My greatest teacher has been my mother.
Throughout most of my life I believed she was the cause of my pain and so I created defences to keep her out of my heart. It is only when I gathered the resolve to strip myself of my story of victimhood that I saw she was my best teacher in disguise.
This recognition has given me the power to make new choices in the way that I relate to her based on gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. I went from hating her and fighting with her every time I saw her; to accepting her and actually experiencing a new level of harmony and appreciation.
True forgiveness, more than any other energy has allowed me to feel the gifts of deep shadow work – the gold that is hidden in the dark. I realise that all the shadow work that I’ve committed to, is really to get to the place where I can forgive myself and forgive others. For more on this see our blog “Shadows“.
Forgiveness is seeing the true heart of a soul beyond blame and story. It is the hallway between the past and the future, paving a sacred space where we can break free from the prison of the mind and be fully present. As I forgive, I embrace what I have judged, and I reclaim my light.
I have such deep gratitude for all the shadows – mine and the shadows in others. More than any other “work,” shadow work is what has enabled me to show up as a full expression of Life and Love.
Sexual abuse + feeling overpowered by my mother + feeling abandoned by my father + suffering from a broken heart = seeking answers = Teacher and Writer.
I give thanks for it all. I give thanks for the difficulties. I give thanks for my teachers in disguise. It has led me to feeling the power of forgiveness and the power of freeing myself from victimhood.
In today’s blog, I explore the idea of forgiveness and next week I will share a simple meditation on forgiveness that you can use to set free any pain from the past you may be holding onto, and as a way to feel the power of your heart to bring lightness, healing and gratitude into your life.
The choice to meet pain consciously, and then to open wider than this pain, is the key to authentic forgiveness.
We often have an idea that forgiveness as something we do, perhaps a kind gesture, or the writing a letter of forgiveness to someone whose actions caused pain orto everyone whosoever hurt us, but the action is really an inner one. The other person does not even need to know – they will feel it.
Sometimes, we can really believe we’re choosing to meet pain consciously. We are still a victim. This is when we are in the grip of an uncomfortable emotion. We feel it intensely and yet it doesn’t dissolve: the pain is like a rock, it just stays there.
This is because there is a subtle refusal to let go of the victim story. Freedom is available when we choose to open wider than the suffering, but to do so is to be willing for the victim to die. As much as we may say that we don’t want to be the victim any longer, the death of the victim is synonymous with the death of the self because the victim shadows the very nucleus of identifying with the self as a separate entity.
The question to be faced here is, “Who would I be without the victim?” This question takes you deeper into the core of being where real peace is found, but only if you are willing to release the egoic self-protective mechanisms that keep you separate.
To discover who you are without the victim-story reveals the power of forgiveness: forgiveness of self, forgiveness of other, forgiveness of the world, forgiveness of your parents, even forgiveness of God. Without the victim, you can be in the here and now, rather than trapped in the past – there is nothing to fight, prove, resist or defend.
Forgiveness does not condone the hurtful acts of others or mean that you let others walk all over you. It just allows you to let go of blame, resentment and revenge which create so much contraction and suffering in your heart. Forgiveness recognises that the greatest power is found in acknowledging the pain, transmuting it, sublimating it and then MOVING ON – letting go of the past. Its over now. Forgiveness does not excuse poor behaviour, but it can make whole that tender place in your heart which felt torn and broken. The power of forgiveness lies in the return to love.
If you have a strong un-forgiven charge around someone in your life, try to remember love instead of using it to fuel your victim. Consider their actions a teaching, a type of poison which can be alchemised into medicine – just as the Hindu Deity ‘Shiva’ holds poison in his throat and alchemises it into nectar. The darkest most bitter medicine is often the most potent. For example, if you have been betrayed by someone or abused by someone and you are holding un-forgiveness, you may attract situations triggering more of the same in your life until you receive the medicine of the unforgiven – and the unforgiven becomes forgivable.
At the end of our life we meet two aspects of the one person (i) the aspect we loved the most and (ii) the aspect that hurt us the most. The first says “I choose to play that role in the story of your life because I love you so much and offer you a reflection of your Divinity”. The second says “I choose to play that role in the story of your life because I love you so much and offer you a reflection of your Humanity.” Everyone was who they were so we could be who we are. This is called dis-identification as we are no longer associating the personality with the truth – our own or others’.
We are not ready and able to undergo a process of dis-identification, cultivating the capacity to see beyond the personality and forgive, until we know how stop taking things personally and until we can be grateful for the lessons.
Unless we know how to dig deep and be grateful for even those experiences that have been very challenging, instead of focusing on how we perceive things should have been, we are stuck in the illusion of separation.
One way to stop taking things personally and practice forgiveness and gratitude is with an awareness of the bigger picture. This is like the popular spiritual bumper stickers that say “The only person who can hurt you is yourself” or similar. A step beyond this which acknowledges that pain activated in our nervous system is often triggering the unconscious: a)to commit to shadow work; and b) to practice forgiveness. Forgiveness of others and forgiveness of ourselves.
When we forgive ourselves, we also need to forgive the part of us that wanted any part of our life to be any other way than what it was.