We are going along just fine in the world and suddenly something happens, and we are just enraged at the injustice of it all. Someone cuts us off in traffic. Maybe we try to speak and are silenced. Maybe we speak our truth but are not heard. Maybe something inexplicably despicable happens to someone we know or to someone else who is vulnerable – like children, the handicapped, or the elderly. We feel filled to the brim, overtaken, by heat sensations rising. Our whole body feels hot. Our reaction to the situation is so powerful that we forget to breathe for a moment. Anxiety then accompanies our anger and we feel shaky and ungrounded. Well, we are not breathing properly, so our whole body gets the message that it is not safe. At this point, if you have the awareness, let that breath you are holding – out. Breathe long, deep, even inhales and exhales. Allow yourself to equalize. From here, you can move back to center, and on to the path of realizing what just happened and what action step is needed.
That sense of injustice lingers like a heavy scent of smoke even after we have centered ourselves. We might feel ourselves begin to descend into depression. We may realize we do not trust the world as we once did. Our fears come knocking on the door and we may get caught in a tirade of “How could this happen!” or “How dare they?!!!” Maybe we just sense that what we have witnessed is just not even believable, so heinous was the infraction. Some of us turn to numbing substances to handle the stress of times like these – food, alcohol, drugs, or other addictive coping strategies. Some of us just decide to turn away and deny that it ever happened. Others of us cannot get the unjust act out of our minds. It is there, staring at us, whenever we relax out of self-distracting behaviors.
Whatever we do, ultimately developing a forgiveness practice around this unjust situation will help us process what happened, allow us to come to terms with it, and let it go. I said forgiveness ‘practice’, because it sometimes takes some work, one layer at a time, to release the entire event.
Here’s what happened for me, based on a recent event filled with injustice. I felt so much sensation at first that I thought I wouldn’t be able to hold it all. I became still and got really present to all that sensation. I made sure to breathe consciously. This helped me ‘get out of the way’ and let those sensations flow unimpeded throughout my body. I sent a prayer to my Higher Power and asked for guidance. Then I listened into the silence. After a while, a reasonable action step came to mind as to what I could do to help the people around the situation.
And I said a prayer of personal forgiveness. I asked for help forgiving myself for becoming less trusting – of others, of the world, and ultimately of my Higher Power. I asked for help to keep from becoming angrier, to keep from getting lost in my righteous indignation. I asked for help in allaying my fear, for fear leads to vengeance and that would only add to the injustice already committed. I asked for help in growing my courage. I asked for guidance out of doubt, out of dread, out of despair. I asked to grow my faith in my purpose. I asked to grow my compassion. I ask for help forgiving around the event and all the people involved. I ask for guidance in my next steps forward. These are all things I need help with, especially in times when I feel such a sense of injustice.
What would you like help with as you practice forgiving around injustice?