Unforgiveness is one of the biggest blocks to freedom. Particularly as we age. To become a wise and joyful Elder, we need to come to grips with this important aspect of our lives.
Right from when we are born, we experience hurt and damage to our body, spirit and mind, mostly from the circumstances and other people in our lives.This may be bullying, misconceived parenting, religion, cultural ideas, peers, siblings, friends and even from those who love us.
No one cannot go through life without damaging experiences, and many of us carry these experiences throughout life. Even bad experiences later in life, can do untold damage.
For many years the Fruedian idea of how damage being done to us, is the cause of who we become, and that there is no turning back. This has been the basis of Therapy, the cause of illness, and spending immeasurable amounts of time and money on our “Inner child”. Particularly the “hurt inner child”.
Whilst this can happen, there never seems to be an answer to the question of “How can I change it!” Cognitive behaviour therapy, (CBT) has been successful in some cases, and is the most popular way of getting over hurts and behaviour, but this is only touching the surface, or the “outer” person.
To really get over things and make changes, there needs to be more work done by the individual themselves and this is why life coaching is becoming a powerful tool. Life coaching is the tool used by people when they want to move on, once they get over a major life change, such as losing a job, bereavement, divorce, retirement, and often when people just feel “stuck” and don’t know where to go next.
In most cases the reason why people cannot move on is that they are not taught how to forgive or what it really means, and that forgiveness can be the first step to moving on with their lives. In the case of ageing, it certainly needs to be dealt with if we are not going to carry bitterness and resentment into our vulnerable older years.
Have you ever thought that you need to forgive yourself?
You could be surprised at how much resentment you are carrying around towards yourself. At the bottom of this anger and resentment you could be carrying unforgiveness around just for being human!
Everyone makes errors or judgment, being unkind, saying hurtful things, playing jokes on others at school, telling lies and so on. These human errors are almost impossible to keep a record of.
It may be something that you did that was quite a major incident in your life and had disastrous, life changing effects on yourself or others.
You could be carrying this around and it is affecting everything you do in the present time.
It is just the same as resentment and unforgiveness to others.
When you did your Life Review from my post “Expectations and Consciousness in Ageing”, you may have uncovered stuff about hurts and pain. You may also have something that happened in the past that you talk a lot about, or that you think a lot about. That one will be obvious.
In any case, sit quietly or go for a walk on your own and think about what you would like to be “rid of” with memories and overuling resentments. Would you really like to be free of these?
Let’s look at what forgiveness really is!
Forgiveness is misconstrued in our society and beliefs. It certainly was for me, until I learnt one important componant that made it easier for me.
The following quotes are extracts from “The Art and Science of Forgiveness” by Frederick Luskin, PhD and featured in a book called Consciousness and Healing.
“Forgiveness in no way means you have to reconcile with someone who treated you badly. I see this confusion over and over in the work that I do. For example, if you were the recipient of childhood abuse, or are in a harsh relationship, you can forgive the offender and, as part of that choice, make the decision to end or limit contact. Forgiveness is primarily for creating your peace of mind. It is to create healing in your life and return you to a state in which you can live and be capable again of trust and love.”
He goes on to say;
” Another misconception is that it depends on whether or not the abuser or lying person apologizes, wants you back, or changes his or her ways. If another person’s poor behaviour was the primary determinent for your healing, then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. In another vein, you can forgive your ex-spouse for his or her insulting speech and even abandoning you or your children, but forgiveness in no way means you do not take your ex to court to make sure your children get the support payments to which you are entitled. Forgiveness and justice are not the same! You can seek justice with an open heart as well as a bitter one.”
In other words you can forgive without condoning the behaviour that hurt you.
” Lastly, forgiveness does not mean that we forget what happened to us in our urge to move forward and get on with our lives. It is ludicrous to expect anyone who has been badly hurt not to remember the wound.”
Luskin does not suggest that you dwell on your greivances. Jesus said that we need to forgive not just 7 times, but 70 times 70.
This simply means that everytime you remember the hurt, just say to yourself that you have forgiven.
I found this information a liberating and life changing experience. Like other people I have had some major hurts in my life and spent many years believing that I could not forgive the people who hurt me, because that would mean that I had to forget and reconcile, and write to the person to tell them that I had forgiven.
But then I realised that it was inner work that I needed to do and as long as I held unforgiveness, I was also holding onto the hurt. I learnt that letting go of the hurt did not mean I needed to put it in the past and forget about it.
Now I simpy do as Luskin and many others suggest, I simply forgive the person over again.
In the next blog we will look at HOW TO FORGIVE. This is something that is not talked a lot about. It can also be a stumbling block, so make sure that you “tune in” again to the next one on Forgiveness and Ageing.