There are some things our thinking mind knows it would probably be a good idea to forgive: the betrayal by a former partner, the indiscretion of a close friend, the casual cruelty of a stranger. We may decide not to forgive, but at least we are aware of that choice. Indeed a whole industry is appearing around the issue of forgiveness. Google, and you will discover all manner of wisdom to guide you. The shelves at Amazon are groaning under the weight of publications on the subject and Facebook is replete with artistic forgiveness posts. I am sure I have generated some myself.
That is all well and good (and I really do mean that: it is good to forgive and it is good to find the way to do so that suits you best). However, what intrigues me more is the need for forgiveness that we do not even realise we have and yet is essential if we are to enjoy well being. This includes not only the need to forgive another but to forgive our own self or to have another forgive us.
I experienced this myself, and was completely taken aback by it. My father passed away when I was fourteen. Needless to say this is something which I have processed and cleared over the years. Or least I thought I had cleared it.
For many years mum has kept a framed black and white photograph of dad on a side cabinet in her dining room. I see it often and yet one day I noticed that, as I caught sight of the photograph, I felt really annoyed and upset with dad. Hmm, I thought, what on the heck is that about!
In my investigations into self I discovered vestiges of anger at him for leaving us. Of course, my rational adult mind knows that was not what he chose when he went to sleep one night and did not wake up the next morning. However, it was evident that some part of me had still not forgiven him. When I tuned into what this was, I unearthed anger, and forgiveness was the salve. I have noticed that since satisfying my need to forgive him, the photograph no longer triggers me.
I encounter this deeply buried need for forgiveness regularly in client sessions, often in unexpected places. This, after all, is not a rational need for forgiveness. If it were, we would likely be able to bring it to mind and address it. Often it is in the company of anger, and frequently initially in the guise of sorrow. Usually the related circumstances are ones where, for whatever reason, we have not been able to speak our truth and/or feel our emotions fully in the moment. Instead, we bury those emotions deep in our tissues to silence them. Except they are never silenced; they are simply put into abeyance, until an opening arises for more full expression. If we are lucky, that full expression might be through a therapy process, protocol or prayer. More often, it is through the expression of dis-ease in our physical being. We can hide nothing from our energetic self; sooner or later our hidden truths are re-presented in material form, for another opportunity to address them.
So, in my case, as a fourteen year old, I witnessed my father’s passing, grieved for him and mourned him with others who loved him. However, that was not the whole story: when I tracked my need to forgive him, it was not only about my experience at fourteen, it was about how he had already left me once before as a toddler when he came to the UK. My grief as a three year old was huge and buried in my energy pattern; at fourteen I got to rehearse it all over again and even more painfully. It is irrelevant that I did not understand those overwhelming emotions of loss, grief and anger, and essential that I clear them.
Interestingly, it was only after that clearing that my mother casually mentioned one day how as a three year old I would lay my head against the car my father had let behind and cry for him, calling out to him. She had never mentioned that before. It made me wonder if my own release had freed her to speak for the first time of the pain she had witnessed in her child.
I see patterns such as this time and time again: the man whose father used to beat his mother and blames himself for not protecting her even though he was pre-school age at the time; the woman who drinks to numb the pain of sexual abuse and at some level blames her mother for what happened; the one who left his homeland sixty years ago to seek his fortune and all this time has carried guilt at leaving behind his widowed mother. There is often a tangle of emotions – anger, guilt, fear, to name some, but the solution is invariably the same: forgiveness.
This forgiveness is not some nice-to-have at an intellectual level or something that a religion would tell us to bestow upon another. It is an essential and powerful tool for progressing beyond survival, freed from invisible ties to our pain, to live the expansive, creative, joyous life for which we are created.
The good news is that we do not need to wait until we are sick and afraid, we can choose to free ourselves at any time. When we address this need for forgiveness, the breakthrough is liberating. I believe it is often the reason why clients experience a new and subtle ease and quiet joy in their being. The relief is huge when we are set free from the burden we have carried unwittingly and with this relief comes renewed energy and lightness of being. In our outward world it may look as if nothing has changed, yet in reality everything changes; it has to, our whole vibration shifts and so do we.