What Forgiveness is Not
1. Forgiveness does not mean you are excusing another person's harmful actions.
2. Forgiveness does not mean you need to tell the person that he or she is forgiven.
3. Forgiveness does not mean you should try not to have hurt feelings about a harmful situation.
4. Forgiveness does not mean that everything is okay in the relationship.
5. Forgiveness does not mean you should forget the painful incident ever happened.
6. Forgiveness does not mean you have to continue to include the person who has harmed you in your life.
What Forgiveness Is
When forgiving another, we accept what has happened, and we focus on how we are growing in strength and wisdom through the challenges of our negative life events. This is often a gradual process. You do not necessarily have to include the person you are forgiving in your healing process. Forgiveness isn't something you do for the person who wronged you; it's something you do for your own emotional healing.
Seven Steps to Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a process of separating the truth of love from the lies of the ego. If we are not seeing a luminous and loving world, we are looking at life on the level of fear, and forgiveness will feel near impossible.
Forgiveness involves letting the outer world be as it is without judgment. When we condemn the world by believing that ego cruelty is the ultimate and only truth, we become a part of the hatred, harm, and selfishness.
It is possible to function practically in the world without becoming an active part of the collective ego darkness. While on one level we need to say, "no" with firmness to fear-driven unkindness, cruelty or destruction, on another level we can soulfully join with everyone we meet with the silent intention to emotionally heal.
Spiritual teacher Miranda Holden offers a beautiful way to inwardly join with people when it feels difficult to communicate face-to-face. My adaptations are below:
1. Choose Someone to Forgive: See someone with whom you would like to make a deeper connection, experience some kind of healing with, or breakthrough into forgiveness with, even as you are unable to relate person-to-person.
2. Look for the Light: See this person's face and feel their presence. Brush past the difficult personality traits and behaviors, your history together, and your fears of deeper contact, to search for the light in his or her heart. Trust that although this light may be shrouded, it is there. Be willing to reach for the highest within this person.
3. Build a Bridge of Grace: Once you can see this seed of light in the midst of the darkness, reach out from your heart to the light in his or her heart and walk towards it. Allow this light to draw you towards the highest within this person you want to forgive. Imagine that the light within both of your hearts is forming a bridge of grace.
4. Find the Emotional Need: With your heart wide open, compassionately sense into this person's darkness. Ask, "What is your primary emotional need?" Allow your intuition to show you a hidden emotional need within the person.
5. Find the Antidote: Next, ask your intuition to communicate the antidote to his or her emotional pain. It might be respect, love, appreciation or acceptance, for example. Pour this antidotal feeling of fulfillment into the person you want to forgive. Pour this emotional remedy directly into his or her heart.
6. Give to the Emotional Need: Through spiritual intention, give this person what he or she emotionally needs. Know that what you give to another, you also give yourself. As you both feel emotionally fulfilled on an inner imaginal level, speak out the contents of your heart.
7. Celebrate the Spiritual Relationship: Let all fears between you drop away. When you forgive those who have harmed you, your authentic self emerges along with a feeling of emotional relief. Celebrate and enjoy the truth of your spiritual relationship with this person, even if it is not a reality on an outer personality level.
This article was excerpted from my e-course A Course in Creating Miracles