Ask someone about forgiveness and you generally get one of two reactions. Either a scowl followed by a rant explaining why forgiveness won’t ever happen, or a person who has figured out that forgiveness opens a door to reclaiming self-love. In cases of the former, that scowl has to be examined.
If left to fester, it can turn to stress and kill you spiritually and physically. The latter option is your best bet.
Here’s why. That scowl comes with a price. You’re angry. I get it, I really do. You believe in your heart, that you’ve been done wrong, and you’ll be damned if you let that person hurt you again. Your feelings are valid.In an article on forgiveness, Psychology Today reports on just why it’s so easy to hold a grudge. They state, “Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger sadness and confusion.” As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), I grappled with forgiving my perpetrator. After decades and lots of therapy, I did forgive, but I write about him frequently in conjunction with my advocacy work against CSA and Sexual assault.
Do you know anyone who hasn’t been faced with having to consider forgiveness? Probably not, because as humans we all feel. Factor in that harboring angry emotion against someone who has hurt you ends up hurting you more in the long run. I’m in no way suggesting you break bread and pick up the relationship. We fare better in certain situations if we love from a distance, assess and progress.
Get Your #Glowup On
We sometimes let unforgiveness get in the way of our personal growth. When we can’t forgive, we stunt our progress and in essence, we play ourselves. Deal with it, give yourself permission to process and if you’re mad for a minute, so be it. Don’t stay in that sunken place though. Been there, done that.
Open Your Heart to Self-Love
The best option as mentioned is the route to self-love. It requires that we get fiercely honest with ourselves about wanting to move from a place of pain back into the light. The first key is finding our voice, which leads to understanding our worth and coming into self-love. Some people get it early on. I didn’t. Don’t be like Imani. Save yourself some time and heed the life lessons early.
With Honesty Comes Clarity
Speaking of honesty, I’ve only come into my own over the last seven years. Also true is the fact, that I won’t go back to accepting any less than I deserve. It doesn’t matter whether shade is being thrown from a family member or a love interest. Treat me the way you want to be treated.I protect the peace I worked hard for.
Trauma Is Exhausting, Fight Past It!
My second marriage was short-lived and abusive. Through domestic violence counseling (group and individual), I found my voice. When I ran into him unexpectedly, a few years later, I immediately found a group meeting. I was scared, not of him, but of what I wanted to do to him. Believe me, when I say, I had to dig deep in lending forgiveness his way. In the end, I bet on self-love, by making a conscious decision not to track him down and make him feel pain like he had caused me. I had to love myself and my freedom more than the desire to cause him bodily harm. Growth!
Get Busy With Self-Empowerment
You may have to talk yourself down from doing something that’s irreversible. Do what it takes. Self-help books, empowerment videos, nature walks, find something. Do something that isn’t self-sabotaging and feels good in your soul. I keep it real when I write because many people appreciate transparency when we’re talking about transformation.
I was messed up and going through a divorce when my therapist assigned homework.
“I don’t usually tell patients to do this, but in your case, I’m making an exception. I want you to look in the mirror and say, “I Love You!” I had to do it three times a day. At first, it was awkward. I felt like I was stuck on myself like I thought I was “all that and a bag of chips.”
I even winked at the smiling woman staring back at me in the mirror. The exercise was successful in boosting my confidence. Don’t ever underestimate the power of self-acceptance.
Appreciate and Love of Self
In keeping with that momentum, I also hold an “Imani Appreciation Day!” A monthly celebration which I’ve maintained since my first encounter with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, in 1999. My special appreciation days are about spending solo time doing what I want to do. They’re intentional acts of practicing self-love and don’t cost a fortune, as I’m far from a baller. I have a budget of $25 to $30. I hit the Farmer’s Market, a free outdoor concert or somewhere else artsy where vendors have funky jewelry, or I take my journal and find some water where I sit and write.
More On Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way
The course and book are true life changers,and I hope you’ll check it out and get some of that good energy. I’ve taken the course and I’ve taught it. I continue to refer back to it when I feel depression coming on, or I experience writer’s block. As an author and healing arts therapist, Cameron gets in your face. Either you will get real with the reading and activities which all push towards self-care and self-love, or you toss the book.
Appreciate, and Love on Yourself
The Artist’s Way, is rewarding to do as a solo course, but it’s also very cool to do with a group of folks who are trying to be and live better. We hold each other accountable. You learn about yourself and your fellow classmates over the 8-12 week course. More importantly, you can see your growth from the inside out. Situations requiring forgiveness often cause trauma, and writing through trauma, is a good path to healing.
Give Yourself The Gift of Forgiveness
The gold star is always, “Self-love”.
Forgiveness is what keeps love turning in the world. Agape love, the kind that we’re supposed to have toward each other is expressed most vividly when forgiveness is given. Self-love is when we turn our beef with others into a lesson learned. Yes, it’s about
being the bigger person sometimes. Other times, it’s about freedom. Giving forgiveness humbles us while giving us peace of mind. Forgiveness is mystic in that way. It brings inner peace, which feeds self-love. Karma, has your back, too. Chill.
In truth, the journey to self-love is a spiritual thing. It’s personal. Think of the caterpillar that over time morphs into a beautiful butterfly. Forgiveness allows us a chance to shed old skin that no longer serves as well, and become this other thing of beauty that exudes love. The sentiment that, “We forgive others more for ourselves than the person who hurt us”, is a good type of selfish.”
You Can Plan A Pretty Picnic, But You Can’t Predict The Weather
We either figure out how to get through life’s drama that can pop off at any moment, or we become prey for those who seek out a weakness in others and pounce. Their bad day doesn’t have to be yours. Pre-Internet, if we had words with someone in a public space, it was likely to stay between the parties involved. Today, the interaction will be videotaped and you may find yourself on WorldStar facing criticism from keyboard warriors, whether you were right or wrong.Trust me, you don’t need that.
Self-love Dictates How We Handle Situations.
A lot of people are hurting and this creates an atmosphere of fear in the world. They haven’t done the work. The workaround is to stay on top of your square. It’s about practice, consistency, and staying true to self.
Forgiveness of Self and Others Are Both Needed for Self-Love to Blossom
Hang in there, there’s more. Setbacks happen because self-work is hard. Right? Damn, skippy it is, but you’re investing in self, and there’s no greater cause. Celebrate the good days, know your triggers so you can respond in love.
I don’t care who you are. We carry shame around from the past for things we’ve done, and even for things that may have been out of our control as children. Be gentle with yourself, and kind to your inner child on this journey. Writer him/her a letter and let them know that you’re really working on being your best self and that you’ll do your best to protect yourself now. The art of forgiveness and self-love can be yours. You’ll fly lighter and be less stressed.
Stay the Course, It’s Worth It
Be encouraged, you can do this. Focus on self. Even with life’s drama and mistakes, you’re older and wiser and you’re recognizing your voice. Congratulations. You’re setting the stage for your #glowup of self-love, using forgiveness as a backdrop for your inner peace.
Copyright 2018 by C. Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.