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On Forgiveness

We are seldom quick to forgive others when we haven’t yet forgiven ourselves...

Forgiveness is a beautifully transformative practice. It asks us to name the unnamed in our lives and bring oxygen and light to the shadows of our actions, words, or choices gone awry.

Forgiveness is merciful courage in practice.

Forgiveness is often discussed in relationship to another. Yet I’ve found we are seldom quick to forgive others when we haven’t yet forgiven ourselves.

WHAT HAVEN’T YOU FORGIVEN YOURSELF FOR, FRIEND?

What patterns are on repeat in your life because original healing hasn’t yet taken place? Where and to whom do you seek to make amends? Begin with yourself, friend.

Forgive yourself—wholly and completely. Name every piece of the story you’re holding back.

Allow each stone of your story, each shadow, to be named.

No matter how long ago, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Then begin to make amends with yourself.

From there, you can make amends with those you love from your whole heart rather than from a fragmented piece of it. 

MY OWN PRACTICE

In the past year, I have been hanging out extensively with forgiveness. Learning to forgive myself for my missteps, miscommunications, and choices. Forgiving myself for the sharp twists and turns of life, health, and relationships too. Forgiving myself for immense loss and my part in its creation.

It is often said that forgiveness occurs with time. While I believe this is true, it matters how we spend that time. If we just numb the pain, we push the darkness further down within us. If we try to fill the void rather than feel the void, we do the same. Anything we bury or mask doesn’t disappear; it just settles into the marrow of our lives until we’re ready to look it in the eye.

Simply put, this popular human practice of trying to hot-wire our healing simply plants it further within us, creating roots to grow into the new experiences, relationships, and choices in our lives. And then clarity gets more and more confusing too.

FORGIVENESS & HEALING REQUIRES THE INTENTIONAL AND COURAGEOUS INTEGRATION OF BOTH THE LIGHT AND DARK WITHIN US.

If you don’t even know where to begin, here’s a piece of my own forgiveness practice you are welcome to borrow as you cultivate your own.

THE FORGIVENESS PRACTICE

  1. I forgive myself for what I didn’t know before.
  2. I forgive myself for what I didn’t do and say then.
  3. I forgive myself for not showing up for myself or for others.
  4. I forgive myself for holding myself hostage in the closet of my shame.
  5. I forgive myself for staying silent because I didn’t know what to even say.
  6. I forgive myself for shaming my body when it is doing the best it can.
  7. I forgive myself for resisting what is real simply because I wanted it to be different.
  8. I forgive myself for numbing my emotions instead of naming them.
  9. I forgive myself for being frustrated with others simply because they didn’t respect a boundary I hadn’t even established with them.
  10. I forgive myself for choosing my own self-interests rather than what is best for all.
  11. I forgive myself for choosing comfort over courage again and again.
  12. I forgive myself for not being honest with myself.

THE RELEASING PRACTICE

Some people choose to forgive and release solely within their mind.

I personally have found this approach to be far less sustaining than when we actually speak our forgiveness aloud and excavate these thoughts from our mind.

Here are six powerful ways to put your forgiveness practice into motion:

  1. Journal your forgiveness, speaking the words aloud as you write it down.
  2. Take a walk in nature and name your forgiveness aloud to the trees around you.
  3. Visit the beach or shore, releasing stones for each forgiveness into the water.
  4. Pray quietly at your local church or temple — alone or with a confidante.
  5. Share aloud with a trusted friend, confidante, counselor, or coach.
  6. Voice your inner ramblings aloud to your cell phone recording app while driving alone..

Commonly referred to with clients as the practice purge here at TCP, this practice of releasing our inner thoughts is a powerful step in self-forgiveness and a core piece of the practice of shadow integration famously coined by Carl Jung many, many moons ago.

Whenever we purge pieces of our story within us that have yet to be given a name, we release their energetic grip upon us. Shadow integration is a powerful practice of self-forgiveness and as such, all life coaching clients here at TCP receive personalized shadow integration development as part of their coaching experience.

My fabulous spiritual mentors and sisters within The Woo Collective describe this purging process as an ego vomit (#egovomit is brilliant, right?) because of its ability to bring to the surface all the fears and shadows the ego uses to try to keep us safe and small.

HERE IS WHAT I KNOW TO BE TRUE.

We are all messy, beautiful humans doing the best we can but sometimes we don’t get it right. We mess up. We fail. We f*ck up. (You pick the language that suits you.) We hurt each other. We hurt ourselves. Yet when we choose the practice of self-forgiveness, we are more open to forgive others too. When we feel resistant to forgiving another, we are asked to consider what aspect of their story is a reflection to us of our own.

Humans can do deeply grievous things, yes. Yet holding resentment and choosing not to forgive others literally weighs us down. We may never forget but we can always forgive. When we do, we release the grip this piece of our story holds upon us. And when we forgive ourselves, we step further into self-love and courageous living.

When we seek forgiveness, we must begin within.

From my own messy, beautiful practice to yours,

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