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The Issue of Forgiveness

This lesson is a part of an audio course Seeking Authenticity by Stephen Paul King

“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change – truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” —Salman Rushdie

The issue of forgiveness is paramount with regard to one’s ability to be in a state of grace, to be in the now, and to not having negative energy accompanying you wherever you go – impacting almost all decisions and potentials and truly blocking or masking authenticity.

Using the acronym SAGE to represent Sensitive And Sensible with Age, we can look to the wisdom of the sages throughout the ages and see the myriad of references to this very important and essential step – which is perhaps the most difficult for some to wrap their head around or to even have a willingness to consider, let alone to consciously permit and commit oneself to.

The meaning of the word forgiveness is “to let go”. It is NOT about the perpetrator of any harm deserving to be forgiven or released from any guilt. This is the false premise that leaves many trapped in turmoil and bitterness.

On the contrary, it is forgiveness that actually gives you your future back! It’s a way that you are willing to let go of the pain that the perpetrator’s words or actions brought to you.

We know that the body does not thrive in chaos but in harmony, self-esteem, endurance, and integrity.

We have already brought up the need to be responsive rather than reactive. This being part of the discovery of cycles such as recover or repeat, fight, flight or freeze, repress or obsess, resist or persist. Holding on to hate, rage or a state of unforgiveness is like having a heavy cloud of acid rain dripping onto your spirit and eating away vitality.

In biblical terms, forgiveness is the loving, voluntary cancellation of a debt. It is the extending of grace and something you can do for both others and for yourself.

Notice the word “give” in “forgive.” When you forgive, you give someone a gift − you waive a penalty − and you give yourself the gift of grudge-free living

Forgiveness is “a willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly injured us while fostering the undeserved quality of compassion, generosity, and love toward him or her.”

Forgiveness transforms the person who was wronged from victim to victor through the voluntary act of replacing resentment with compassion.

Depression is often present as a result of feelings of anger, helplessness, and hopelessness – it creates a dark, blank, screen in the mind, a heaviness, and an inability to “see” a meaningful future.

It sounds and appears too simple and uncaring to just say stop living with the problem and start living with the answer. However, as in all areas of life, if we look to the wise ways of the sages and the elders – this is the necessary path to being able to pursue a fulfilling life and being present for the Self and others.

The acronym AGE stands for Abuse Imprisons, Grief releases and Expression heals. So forgiveness is not about holding on to your feelings but expressing them in a safe manner – to release and thereby slowly return to a new way of seeing – a new definition of self.

Remember that in a state of deep hurt we may feel lost and unable to attend to proper self-care, but through forgiveness and fidelity to oneself, including absorption, adjustment, acceptance, and adaptation we can slowly reclaim our physical, mental and spiritual integrity.

The states of fear and faith cannot co-exist at the same time, though our awareness and observation of these conflicting states can make us can leave us on the cusp of same and hopefully able to choose to step into the courage that forgiveness may often take (courage is not the absence of fear but doing something despite the fear).

In the context of the above, the acronym FEAR can thereby stand for Forgive Everything Around Resentments, and faith can be viewed as living with an invisible means of support and as has been stated, Sometimes the only thing left to hang on to is letting go.

The major human emotions are fear, anger, grief, jealousy, and love. Given this, it is not to suggest that our feelings are not valid but storing them will eat us up and take away potentialities, making us passengers of life, whereas expressing them and choosing to let go is giving you back your life and allowing you to get back into the driver’s seat.

It has been said that religion is for people trying to avoid hell and that spirituality is for people who have been there. If we are seeking spiritual peace, harmony, tranquility, and calm, then we need to let go of thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that are toxic/poisonous to our spirit.

Our experiences should let us know that those who anger us control us and that our personal “karma” is basically the hard-wired propensities that emanate from our attitudes. Hence the statement “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.”

You do not have to be loyal to your suffering – you do not need to let it define you. The act of acceptance allows the individual to transcend the suffering self and, as previously mentioned, suffering is inevitable as part of leading an authentic life. Suffering is by no means something we need to desire or welcome but it does provide a means to meaning.

It is said that happiness is an inside job and that the solution to living in an existential vacuum and human suffering is caring for others. The suffering self can find transcendence only through caring for others. Love allows the individual to transcend his/her fearful, self-conscious Self.

We recognize that going down a path approved by society but which is personally unsatisfying only leads to an unauthentic life and neurotic anxiety, anger, depression, or addiction. Pain is said to be the touchstone of all spiritual growth and progress.

The duty to navigate through life rests with the individual and that means the choice of one’s attitude is probably the essential feature of recovery.

Once we have acknowledged the gift and acceptance of being the author of our own lives, we can determine what works for us and what doesn’t, we can recognize that we are cordially invited to change our minds, our beliefs, interpretations, perceptions and thereby our operating system.

Let’s look at what forgiveness does or does not do – the roles it plays.

  • Forgiveness can allow shame to shrivel and dry up.
  • Forgiveness is about letting go of another person’s throat.
  • It releases you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.
  • There is more power in love and forgiveness than in hate.
  • Forgiveness does not create relationships.
  • It stops allowing someone to have any more “free rent” inside you.
  • When you forgive, you refuse to be further damaged by the wrongdoing of others.
  • If you hang on to resentment, you are harboring a thief in your heart.
  • The poison of bitterness becomes like a parasite that eats you away from the inside
  • It is like hiring a poisoner to cook your meals.
  • The best revenge is to lead a healthy life.
  • The person who has wronged you has not earned the right to take up any more of your time and energy or life force.
  • Forgiveness is the most powerful and absolute prerequisite mental shift necessary to empowering our potential.
  • When we are willing to forgive, we are guaranteed a life of peace, gratitude, wisdom, expansion, and growth.
  • Each time we beat ourselves up for the past, for mistakes or bad choices that we have made, we stay trapped in a shell of toxic shame and self-abuse. Just like in the golden rule – we must also work on self-forgiveness!
  • Our righteous attitude keeps us locked up in our own misery. We find a sick kind of comfort in this.
  • Our resentments hold onto us like a ball and chain, keeping us prisoner to or anger and to the person that we are so angry toward. We think we will show them by continuing to make them suffer, but we are the ones who are truly suffering!
  • There is a major correlation between forgiveness and recovery as one of its more powerful effects is to overcome anger, blaming, and hostility, all of which are known to trigger use.
  • The power of forgiveness does not require that we agree with, condone or tolerate abuse or bad behavior. We forgive the sinner, not the sin.
  • To forgive is to give for ourselves the freedom from this condition.
  • Forgiveness can allow shame to shrivel and dry up.
  • Forgiveness is the taking back of one’s own life, choices, and direction.
  • The immediate pleasure of sweet revenge is only temporary.
  • Forgiveness is the opposite of resentment.
  • Forgiveness can move us from tragedy to transcendence.
  • Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.

To be open to the full palace of possibilities and to be fully in the quantum of the beneficence of both absorbing and transferring positive energies, we must forgive both others and forgive ourselves – but must not be lazy – as recovery does take work.

To help with self-forgiveness one can use an energy medicine technique such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to be able to “forgive oneself for not being able to forgive.”

One acronym for APATHY could be – A Perfect Ass That Hinders You. Action and maintenance are required to prevent apathy from stepping in and sabotaging.

Humanness is a matter of what inspires us, it is the stories that touch us, the exploits and expressions of the same that excite us, and the adventures, challenges, and experiences that motivate us. Having a passion that moves us to do better and, along with it, the joy and awe that provides the internal drive.

The first step in overcoming suffering is to accept reality. Drunkenness or substance and process self-abuse merely drown the Self.

We can seek what Viktor Frankl termed “tragic optimism” – finding some meaning in the worst possible circumstances. The healthy person affirms even the harshest suffering provided they see a reason for it.

It is the acceptance of reality and some form of faith that is the defining characteristic of “tragic optimism”.

It is, after all, a feeling that imparts vitality to thought. This “elan vitale” is our life force, our vitality, and vibrancy – and existence without vitality can create a meaningless, monotonous, and boring life.

The addict tends to substitute living intensely for living meaningfully and will always tend towards instant rather than delayed gratification. Others may be all flash and short on real substance. This is often a result of past trauma and isolation. Finding resolution to the same and developing a sense of purpose (the purpose of life is to have a life of purpose) helps us to recognize that life is worth living in spite of suffering – bear in mind the healthy re-frame, “Have a good day if you choose to.”

The choice is about deciding to respond (rather than react) to pressure or choosing to let it go and replacing it with something more powerful. Choice puts you back in the driver’s seat.

If we do not choose to seek resolution or move on then we might need to ask ourselves about what good things do we get from subconsciously needing to revisit the chaos? Could it be that we are choosing to remain a stubborn victim of our circumstances rather than being a tenacious survivor?

After all, a lack of control is not freedom!

We can change the past by changing the way we think and talk about it, as using your issues as an excuse will make your whole life an excuse.

Change your way of seeing things and you will modify their reality and effect on your existence.

Our beliefs, perceptions, and interpretations can either contaminate or illuminate!

“Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.” —Itszak Perhlman

That is a great metaphor for where we are and where we can be NOW! Focus on what works – let go of what doesn’t. Live according to our own wisdom, knowledge, experience, and the lessons and wisdom of the sages.

The only way to keep from going backward is to keep going forward. You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; and third, the faith to do – to take action steps.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.” —Socrates

The Law of Attraction is another name for love. The law of love is the creative force behind every manifestation.

Being in good spirits releases dopamine (as does drinking spirits). Being spiritual is the state of feeling loved and attached and it is the vibration/emotion of love that releases dopamine! The issue for some, therefore, is the striving for an “artificial” spirit.

Whatever we think about and thank about we can often bring about. Opportunity follows perception, action follows inspiration, growth follows knowledge and eminence follows progress.

If we wish for a change in conditions – all that is necessary is to change our thought. This will in turn change our mental attitude, which will, in turn, change our personality, which will, in turn, change the persons, things, and conditions – the experiences – with which we meet in life.

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Written by

Stephen Paul King

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