Not to let it go because the person who hurt you doesn’t care or would never be accountable for what happened. One must work through the pain and impact that the hurt perpetrated in yourself. To look deeply into the extent of what you are carrying around and then work to understand the trigger that this other person ignited in you. And then to heal the wound left by the act itself. As Elenore Roosevelt said,’ No one has power over us we do not give permission to.’ Now this permission is usually unconscious, but none the less for some reason we’ve allowed this person in close enough to harm us. Therefore, we need to do our self reflective work to understand and heal not only the overt hurt, but that part of us that would give someone else this kind of power.

Once we do this, we find our center, our self, and heal. From this perspective, we see the wound in the other and the horrible way they defend themselves from their own wounding. From our own empowered, enhanced strength and understanding of self , we can forgive them for being so damaged. And as Jesus said, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do. And then move on from them, free of the toxicity.


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