Forgiveness is a complex topic. A large part of enabling the skill of forgiveness is choosing to live in peace by not needing things from others emotionally or in actuality as far as personal independence. Working towards not living in anger or frustration when we are having difficulty forgiving is a part of the process. How do we handle this dichotomy and the role of tension emotions play which hold us back from forgiveness? The skill of forgiveness may be more important to us socially than we realize. Findings from a study conducted by the Fetzer Institute reveal that most Americans feel the need to show more forgiveness in their personal lives and worldwide.
In my experience there is a fine line when trying to manage my capacity for forgiveness. I have also consequently held friends to low standards for the quality of our interactions. Even recently I had an acquaintance tell me I needed to get better friends. How do we decide when we just plain deserve better? Forgiveness can either be accompanied by the continuation of a situation or the end. As an adult friendships can be difficult to come by. Personally I’ve had a lot of difficulty dating as well, as an adult it just seems to ruin things. Consequently I tend to keep things in the “friend zone”, because forgiveness is very difficult territory in these situations for many people, me included. However, blocking out dating and relationships does not get me any closer to the fulfillment of having a family and being loved by a husband of my choosing as I envisioned since childhood. At times maintaining forgiveness can seem like a trade-off for respect or be confused with lowering expectations. As a single black woman I often feel held to insurmountable expectations from strangers all the way up to family and friends. How I should behave, what choices I should make, what I should allow or give time, attention, energy or money to shifts with an ever changing hierarchy. My existence feels relative, and dispensable. It’s difficult to forgive when the stakes seem high, because in many cases my forgiveness will probably not be reciprocated.
At some point the anger or the grudge or the action led by resentment or repressed feelings is all we have to cling to when things change. Realizing that the toxic attachment we create to emotions, people, and situations when we are unforgiving is only affecting our own reality is the first step. When battling these types of things with others we are more so battling our own self by recreating a significant negative interaction to continuously engage with emotionally and mentally. It’s almost like an addiction, and all you have to do is go to that memory in your mind to justify the emotional pattern once the situation is over.
We may need to come to terms with the idea that most people, places and things come and go throughout our lives. We must greet a new season in our life with trust curiosity and open arms and say goodbye to the past with the same vigor knowing that closing a chapter is not negative, but a natural progression of your lifes true purpose and journey. We may struggle with letting go because we can’t fix things or make them go back to the “good times” and yes that’s uncomfortable, but we have to forgive in a way that does not perpetuate agitation. We have to choose to truly move on from it and transition. That’s where the grey area is. Do we start to shut ourselves off emotionally from the world in order to not care? Do we take on all the responsibility and burden of constantly fixing or mitigating our own pain, suffering or anger?
In some schools of thought they teach you to observe your feelings more like a guest passing through your awareness. In this way we are not the hosts of emotions, but vessels where they pass through. Secondly, as humans we tend to attach meaning to all feelings thereby creating an emotion and subsequently attaching a story to it to rationalize it and so on. How dare we allow any mysterious vibration in our stomach or strange energy in our chest to dictate so pointedly our outward interactions or the sense we make of the world around us? Each way we turn it seems like running from being human is the thing we have to do and we may even feel guilt for living in a mindset that needs to constantly be corrected. The mental stamina it takes to constantly be correcting or fixing ourselves can be exhausting. Its difficult to go from a scarcity mindset to a mindset of abundance and maintain it. Life is happening constantly all around us regardless of how we wish or plan to react to it. Life’s situations have their own demands. We can either surrender to the unknown or keep fighting for an idealized life of our choosing.
Forgiving myself allows me to learn from past experiences and attempt to do better in the future. This applies to both personal and professional life. I think in sharing our forgiveness practices we tend to express them in broad sweeping statements or one or two particular instances. However, it’s really the complex grey area that we need to unpack and create tangible steps for if we want to consistently and methodically help ourselves and others to forgive as part of a health and well-being practice. Below are some things to consider in order to help fight through the grey area of forgiveness.
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Originally published at medium.com