Forgiveness is something we are familiar with yet sometimes it is difficult to do. Learning how to forgive the unforgivable stretches us and helps us deepen our compassion for others and ourselves. Here are the seven steps you can use to be able to forgive the unforgivable at last.
How do we let go?
A client asked me the other day if I could help her forgive the unforgivable. She was clearly wrestling with angst about what happened. She felt the torment of a past injustice and wanted to let it go and move forward without its burden. She was willing to forgive, but she was still holding onto her frustration and wanted to be free of the whole situation.
What do you do when you experience something that you just feel is unforgivable? You experience an injustice so abhorrent that you feel there is no recourse and no coming back from the incident. Where does forgiveness fit into this knotty situation? Can we ever forgive, or is it a hopeless pursuit?
Here are seven steps you can take to help you forgive the unforgivable:
Step 1 – Forgiveness begins with self-reflection and self-honesty
Let’s start right where you are. You have had an experience that is shocking and unconscionable. You have drawn a red line as it were, and this experience is far beyond your limit of decency. Let’s get clear. You have decided where that red line is and what is on either side of it. You have made this meaning about the situation. The first step in beginning the inquiry to forgiveness is in identifying and understanding your standards. By pinpointing your beliefs and the limits you place on them, you can clearly see where you stand on this unpardonable act.
Then look at how strongly you hold to these principles. What is your commitment to the beliefs that you carry about the incident? Are you determined to stand fast to your position, or is there room for a softening in your stance?
Step 2 – Take responsibility
The next step to understand that you hold the energy of your reaction to the incident. You are responsible for carrying the energy you have around this issue. Previously, you may not have been aware of this, but now you can see it for what it is. There is no judgment here, just an awareness of the dynamic at play. In considering forgiveness, you can then ask yourself if you are ready to release this energy, or if you prefer to carry it. In some instances, it may serve you in the moment to hold the injustice you feel about what happened. In that holding, do you notice the tension you are experiencing in your body when you think about the unforgivable incident? You might even notice that you have difficulty relaxing whenever you think about the situation. Do you want to lighten the load, or is it serving you in some way to carry it? Do you feel a sense of attachment to it? The point here is to be clear and conscious about your posture, whatever it is. There is a certain quiet inner knowing and acknowledgment when you admit honestly to yourself what you are up to. Make sure you have self-compassion for whatever you discover in this self-reflection, no matter where you are in the process.
Step 3 – Further your self-assessment
What are you getting out of not forgiving? In the long run, is it giving you the life you want? The short-term experience is a false form of power, but it is certainly a potent one. The ego is filled with the energy of being righteous. You may feel a sense of “I feel this, and I have a right to a righteously indignant”. You don’t want to forgive. Are you willing to let go? Again, there is no judgment here about what your position is, just an understanding of it. Allow yourself to be where you are and continue doing the work of moving through this experience. Is it adding to your life force or pulling you down? Further, you may feel that in this moment you are not ready to even consider forgiving. That’s fine, of course, so long as you are clear and honest with yourself.
Step 4 – Ancestral Clearing
Consider bringing Ancestral Clearing into the mix. Ancestral Clearing is a powerful practice to help us release things we carry from the past and that we may have carried for generations. It was a total game-changer for me. This modality helped me release so many layers built up from the past, including the toxic resentment I held onto about the unforgivable in my life. It was so powerful and so healing that I became an Ancestral Clearing Practitioner in order to help others with this process.
Step 5 – It’s your choice, and your process – don’t judge the moment
Be at ease with where you stand on the issue in the present moment. If you are angry at the person who committed the unforgivable act you, then recognize your anger. Accept that this is what you are experiencing. If you resist how you feel, perhaps judging yourself for being angry, or wishing you weren’t angry, you will suffer. If you are judging yourself for not being able to find forgiveness, try and just accept that you haven’t found it yet. Recognize that you are resisting. Are you willing to stay here in suffering or are you willing to explore an alternative, such as letting go of your resistance to letting go of the unforgivable act? Let go of self-abasement and self-judgment.
We experience something we feel is unforgivable. We bear the hardship of our unforgivable experience as part of our identity. We feel victimized and powerless over what happened. We take back our power when we realize that the only power we truly have is the choice to forgive.
Step 6 – Forgive yourself
No matter how much you might want to find forgiveness for what happened, you might find you just cannot find it within yourself to do forgive. It may even feel like you have a hidden “forgive” switch inside that you just can’t locate. You may notice a sense of solid, stalwart, unbending presence inside yourself. Forgive yourself for not being able to let go: “I forgive myself for not forgiving the other”. Until you can find acceptance with how you feel about what happened, you will suffer.
Step 7 – Find willingness and compassion
Willingness is the push that gives us the momentum to forgive. It is a choice. Sometimes willingness is all the force we need to let go of our resentment. Sometimes you may find that it is a process. The righteous indignation that we feel is our ego hanging on and making judgments about what happened. When you can recognize the ego and its attachment here, you may find yourself more easily to move to a neutral position, and so come one step closer to forgiveness. Whereas you cannot condone what happened, you can have compassion and forgive the person who took the action, realizing how tortured they were and how much they were suffering. Forgiveness is releasing the feeling of anger toward someone who has wronged you.
The distance from the unforgivable to forgiveness can seem daunting and perhaps even impossible viewed in the moment. As we accept our present experience and leave open the possibility that something else may be possible in the next moment, we begin the journey to change. After hanging onto a piece of the past for so long, and finally being able to let it go, we find contentment at last in forgiveness.
If you struggle with forgiveness, release yourself from your source of suffering with The 40 Days of Forgiveness Program. This is a simple, effective and profound process to help you release the pressure of resentment you feel. It helps you shift and uplift your energy, heal past pains, dissolve self-destructive negative thought patterns, and help you find peace. This practice is easy to follow.