When we have turned against ourselves or another person, forgiveness can seem impossible. We’re so used to re-playing the story of blame, that living with a tight heart can become our most familiar way of being.
Yet we want to forgive, because we understand that not forgiving hardens and imprisons our heart. As long as we are filled with resentment or hate, we’re chained to the sufferings of the past and cannot find genuine peace.
We can’t simply will ourselves into forgiving; but we can be willing. This is why the intention to forgive is such a key element in the process. To be willing to forgive – even if not yet quite ready – allows the door open a crack, and light inevitably pours in.
We might worry that forgiving somehow equals condoning harmful behavior, or permitting it to continue. When we forgive, we’re not saying, ok, I guess I’ll just let them keep treating me in harmful ways. We can forgive and create every boundary we need to take care of ourselves and others. Nor are we “denying responsibility” when we forgive ourselves.
While blame and punishment might temporarily interrupt a pattern of behavior, they do not create the grounds for deepened understanding, compassion and transformation. Only when we include ourselves and others in our heart do we serve a path of true healing, connection and freedom.
- Why we hang on so tightly to hatred and blame
- Why holding a grudge is a kind of developmental arrest – and a losing strategy
- How to persevere in working with deeply-ingrained habits of blaming
- What lies underneath the “armor” of judging
- How to meet wounds and vulnerability with mindfulness and self-compassion
- We can forgive and still maintain boundaries needed to prevent future harm
- Real healing and freedom become possible by releasing hatred and resentment