All About Pain – Part 7A: Practical Forgiveness

© Dane Roubos, D.C.

Emotions Affect Us on a Deep Level
Emotions are an important part of being human. If we don’t allow ourselves to fully experience emotional energies when they arise, and let ithem pass on through, the energy we don’t feel or express can get trapped in our body tissues or energy field.

This trapped energy can accumulate and be stored for years, or an entire lifetime. Most of us are carrying emotional baggage from the past. It acts to disrupt normal energy flow in the tissues and acupuncture meridians, which affects our organs, undermines our health, and contributes to our stress level. It makes us susseptible to having our “buttons pushed.”

Trapped emotions have a big impact on our body and mind. Most chronic physical or mental challenges are associated with one or more blocked emotions, especially those from our past. In most cases, there is no conscious awareness of this emotion. It is lodged in our body and sub-conscious mind.

I’ve worked with many folks who’s physical problems seemed to be related to resentment they were carrying about people or events in their past. Many knew this to be true, but didn’t know how to let it go. It’s not as easy as just saying, “I forgive you.” However, being willing to say that might be a first step in the process.

The Bottom Line
Forgiveness is not a decision to be made – it is not from the mind. Real forgiveness occurs in the heart. It usually happens over a period of time, as we’re ready for each step along the way.

Here’s the real bottom line on forgiveness. Whatever blame, judgment or resentment we’re holding onto is affecting us on the inside, and eats away at our health. It keeps us stuck in the past, and an unhappy one at that.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone what was done. It is something you do for yourself, to let go of the weight you’ve been carrying, and any desire for retribution. It’s about setting yourself free.

The Blame Game
Our human egos are adept at the blame game – the most popular game in town. Growing up in most cultures, children learn this game early on. Unfortunately, we usually become more sophisticated at playing the game as we get older. Politics, our legal system and newspaper headlines are proof enough of that.

When blame is cast, there is no room for resolution or healing of the situation. Conditions remain stuck between two or more opposing viewpoints, and antagonism persists. This impasse exists in many parts of the world where violence between different groups has a long history. The fact that many of these conflicts have been going on for thousands of years should be all the proof we need that “an eye for an eye” is not the answer. As Gandhi said, “that ends in making everybody blind.”

Conflict and Consciousness
What goes on culturally is a reflection of the “mass consciousness.” Each of us contributes our own level of light or darkness to the whole. We are truly “all in this together.”

As individuals, we have similar challenges to these cultures locked in conflict. Most of us have some degree of inner conflict, whether we’re aware of it or not. The Inner Critic is an example, and there are other “sub-personalities” in our minds which can make things interesting.

Just as war creates stress in our outer lives, inner conflict between different aspects of our personalities creates stress on the inside. When a few million of us are able to establish peace in our inner world, we are much more likely to achieve peace in our outer world.

Healing old wounds requires several steps:

Sincere commitment to the healing process on all sides.

Willingness to let go of blaming.

Each “side” must be willing and able to “hear” the feelings and needs of the other side. It may be helpful if people can share what they’ve experienced, and perhaps why they did what they did and what they were trying to accomplish.

Each side must be willing to take responsibility for their own part in the damage done.

Each side then makes their requests of the other, based on their needs in the situation.

A win-win solution is hopefully negotiated.

Non-Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, is an excellent book on this process.

If the other party, is unwilling or unable to participate, you are left to process the experience without them. The Journey, by Brandon Bays, has an excellent script for working through a forgiveness process on your own, or with the help of a friend.

Forgiveness cannot be done from the mind alone, as true forgiveness comes from our heart.  We may need to forgive ourselves first, for our perceived inadequacies, mistakes and misdeeds, before we can extend it to others.

Dr. Dane

There are many good books on forgiveness. You can probably find some at your local library or used bookstore. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Forgiveness: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Get on With Your Life by Sidney B. Simon and Suzanne Simon, (1991)
  • The Art of Forgiveness, Loving kindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield, (2008)
  • Radical Forgiveness, Making Room for the Miracle, 2nd Edition by Colin C. Tipping, (2002)