Thursday, October 10, 2013

Love and Closeness Challenge #20: Forgiving

Today's challenge is forgiving, challenge #14 was forgiven, which is the other side of the forgiveness coin. They are both about letting go of the past and healing, but they are distinctly different. When someone feels forgiven, they feel that you have let the past go and can be present with them. They feel like you accept them as they are now. When someone feels forgiving, they feel empowered, they feel that they have the power to start new and live in the present with you. 
When someone forgives you, how do you feel? I don't mean when they tell you from a righteous stand point or in a judgmental way where you are bad, but they'll pardon you because they're just a better person than you. I'm talking about when someone really lets go of the past, forgets about what happened as if it never even occurred and treats you with kindness, respect and love in the now. For some people, it's a fresh start and they feel as if anything that has happened in the past has been healed and now they can move forward from this moment with this person. This is idea, and it helps the relationship to be close and loving and everyone is happy.
For others, this doesn't feel good. When someone forgives them, even when it is completely sincere, they feel guilt. The other person has let the past go, but the forgiven person lives with a feeling of guilt. For the person that has been forgiven, it feels awful, but she is not the only person that this effects. Forgiveness requires a giver and a receiver. In short, if the other forgives you but you can't forgive yourself, then you are not truly forgiven. The other hasn't been successful in their forgiving and this creates pain and discord in the relationship. The heaviness of guilt and regret "energies" are added to the relationship, as well as the uncomfortable feeling of failure. 
If this is you, if your mate or other loved one has forgiven you for past mistakes, but you are still carrying guilt and regret, it's time now to let it go. If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for them so they can feel successful in forgiving you. 
For me, the candle ritual that I do every morning works wonders. I feel that I have completely forgiven and I feel completely forgiven. However, this may not work for you. If I'm feeling really guilty, I'll go to the person that has already let it go and tell them that I still feel guilty. I explain to them that even though they've let the past go, that I still really regret my actions and I feel guilty. What happens from there is usually a very healing conversation and a new closeness with that person.
If for whatever reason you can't talk to that person, action may be the best course of action. Think of what it is that you are feeling guilty about. Let's say that you forgot to do pack a lunch for your child and they had to go without lunch (I've actually done this before, more than once). They came home starving and ate everything they could get their hands on and then they were fine, but you weren't. You were thinking things like: "What kind of mother forgets to give her child food?" and you were filled with guilt and regret. To heal this with action, you could do something that will offset the energy, neutralize it if you will. You could make an extra special lunch for them the next day with a couple of their favorite snacks and include a little note that said something like: "I feel really awful for forgetting to pack your lunch yesterday, so I packed you some of your favorite foods. I hope you like it! I love you". That "neutralizes" the energy. You could argue that you are acting out of guilt, but if it neutralizes the guilt and it increases your well being and the other's well being, I'm all for it. 
There is more to complete this however, guilt is a teacher to ensure that the action is not repeated. That is why we have emotions, to guide and teach us. Guilt and regret are teachers that tell us that we love this person and want them to feel good, so don't repeat this action that made them feel bad. They're painful to help us remember, if they weren't painful, they wouldn't be useful guides for us. Using the above example of forgetting the lunch, ask yourself two questions. The first is: what can I learn from this? The second is: what can I do to always remember to pack her lunch? For the second one the question really is: what can I do to make sure that I don't repeat this action? Try and state it in the positive instead by thinking how you consistently do more of the opposite of whatever the guilt inducing action was. Try and keep it very simple, very easy (effortless if possible) and something that works well with the way your life already works (your routines etc).With the lunch maybe you learned that you're routine isn't working or that you aren't present in the evenings while you're making the lunch and you need to slow down. Maybe you figured out that while you clean up in the evenings it's easy for you to put her lunch together and in the mornings you always make yourself coffee so if you could put her lunch right next to the creamer you won't forget. Whatever you need to do to learn the lesson is honoring the guilt and forgiving yourself. 

Observe your life. Is there anything you feel guilty about? Is there anything you feel regret about? It's my firm belief that you wouldn't have the feelings of guilt and regret if there wasn't something to be learned and something to be healed. When you answer the above questions, now it's time to complete those things so that you can move on with your life. Try the candle ritual, but also ask yourself if there is a conversation that needs to be had. Is there a person that you need to connect with and share your feelings with? What is the lesson that the guilt and/or regret is trying to teach you, something that it is trying to guide you to do? What actions can you take to integrate the lesson into your life? What can you do to make sure that the guilt/regret inducing action doesn't get repeated?

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