Forgiveness is a word that’s been running run our home a lot this week. It started with a video that is currently bouncing around facebook from Eva Kor one of the Mengele twins. (For those of you that don’t know Mengele twins are Jewish twins that were used in Nazi experiments during world war two). In this video this amazing women after recounting what happened to her in Auschwitz, told of her process of forgiving both Josef Mengele who was responsibile for these experiments and a nazi officer who she met and travelled back to Auschwitz with to complete her forgiveness journey. WOW. This video humbled me in so many ways especially as I am currently working on a journey of forgiveness at the moment. It blew my mind away at the strength, wisdom and capacity for understanding of humanity this women showed and I wondered to myself at the time. How? How do you forgive something like that? And at the same time I wondered could I do that? And if I had to forgive and heal in this way how would I do it? How does someone forgive?
Of course when you ask the universe a question like that it responds by saying here I will show you, which led to my own journey of forgiveness this week, centering around my Father. It’s a long story and in it are many personal details which are not my own, so I won’t be sharing it. What it did provoke was anger and a strong feeling of abandonment for me. Old hurts resurfaced and honestly I was a mess. Now it is not on any way a similar journey to the one in the video, far from it. However for me it was an emotionally hard journey that has given me a few insights into how one begins to forgive that I’d like to share with you. So here is my guide on forgiveness I hope it will help you too.
Identify the hurt
As I said this week the situation with my father brought up feelings of abandonment which I didn’t understand. I had no idea where this was coming from so in order to start processing I needed to understand. So I wrote a letter. Not one I sent to him. It was a letter where I wrote to him about how I felt. As I wrote I found myself answering the questions I posed in the letter and slowly I could see the old and deeper hurts that this situation had affected.
So before you start the process of forgiving get clear around what the hurt is. Talk to non involved parties, write a letter as I did (and I can highly recommend the Love letter technique) get clear around your emotions and your pain.
What do you want?
Figure out what you want. In my case there were certain things I want my Dad to do to help the healing process. These I found when writing my letter and these have become the basis of my conversation I am having with him now. So ask yourself can these hurts you have found be healed? And how can they be healed? Make a list of what you want to happen everything. And then after look over your list and see which of these things is achievable. What can realistically be done to help you heal? Identify the healing solutions you can manifest and focus on these.
Where is your responsibility?
You have heard the old saying love is a two way street, well honestly its more accurate to say life is a two way street, requiring give and take on both sides. There is always responsibility on each side. It can be simply saying that it is my choice to allow this event/trauma to affect my relationship/career/ future is your side of taking responsibility. So have a look at where are you responsible and where are they?
Acceptance and understanding
Speaking to a friend about forgiving parents she said to me “remember you have to realise they didn’t mean to be bad or hurt you”. It is something you have to accept. And honestly 99% of the time this is true. People don’t often mean to hurt other people. The other person is rarely motivated just by wanting to hurt you, there is always another side of the story. If you want to truly heal you need to understand the other side. This can come in the form of talking to them or in the form of research the other person. So if the person is dead then see if you can find out more from their friends or family for example.
Of course the flip side of understanding is that you can’t always find out about their side of the story. This then brings you back to my friends wise words, accept and trust that the other person didn’t mean to hurt you. Hard but it is possible if you want to heal and forgive you have to do this.
The gift of the trauma
Everything in life teaches. Good and bad experiences alike. If I hadn’t experienced homelessness I wouldn’t have experienced building a life from the bottom up, if I didn’t have diabetes I wouldn’t have learnt to take care of myself. Each trauma comes with a gift. Appreciating this gift makes it easier to forgive. What is the gift of your trauma?
Communicate or not
Now you have decide if you want to involve the person that hurt you. Sometimes we don’t need to communicate with them to forgive and heal ourselves. Sometimes we do. Forgiving someone for hurting you is ultimately something for you not them. You may wish to communicate with them but not tell them that you forgive them. In the video verbally forgiving her tormenter was enough even though she never got to do it to his face. You need to decide how those words, “I forgive you” are going to used.
If you do decide to talk with the person I highly recommend you focus on communicating your pain in the situation and understanding their side of the story. This way you both have the opportunity to heal and alter your relationship. In the situation with my Father I know a direct conversation would hurt him more than heal our relationship so I am going to focus on the solutions I have identified and by asking certain questions I can understand his side of the story. Only if it is necessary will I tell him about the pain I felt. I have in essence already forgiven him but I know I need to talk to him before the matter is closed in my heart.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are pardoning or excusing the other person’s actions. By forgiving, you are accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution with it. Forgiveness is ultimately something you do for yourself.
By forgiving you free up a part of your soul and empower yourself. As Eva said in the video” it is a power no-one can give me and no-one can take away”. Forgiveness is for you only.
Eva Kor made one of the ultimate journeys of forgiveness, she says,
“Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment. All victims, all hurt feel helpless, feel hopeless , feel powerless. I want everybody to remember that we cannot change what has happen. That is the tragic part. But we can change how we relate to it.”
So if you have a pain or a trauma that is holding you back. Forgiveness is key to opening the door to a freer future and only you can turn the key. I hope this inspires you in tour forgiveness journey.
I acknowledge and honour your bravery in taking the journey of forgiveness.
Have a wonderful healing weekend <3
P.s if you would like to read more about Eva Kor here is a link to her Forgiveness Project