If you are the kind of person who reads a lot of books about personal development and happiness, you have probably noticed that it is widely recommended to forgive those that have caused us pain. It is considered the right thing to do.
Forgiveness is considered one of the most efficient therapies or a panacea for hurt and pain by a wide range of therapists and spiritualists. But sometimes, therapists act like priests trying to push for forgiveness without acknowledging how hard it can be for the victim to forgive.
Positive thinking has different effects. In the previous secret, I introduced you to the belief that we can control all our lifes by controlling our thoughts. Here I would like to show you how this way to think could be very judgemental and limitating. Some coaches and worst psycho-therapists dare to say that if you are not able to close a chapter of your life by forgiving you’ll be unable to create more happiness, and you’re responsible for this. It is not your fault – and I really hate this belief!
When we are subjected to this kind of therapy, we are not given the opportunity to really look at the trauma, acknowledge it or create a process to resolve it. Instead, we feel ashamed that we’re not able to forgive. Sometimes, we feel selfish and self-centred because we are unable to understand and forgive the other person (the person who mistreated, betrayed or even raped us). We don’t allow ourselves to take the necessary steps to heal. We want to do it as quickly as possible to stop the pain.
Remember, we need time. Each person will progress at his or her own pace and it is very important to respect this.
After more than 15 years of practice, I have not seen one client happy and healed using this method. Most of them have just built up defences and it’s now even more difficult to reach the root of their pain. They say they forgave their persecutor, as they wanted to forget their past and look forward to a positive future.
Unfortunately, they forgave with their heads but not with their hearts and bodies. Only one part of them forgave, which is not sufficient to regain their inner power and vitality. It is only the desire to be good and generous that pushed them to forgive, but their True Self was not ready to do this, which it expresses through different symptoms.
One of the most obvious symptoms is depression.
Depression is the result of suppressed anger, and it can lead to other symptoms that include relationship difficulties and a myriad of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, digestive problems, and so on.
I also know other types of therapy that push individuals to express their anger, but if this is done too early it could actually be worse than not expressing it at all.
I can confidently say that forgiveness IS NOT the best treatment for all people, all the time. It can cause more damage that the persecutor.
Acceptance doesn’t mean approval.
I would like to look at the word “acceptance” with you and explore its meaning, as it is difficult to understand. For many, it means “to agree”. This is incorrect.
When we accept, we decide to live with what happened, whether it was pleasant or unpleasant, but it doesn’t mean that we have to approve of it. We only recognise the reality: what happened to us and what changed our lives for the better or worse.
I would like to share my own experience about acceptance, forgiveness and recovering my inner power.
I suffered violence in my childhood and then as an adult, in two violent relationships.
The relationship was with the father of my two youngest children. After seven years of trying everything imaginable to fix the situation, I decided to leave him. For a long time, I was scared to be around him, but I was really brave and, after a few NLP sessions, I was able to form a good friendship with him. For me, it was a sign that I had forgiven him and I finally felt like violence was out of my life.
A few years later, I met a man with whom I had a fiery passion. It was intense… and violent. He often threatened me if I didn’t give him what he wanted. When I understood that I was once again living in violence, I immediately felt depressed and my self-esteem plummeted. I was in despair and my whole life was collapsing around me. My business, my relationship with my children, and my finances, all at once. I was so lost. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I thought I’d solved my past issues with two years of psychoanalysis, many kinesiology sessions and self-development. So why was this happening to me, a well-known therapist in southern Belgium? I was so ashamed that I felt unable to hold sessions with my clients. I felt like a fraud. So I decided to have more therapy and, after a few sessions, I discovered that I had been behaving like a victim my entire life, and I was really attached to this way of living. It was my comfort zone. I knew how to profit from this state. But I didn’t know what I was doing. It was unconscious. Completely unconscious. It was such a revelation. This was my identity and the reason behind so many of my behavioural patterns, such as my interaction with “bad boys”. I had been playing the role of the victim this whole time. I thought that I had forgiven my mother and father for betraying me, beating me, lying to me and scaring me. I thought that I was being a good Christian for trying to understand my parents and excuse them for treating me badly.
I made up excuses for them. My poor mother never had a good life and my poor dad was betrayed by his ex-wife/friends. Ruined and disappointed by life and humanity, it was not their fault that they treated me the way they did. I was strong and had a loving heart, so it felt natural to forgive them. I pitied them because I was greater than they were and they weren’t aware of what they were doing. So I was able to forgive them. It made me strong, brave and generous. Sometimes, I felt blessed for having had such a bad childhood because it made me so compassionate.
I ignored all my traumas. I ignored the despair I felt and how scared I had been as a little girl. I owned the situation to try and be a better person – more loving and more understanding. I didn’t feel like a victim. I had never before in my life felt like a victim, until going through therapy. So when I finally acknowledged that I was a victim, I was ready to accept this role without feeling shame and so I booked an appointment with a victims’ service in my town. I was ready to own my vulnerability. I attended and felt recognised as a victim. I discovered that I had rights and ways to protect myself. I was no longer alone with my pain.
This was a cataclysmic change in my life. After that, everything felt different. I no longer wanted to forgive my parents, my ex, or any other person who had hurt me. I no longer felt the need to make excuses for them. They did what they did, and that was their problem. My problem was to live with my scars.
I recovered my energy and self-esteem very quickly. I no longer felt an affinity with the role of a victim.
The message here is that if you live your life without denial, rejection and judgement, you accept what has happened to you and you will use your experiences to become more generous and lead a happier life.
Forgiving yourself first is the key to finding peace with yourself
I have noticed that in most cases, the first person you’re angry with is yourself. We judge ourselves with no compassion. We blame and punish ourselves because we take all the responsibility and guilt. It’s really sad. We probably let others hurt us and have accepted to be used and humiliated as a way to survive or receive love and recognition. We wanted to believe that the person who hurt us loved us, but they actually betrayed us. We tried to deny what happened because we hated the fact that we were so innocent, stupid or trusting.
The person who really needs forgiveness is you. If you are not able to forgive yourself, you will never be able to accept love from others. You will never feel worthy of their gifts, attention or excuses. It’s about self-esteem.
You need to rebuild your self-esteem and anger will help you do this.
Anger is your best ally
Anger is power and energy; it’s a storm that will clear everything. It’s like a tsunami.
Never deny this power; this ally. Use it. Don’t let anger rule your life, your forgiveness or your recovery process. If you let anger take control, it will be your enemy rather than your ally.
Anger can help you forgive. You need to express your anger, but you need to control it. Don’t harm yourself or anyone else. It could be worse to let this energy take over than keep it hidden inside you.
I recommend writing letters to all the people you are angry with. Then, you need to decide whether you want to send them or use them in a “letting go” ritual. You could also feel anger towards factors or events.
Forgiving is not forgetting
When we are ready to forgive the people who hurt us, we become able to welcome love back into our lives. This is true for when you forgive yourself. Forgiving is more about you than other people. It is an opportunity to learn from painful experiences. This enables us to turn pain into a blessing, which we can probably use to inspire others.
When we forgive the people who hurt us, we don’t have to become best friends with them. We do not owe them anything and we don’t have to forget what they did, especially if they never admit to what they did.
It is very important to be aware of this. Sometimes people don’t understand the pain they have caused us. We need to relinquish the need to hear them apologise and express regret. They probably don’t have the same values, morality and respect for their friends that we do. I think it’s best to learn from them and to avoid them.