Almost daily, at least one client will talk with me about forgiveness. But, what is forgiveness? What does it mean to forgive? According to Merriam-Webster, forgiveness is: “(1 a) to give up resentment of or claim to requital for forgive an insult. (b) to grant relief from payment of forgive a debt. (2) to cease to feel resentment against (an offender): pardon forgive one’s enemies.”
When I listen to people talk about forgiveness, I often hear them trying to re-write history or create a fairytale about a past event that involved physical, mental and/or emotional trauma. I get the impression that they are trying to make it okay that the event happened. Childhood molestation, abuse, rape, murder or other horrors are never okay. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of making a wrongful action acceptable. A wrongful action is not acceptable – it’s not okay that it happened and it never will be okay that it happened. I do not believe that is what forgiveness is about.
I forgive myself for judging myself
To me, the issue is our judgment of the events of the past. There was a time in my life when my father was physically and verbally abusive. As he grew older, he changed. My Dad became a sweet, loving and gentle grandfather and great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Of course, that upset me even more. My thought was, “why couldn’t he be that way with me?”
For many years I could hardly stand to be in the same room with my Dad. The price I paid for that was missing out on a loving relationship with him. I remember one time when in an airport he greeted me with a hug and I practically flew across the room – I reacted as if he was going to hit me.
In 1996, I attended grad school for my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Santa Monica (USM). During that year, I finally realized that the events that happened when I was a small child, were no longer happening. For forty years I had been replaying the memories in my head. Doing so, I experienced all of the same fear, hurt, anger and sadness in those memories as I did during the actual event.
The difference was that my Dad was no longer doing it to me. I was the one abusing myself. My body did not know the difference between what really happened as a young child and the memories I kept replaying. The memories produced the exact same chemical reaction as if it was really happening. I was the one that kept traumatizing myself.
Neurons that fire together
As we know, neurons that fire together, wire together. Every time I played those old thoughts, experienced those old emotions, I fired and reinforced the hardwiring of that old programming. And, just the thought of having a new relationship with my Dad as he changed sent me into withdrawal. I had become addicted to the emotions of fight and flight in my relationship with my Dad.
Living in fear of my Dad, living in anger, hurt and fear had become second nature. It had become part of my personality. It was what I knew. When I tried to let my guard down around him, my body went into withdrawal and created anxiety because I was trying to be different. Ultimately, I would succumb to the fear and the subsequent depression that followed.
Your Hypnosis Health Info Hypnotic Suggestion for today:
I choose to live joyfully in this moment.
At the University of Santa Monica I came to understand that the actions of my father all of those years ago were inexcusable. But today, they only happen in my mind if I allow them to happen. I do have a choice to replay those old scenes in my life or live in this moment. By living mindfully, in this moment, I get to write a new script for my life based on now. I don’t have to be stuck reliving the past.
I don’t have to make my Dad’s behavior years ago okay. It wasn’t. My job is to stop judging it. It was my judgment of his behavior that was killing me. My job is to stop judging myself and stop judging my Dad.
At USM, we were taught to use this format for self-forgiveness. This is a powerful tool that I share with almost all of my clients. I encourage you to use these two sentences to forgive your judgements of yourself and of others.
Judgements of Self
1) I forgive myself for judging myself as __________________.
E.g.: I forgive myself for judging myself as not good enough.
I forgive myself for judging myself as deserving abuse.
I forgive myself for judging myself as unlovable.
Judgements of Others
2) I forgive myself for judging ________ as ___________.
E.g. I forgive myself for judging my Dad as an abuser.
I forgive myself for judging my Dad as not loving me.
I forgive myself for judging my Dad as angry.
Again, my job is to let go of my judgments. What my Dad did was not acceptable. But it isn’t happening today – accept between my own two ears if I were to let it. I have a choice. I can keep killing myself with my judgements or I can live in this moment and create my future to be greater than my past.
Greatest Expression of You
My Greatest Expression of You process is all about letting go of the resentments and judgements. It is about living in this moment creating a happy and joyful future. If I am being my best self and living joyfully in the moment, there is no room to live in the judgements of the past. I can acknowledge it and talk about it without the anger, hurt, fear and sadness. It’s simply part of my life’s story.
My Dad died several years ago at the age of 93. Today, I am more apt to think of the happy times when I was a young boy on the farm. I would ride on the tractor sitting on his lap and he would chew on my ears or when he would take us all roller skating. When I was in first grade, he bought a used bicycle, sanded it down, painted it and gave it to me for Christmas. These are the time I choose to focus on today.
In my June 26, 2016, post, The Greatest Expression of You ~ Writing a New Script, I wrote, “you have ability to write a whole new script based on this moment. You truly can create your future to be greater than your past.” I invite you to read this post and live in the love and joy of now being your best self.
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