Many define forgiveness as a conscious decision to let go of anger or resentment they are holding for a hurtful act committed against them. When the decision is made to forgive, the forgiver mindfully pardons the perpetrator. It doesn’t mean that the hurtful act is disregarded or that it is even forgotten. The memory is still there but the physical or emotional response one has at the thought of the offense, is removed. The other is still responsible for his hurtful act toward us, just as we are responsible for giving in to the negative reaction at the memory of the violation.
However, if one has forgiven but has not forgotten the injury, just how is it that the “charge” gets eliminated? After all, memory has always equaled charge in the past and just because one has consciously chosen to forgive, does that essentially mean that the charge will never return? Not necessarily because the forgiveness is incomplete.
You have had an emotional reaction to a thoughtless hurt…(I mean thoughtless in the true sense of the word. Some just do not think about what they are saying or doing and can unwittingly offend another)…and it stays with you. So you must forgive on an emotional level as well as a mindful one in order for that forgiveness to be thorough. When you have forgiven mindfully as well as emotionally, your forgiveness is profound and complete.
When you think about it, it’s easy to suggest, “To fully forgive, do so both consciously and emotionally”, but exactly how does one go about that process? People often talk about forgiveness, especially in the therapeutic world, but no one ever really gives you a fail-proof formula for doing so in a significant way. However, I believe there is a missing link in the process of other forgiveness, and that is: Forgiveness of others can never really be significant until one can fully forgive oneself first and experience what it feels like to forgive at a deep level.
Here, I believe, is the conundrum. Firstly, self-forgiveness requires that you recognize that something you did, some part that you took in some personal process of your life, directly hurt you and/or others. Secondly, you must then be able to forgive yourself deeply and completely. This requires in-depth self-examination, a scrutiny which few wish to engage in. However, when you face yourself, when you can look at your reflection in the mirror and admit, “Yes, I did that and because of it (something) happened to change my journey (and that of others)”, then self-forgiveness is possible.
Obviously, we cannot change history. What is done is done. But we can change our perspective on what has happened; by doing so, we can see that although we had choices at the time, we made a negative choice for what appeared to be a positive reason. Remembering that for every negative action there is a positive intent, we can determine what that positive intent is, put it into perspective, decide what you learned from it and move on with self-forgiveness. For example, if there were a time in your life that you smoked, perhaps smoking was an excuse to take occasional breaks from a grueling job, or to socialize with others who also had this habit, or to seem “cool” to your peers, or maybe even it was a way to get others to stay away from you, assuring protection from having to interact. As a wiser more reflective person, once you understand this, you can honor what you were doing at the time, forgive yourself and
move on. You can use this same process to forgive anything you’ve done, wittingly or unwittingly, to hurt yourself.
EFT works well for this, for example, you might affirm,
“Even though I did (this thing) to myself without thinking it would have (these) consequences, I recognize now that I did it (because…) and I can accept and forgive myself and move on”
“Even though I willing involved myself (in events) that hurt me terribly and others as well, I accept me and forgive me because I am a different person now and would never be so careless again.”
Because of your ability to reflect and find deeper meaning and reasoning, once you have forgiven yourself, you also begin to understand that each individual has his own positive intent for acting in a hurtful way. Once you’ve been able to find your reasons for troublesome behavior toward yourself, you also begin to understand what drives others to do as they do. Although each of us is unique as individuals, we share a common bond as human beings, and the similarities we share are part of that common bond. It is these same similarities that allow us to understand each other and to forgive each other for our transgressions, in a conscious as well as emotional way. The next time you experience a hurt from someone, think: What could possibly be going on in his life to cause him to say that/do that/think that way? You will understand because you’ve already been there with yourself.
Carolyn S. Rigiero, CCHT, EFT-adv, Advanced Therapy Services
Carolyn teaches several modules within the HCH's Hypnotherapy Course. Outside of the Hypnotherapy Course, she teaches Deep Hypnosis, as well as EFT and other Meridian Tapping procedures, beginning and advanced. She has a private Hypnotherapy practice in Lafayette and Martinez.