Today we have a guest post by writer and life coach, Christie Inge. She’s helping us understand radical forgiveness in relationships and how that can help us in our own journeys.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the concept of forgiveness. I understand it in theory, but in practice it’s really hard. And you know why? Because, for me personally at least, I don’t want to give up my anger. So I have a hard time forgiving while holding on to anger. That’s why I find this post by Christie so enlightening. I hope you find it helpful too.
A handful of years ago, I accidentally discovered that my family had been keeping a huge secret from me for my entire life. I don’t want to get into the details of the secret because what I found out doesn’t really matter as much as what I’ve learned since then.
The heart of what I want to share with you is a lesson in radical forgiveness.
At first, when I found out, I was actually quite relieved. I’m highly sensitive and empathic and my whole life, I had sensed that something wasn’t right. And since I had spent most of my years completely doubting my instincts, it felt like sweet relief to know that my intuitive sense of what was going on was pretty close to spot on.
But then, as the reality of it sank in, my heart became incredibly heavy. I felt betrayed. And angry. And more hurt than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
I sank into a vast depression, my health started to rapidly decline, and I became even more distant from my family. I attended some family events but they felt tainted by this huge elephant in the room. I’d consider calling or going down for a visit but the heartache was just too much.
Emotionally, I just got worse and worse.
And then, the shame kicked in.
See, I’m a life coach.
And I pride myself on my intuitive abilities in helping others navigate changes in their lives but I was failing miserably at navigating this change. I tried repeatedly to “positive psychology” my way out of the pain but that seemed to make it worse, not better.
So, not only was my family life in worse shape than ever, everything I believed about overcoming obstacles and staying “positive” was unraveling as well.
The skills I’d acquired in all of my various trainings just didn’t hold up under the weight of that kind of pain.
I felt like I was driving down a highway with no road signs to guide the way.
The only thing left to do was surrender.
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I had to trust that, as a soulful expression of the Divine, something was being fulfilled in this Heroine’s Journey and that I’d eventually make my way out.
I know, all the way down to my bones, that the reason I am here, on this rock called earth, is to experience all of the sensations that life has to offer, not just the rainbows and butterflies.
So, as painful as it was, I started to lean into the feelings instead of pushing them away.
I allowed myself to feel the depth and the breadth of this gut wrenching experience.
I let go of my need to control my feelings and surrendered into the expanses of their wisdom.
And, eventually, I started to recognize a desire to forgive.
At first, this notion of forgiveness only kicked up even more anger. I was righteous in my pissed off-ed-ness and some parts of me just weren’t ready to let it go.
So, I decided to remain steady in my commitment to feeling it all, all the way through. I got up close and personal with the parts of me that actually kind of enjoyed the anger.
The part of me that loves feeling angry because then she doesn’t have to feel the deep well of sadness. As I allowed those feelings to bloom, a softening began to unfold inside of me.
I started to feel empathy and compassion for the reason they had kep this secret in the first place. I started to see them as humans instead of evil monsters with ice for hearts.
Much to my surprise, I started to feel gratitude for this lifelong lie.
See, most of my life was spent in a sticky vat of unhealthy coping skills. Binge drinking. Drug addiction. Sex with strangers. Eating disorders. You name it and I’ve probably tried it as a way of drowning out the pain of life.
I often joke that I should be dead or in jail rather than a life coach!
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And what I realized, was that if I’d found out this secret, even as little as 10 years ago, I don’t think I would have made it out alive. Literally.
In this a-ha moment, I found forgiveness. Radical and deeply healing forgiveness.
And what I know for sure about that is that accepting my emotions as healers instead of as a barrier is why I made it there in a way that feels grounded and real, not forced.
So, if you are struggling to forgive someone in your life, I’d encourage you to remember these things:
Your feelings are your wisest source of counsel.
If you resist your emotions, even the “ugly” ones like anger or despair, you cannot access the wisdom inside of those feelings. If you allow your feelings to unfold, without pushing against them, they will lead you a place of deep healing, and maybe even forgiveness.
Adding shame to pain is pointless.
Shaming yourself for not “feeling better” or “getting over it” is only complicating your feelings more. It doesn’t actually help you to process them in a healthy, and healing, way.
You are a human being and as a Divine Soul, you wanted the human experience, which includes all of the emotions available.
Don’t try to force yourself into feelings things that you, quite simply, don’t.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are OK with crappy behavior.
If someone has treated you in a way that isn’t OK with you, forgiving them doesn’t mean their behavior was OK. You get to have your boundaries about how you want to be treated AND you can forgive.
Forgiveness is really a process of letting go for your own sake.
Do it on your terms.
I felt a lot of pressure to get over my feelings and to move into forgiveness much faster than I was ready. And every time I gave into that pressure, I only felt worse.
Your own timing is perfect. There is no need to rush. And the more you honor your own timeline, the more grounded you will feel in your sense of forgiveness once you find it.
Even in the face of devastating, heart wrenching pain, you can make your way to forgiveness if you trust yourself, accept your emotions as the messengers they are, and allow it to unfold in your own way. I do hope that these lessons I learned will help you along the way.
Christie Inge Bio
Christie Inge is a writer and life coach who helps women practice unconditional self acceptance without giving up on their biggest dreams and goals. She’ll help you navigate this ride called life with self love, self compassion, and oh so much grace. You can find her pinning like a wild woman on Pinterest and pouring her heart out on her website christieinge.com.
I hope that this post on radical forgiveness helped you in some way, I know it helped me! What do you think? Leave your comments below.
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