The Struggle of Forgiveness

by Mira T.

The modern understanding of forgiveness suggests that if you forgive a new horizon, lightness and prospect of happiness, without burden and bitterness, will reveal itself. The catch is that the modern man wants to control everything- himself, his life, his being. Because life is dynamic, no one has the time for long suffering. So you drink the "pardon" pill, you heal and the next day you are a new person.

When it comes to how people treat each other (since early childhood) and hurt each other (intentionally and unintentionally) in every possible way, without even considering the damages that they are causing. I think it's not forgiveness that we should be focusing on.

So this article is for those of you, who've been trying to implement the idea of forgiveness in their lives and it didn't work as expected. This article is also for those of you, who've already implemented the idea of forgiveness, but still "have a bad taste in your mouth.''




The struggle

Excessive and burdensome is the pressure at all costs to forgive within yourselves even if only because it is a part of our survival mechanism - to accumulate memories and experiences that make us cautious in our future experiences.

When it comes to 'forgiveness', your feelings towards a person or a situation are triggering a bad emotions within yourself and you are looking for a way out. Dealing with forgiveness is like a weapon of mass destruction. If you don't manage to deal with it, it will destroy you.  The expectations of  the result that you are waiting for are destroying your confidence that you will ever get over it. You've heard that it should make you feel better and as long as this is not happening you feel bad. Moreover, you feel like a bad person for not being able to put it into practice.

You will be pushing yourself over and over again to forgive in order to erase all damaging and harmful feelings and memories. But since we can't erase the past from our memory, it won't work.

What triggers the willingness to forgive someone/something are emotional traumas. No matter if those traumas are related in any way to physical ones. The emotion that you feel in regard to a specific event is giving you a hard time. It is too much to bear. It is too much to feel. It is too much.  You are looking for peace within yourself. Peace is really important for your well being. So forgiveness looks definitely like a resolution. Forgiving someone/something without going through the healing process is like taking a test and giving yourself a grade without even finishing it!

So is it actually forgiveness that we should be looking for?


 Don't focus on forgiveness! Focus on healing!

There are a lot of reasons why someone wants to forgive. What makes you overcome some past events is not focusing on the forgiveness, but on the damage.  The question you should be asking yourself is this- What damage caused me this behavior or action? This is the question that is revealing why you are suffering. You are not suffering because you can't forgive. You are suffering because you've been hurt in some way. By focusing on the damage, you become aware what exactly needs to be healed.

In the process of healing  you learn to live with the harmful consequences of someone's actions and behavior. You are healing the trauma. You learn to pay attention on your feelings and to understand them without judgment.  There is acceptance that whatever bad happened - has happened, nothing can't change that. There is dealing with anger, dealing with resentment, dealing with rejection, struggling with bad memories, asking yourself questions, trying to understand why something happened the way it did, trying sometimes to understand people's motivation to do something.  Sometimes you are trying to find a reasonable explanations for unreasonable action or behavior. So there is no "out of the blue, sitting on a bench, saying- I forgive you" experience.


Add to all of this a big portion of disappointment and maybe now you understand why it is more easy to simply try to forgive, instead of healing your own emotional body.

This is a one-man show. It takes time and self-awareness. So at this point you are dealing with yourself and this is exactly what makes it so hard.

Healing is not about fixing something. Healing is about understanding how what happened affected you. This here is crucial. If you don't acknowledge this, you won't know what to heal. It is a very personal experience through which you become completely aware that the past can't be change and your future depends on how you will be dealing with whatever is left.

Moreover, a lot of people  truly believe that they have been forgiving someone or something just because, for example, enough time has passing and the memories are fading away.  Yet they continue to deal with the emotional trauma that was caused (because it was never healed) without even realizing how they are implementing it in their lives. By the way, this is one of the main reasons why there are so many dysfunctional relationships. People are handing over their dysfunctional relationship with themselves because of unhealed traumas to their relationship with every other human being - friends, parents, children, partners, etc . Bad memories will always fade away a bit because this is the survival mechanism of our brains. No matter that our brains will be doing a great job, your emotional body will use a copy/ paste mechanism to project the unhealed trauma. Always. Only if you are self- aware , you will be able recognize this pattern and focusing on healing it.

I would gladly change the expression: "I forgive you" with "I healed from the damage you`ve done."

"I forgive you" gives the feeling of a fake self-empowerment. The feeling of the better person, the stronger one, who managed to cope with whatever happened and he is ready now to let go of it. Forgiving is often understood as acknowledging why something was done by someone and forgiving this person for what he did. But trying to understand people's motivation for their actions and behavior is not forgiveness. It is just a small part of the healing process.

When you are focusing on healing your emotional body, your emotions change their direction with the time. They are not directed to another person or situation. They are only directed at yourself.  It doesn't mean that you hate someone. That is nothing to do with it. It is a lack of emotional connection to some harmful events. They don't affect your actions and decisions because until then they will.  It means that the connection that you've built with yourself is stronger than the connection between you and the past event.  When this happens, you realize that once you focus on your well-being, on healing, forgiveness is not what you need. There is nothing to forgive. Forgiveness is connecting you to another person and his action or behavior. Healing is a about building a reliable connection with yourself.

People should be asking themselves why they need to forgive. If something is not disturbing your peace of mind, if it is (really) behind your back,  why would you need to forgive within yourself? Do you need a reassurance? Do you need a closure? What exactly you are expecting to achieve through forgiveness?  Answering honestly "Why do I need to forgive within myself?" will lead to the answer of the question "What is left unhealed?"

I can assure you that we heal all of our lives which means we learn. As soon as people become more aware of that, we will start focusing on the right things instead of trying to implement ideas, focusing on resolving issues from outside instead from within.  This is not about spending every second of your life thinking about your traumas. It is about acknowledging them as you would acknowledge every other fact in your life. Then you will be choosing a way to deal with it as you would do with every other fact in your life.

Your emotional body will always give you the signs you need. Your actions, your decisions  are nothing more than an expression of how you feel about yourself.  No matter if you like it or not.  Pay attention to this, because neglecting those signs will bring you back (sooner or later) to where everything has begun.

Healing is about you (your life, your happiness, your future) through the prism of the past.  It is our obligation to use the past in the most effective way.



Who is Mira T?

Mira T. is from Bulgaria, currently living in Berlin.  She writes about society, relationships and everything that makes us who we are. Read more on her blog.

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