Why is it hard to forgive? (Part 2)

WIP (Manish)Four self-protective mechanisms that never let us heal !

My last blog on the above topic resonated with many readers. Some of you shared deep insights on “forgiveness” from your life experiences. From your comments, I have summarised four main themes about what keeps us stuck in our emotional wounds.

 

Illusion of forgetting
Forgetting is not forgiving. It’s only a quick fix that keeps us way from real healing 

Imagine a thorn pierced your bare foot. It’s so painful that you didn’t want to touch it. You stopped walking that path and swore to never see that thorny bush again. That’s forgetting. However, a part of the thorn still lives in you and every time you walk, it hurts.

Forgiving, on the otherhand, is coming to terms with the reality. Developing courage to look at the wound directly.  Pulling out the part of the thorn that does not belong to you. Healing what’s yours. Keeping the lesson. And, developing courage to walk the path again if you chose to.

When in pain our first reaction is to protect ourselves and so we tend to cut-off the relationship or situation that we associate pain with. Forgetting is like taking a painkiller to survive the night. Suppressing pain makes sense when it’s unbearable. However, our attempts to cut off or forget makes pain unpredictable and chronic. The real root cause never gets addressed. And the pain surfaces again and again in other life situations and relationships.

Novelist Paulo Coelho captures this difference while saying “Forgive but do not forget, or you will be hurt again. Forgiving changes the perspectives. Forgetting loses the lesson.”

Prison of stories
We are hurt not cause of what happened but the stories that we tell ourselves about the same.

Lets look at our most unforgivable wounds. What hurts us now is not the incident itself. It’s the memory of what happened. When we feel violated or wronged, we weave a story. We tell this story of our own pain, shame, blame & victimhood to ourselves again and again. Its like rubbling salt to keep the wound fresh. Why do we do that? 

Transactional Analysis defines such behaviour as “rackets” we get stuck in. If we examine deeply, we are stuck cause there is an illusionary pay-off and a hidden cost to our persistent stories of pain. We often repeat these stories cause we believe that it may help us feel justified or righteous about our victimhood. Or it may protect us from future insults. Whatever our payoff is, it’s illusionary. It would never heal us. The cost of living in pain is way too high as compared to justification about that pain 

What happened is as unpredictable as what would happen. Each actor in our play had his or her own story. Any attempt to figure out who is right or wrong is a zero-sum game. Forgiveness is letting go the story we tell ourself about our suffering.

After 27 years of unjust imprisonment, Nelson Mandela exemplified the act of forgiveness in his quote— “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Myth of resolution 
We can wait for life-time to seek resolution for our hurts or find another way to unleash their creative purpose  

As we heal our wounds thru forgiveness, deeper ones may surface. Some go back to childhood. Some pre-verbal. Some come from the collective suffering, from many lifetimes of disrespect and violence. When such a deep void opens what do we do? How do we forgive when the perpetrators are long gone or incapable of any confrontation or reconciliation? And what do we do with those arrows that have become part of your tissue? 

My friend Rie Gilsdorf made a great suggestion on Facebook post referring to the book, My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakim. She said “when the arrow is so deeply embedded and enmeshed in scar tissue, there’s no way to pull it out any more. But perhaps we can digest it, dissolve or catabolize it with an accompanying release of stored energy”

I feel she pointed out to what I now call “radical acceptance”. Radical acceptance is as simple as innocence of a child and as sophisticated as spiritual mastery. It may take us lifetime to embody it or it may happen in an instant without any training whatsoever. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, could be that simple and easy. It is the act of  gathering all our courage and saying “Whatever happened, happened. I know I can’t change the past. However I choose to influence the future. I fully embrace the current reality, with its incompletions, pain and hope. My past alongwith it’s joys and sufferings is my gift. It’s a part of who I am. I embrace it with gratitude and I step forward with confidence.” 

Sometimes resolution is not an apt solution. We seek deeper resolution and integration within. Psychologist Carl Jung reflected on the importance of integrating for our own development. “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries”. 

Hidden purpose of wounds
Wound are an invitation to step into higher spiritual realm and unlock our creative energy  

Imagine that the jewel you were looking for all your life was delivered as a dagger pierced in your heart. What would you do now? Walk with pain and curse the messenger or thank them for the dagger and heal your wound?

In Sita Ramayana, Devdutt Patnayak writes about a lesser told story from the famous epic Ramayana. Royal maid servant, Manthara had influenced Queen Kaikeyi’s to ask King Dashrath (Ram’s father) to send Ram on exile. Everyone hated Manthara for corrupting Kaikeyi and bringing grave misfortune to Ram. When Ram discovered that what did he do? He met Manthara and forgave her. Ram could see the divine purpose for which he was born. He could see that Mathara had only done a divine error to enable his path. He accepted that and moved on.

Now that’s mythology not our daily life. However, we do have little Ram and little Manthara living within us. We do have deep power to forgive and wisdom to see the divine path we are born for.  It’s important to understand that emotional pain is a doorway to our spiritual growth. The unforgivable “other” has showed up in our life in a particular way to help us deal with some aspects of our own mess. In a mystical way they hold a piece of the puzzle that we long for our own liberation.

Forgiving requires courage– to look within our wound, to reframe our pain as our teacher, to rise beyond transactional field of right or wrong and embrace that grand play that we are all part of. 800 years back Rumi noticed that field— “Out beyond our ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.. I will meet you there”

….

I am grateful to my readers and their contributions. It’s helping me (and hopefully all of us) in deepening our practice of forgiveness. 

Wishing you a wonderful new year 2019

Cheers 

Manish Srivastava 
(Artwork by Manish Srivastava)
http://www.sacredwell.in

Forgiveness- an old mantra to create new possibilities for coming year! 

Threshold of the new year is an invitation for us to reflect on the passing year and make a new start for the coming. Today’s cover page article on “Forgiveness” in the Pune Mirror brought a refreshing perspective on forgiveness as a way to dissolve our old hurts, angst and helplessness, and, create new possibilities in the coming year. It made me contemplate on what forgiveness means to me.

 

What is forgiveness, really?

Forgiveness is a magical mantra that can
Dissolve eons of hurt
In an instance

Forgiveness is an ancient wisdom
that healed broken hearts; restored sanity
And weaved the quilt to keep our children warm

Forgiveness is a paradox that’s simultaneously
Selfish— serving the deep individual need to be free
And selfless— opening our hearts to others vulnerability

Forgiveness is a choice that refreshes the earth,
Soft, tilled, black soil
Ready for rebirth

Forgiveness is the only way a victim is
Liberated from the prison of lifelong misery
Riding the wings of grace and compassion

Forgiveness is where the anger of past
And the fear of future dissolves in
The present moment

You and I are mere parts
In the grand play
Now relaxing in the script we never wrote

 

How do I forgive in true sense?

True forgiveness is not a transaction triggered by an apology
Sometimes, eyelids are more expressive than lips
Silence has more sorrow than “sorrys”
Regrets are realisations too fine for linguistics
Then why do we get stuck?
Waiting forever for a well articulated confession

Forgiveness is an inner journey that starts only when
A soul sees the self-destructive pay-off of nurturing hurt
Pointless power game of victimhood
And disproportionate suffering on behalf of a collective
that we have little or no memory of

Forgiveness is a calling for
The courage of Rama,
Fierceness of Shiva,
Grace of Shakti
And innocence of a butterfly

It is a radical simplicity—
of seeing yourself mirrored in the others
Acknowledging the broken humanness
Dropping the sword of vengeance
Becoming the Sovereign
And embracing the wounded heart!

 

Where do I begin? 

Oh my bleeding heart!
How deeply I long to forgive
Most of all, my own self!
For failing to stand for my innocence

All those faces, I love to despise
Hold a piece of my broken heart
Standing in a hesitant circle around me
Hoping to return what’s truly mine

As the year ends
I restore the lost pieces of my heart
Sitting alone with my brokenness
Letting others dissolve within

For the old soul taught us
“Wound is where the light enters…”

 

 

 

 

 

Wish you a wonderful new year!

Manish Srivastava
The Sacred Well

December 31st 2017

[Poetry & Pictures by Manish Srivastava]

……………………….

Afterthought:

5 questions that helped me in practicing forgiveness and freeing my inner power: 

[I am a practitioner and a poet. I need to integrate the insights in my practice. So, I reflected on 5 questions to help me release old hurts from 2017 and stepping in 2018 with new energy. Adding them below, in case, the practitioner-in-you longs to take similar journey]

  1. HURT: This year, what were the moments when I felt most angered, hurt, helpless or victimised? By whom and when?
  2. MY NEEDS: What needs/values of mine were most compromised? What are my regrets from self?
  3. OTHER’S VULNERABILITY: What might be the helplessness/stuckness/ fears that others might have experienced that made them behave the way they did?
  4. LET-GO: What is the burden (hurt, emotions, old story, memory etc) that I do not wish to carry anymore? What I am ready to let-go off now?
  5. HONOUR: How can I truly honour my deep needs/ values myself in future? What learning, resources, strengths I have gathered in all these year(s) to honour myself?