Being an HSP/empath, I did not grow up with healthy boundaries and that meant I was a target for bullying and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. For many years, I foolishly walked around wearing the Victim label like designer jeans. Eventually, I found my way to a great therapist who helped me get out of the victim mode and who recommended some self-help books that taught me the power of forgiveness.
At first, I actually felt "high" from the process of forgiving. Then I realized it was just a way to soothe my ego.
Even though forgiveness had allowed me to release my hurt and anger, I somehow got it in my head that by forgiving someone, it confirmed that I was in the right and they were in the wrong. So although I was letting go of the pain I felt, I held on to the judgement that the person was, on some level, bad.
Then over the next few years, I gathered these nuggets of spiritual wisdom that changed my perspective and taught me to operate from a higher place:
- At a 2011 peace conference, I heard the Dalai Lama say, "From the time we are born, we fully participate in every moment of our lives."
- Neale Donald Walsch wrote in Conversations with God, "Understanding replaces forgiveness in the mind of the Master."
- Esther (Abraham) Hicks proclaimed that there is no need to ask God for forgiveness because God never condemned anyone in the first place.
Through these teachings, I came to understand that there is a place BEYOND...where forgiveness gives way to unconditional love.
For me, learning how to find that place beyond forgiveness included these steps: ACCEPTING that I am part of that other person's journey (good, bad, whatever...) as much as they are part of mine; APPRECIATING that "bad behavior" (faults, frailties and offenses) comes from a place of fear, an unhealed wound, or a lack of understanding; ACKNOWLEDGING that God is still working in that person (and me) and finally, EMBRACING all of it as part of the bigger picture - the divine design.
If you are having judgmental or unforgiving thoughts about someone in your life (or even public figures you see on the news!), I invite you to try this exercise.
Think of the person and their offense against you, then answer these questions:
- On a scale of 1-10, how stressed do you think the person was when they behaved offensively toward you? What else was going on in their life?
- What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
- What did you learn about _________ (the offense) from this experience?
- Did this experience serve your personal or spiritual growth in any way? How?
- What loving words would you say to the person if you were their mother?
- If you were that person's best friend and they confessed that they offended someone else (the way they offended you), what would you tell them?
- What encouraging words would you say to them if you were God?
We are all on this human journey together. Some may stumble and fall on the path more than others. Surely those who have found their footing can be of the most service.
With great love,