W.O.W.~5 stages of {letting go and} forgiving

Tympanum Puerta del Perdón, Cathedral of Toledo ~ Typananum Door of Forgiveness (Wiki Image)

The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love.
What seeds will you plant there? ~{JACK KORNFIELD}

I saw a video on youtube titled “Forgiveness and the Freedom of Letting Go” tonight and it reminded me of my journey to forgiveness.

i began to sow those seeds in 2004 and it took me five years to really get it, to literally know it and to honestly feel it. now pretty much any time something adverse happens to me, i am able to forgive faster, move through the pain or disappointment exponentially quicker, and return to living in the calm and peaceful state of a quantum nowness i have created for myself.

my mother told me very early on in life (perhaps when i was six or seven years old) that holding a grudge or a grievance was bad for one’s health (mind & body & soul), and i had practiced forgiveness of many people who had grieved me or trespassed against me. but still there were a few who were eerie ghosts fading in and out of my thoughts and others who i considered “dead to me” ~ which was one of the ways i dealt with trying to forgive, but it wasn’t really letting go.

i needed to understand that forgiveness didn’t mean i condoned what they did nor that i had to reconcile with them, and that ultimately i would have to allow myself to let go of the pain, to let go of the haunting memories and to really forgive «me». by doing this i would speed up the healing process, i would be healthier and i would truly live in the present.


Here is a letter i wrote inspired by what i was reading and contemplating (including several Wayne Dyer books) in 2004 as i started on my path and the first stage to true forgiveness:

HIGHER ENERGY 03 june 2004

Forgiveness lets others know that we no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with them.  It also frees us from the self-defeating energy / emotion of resentment, hate – which is like a venom in our body.

When we forgive ourselves, forgive others, we feel better, we are more at peace.

Everything we are against weakens us / Everything we are for strengthens us.  A weakened person will never become empowered, until the negative thoughts are removed.

For the past several years, I have been learning to stop taking everything so personally… easier to do when i don’t know the person attacking or judging me – so much more difficult when someone i know judges me.

And i am also learning to give up my past / personal history as a definition of me now… embracing the past to give me strength to transform it into song, poem, words, pictures on the big screen, if i feel the need to do so OR i throw it away.

I have also changed my mind on how i perceive certain relationships… where i once thought was ‘wrong’ with the person/relationship, i did a paradigm shift and looked at what was right or good about the relationship.  I changed my perception of it, and rather quickly – as paradigm shift often happen.

I am working towards not being resentful.  Resentment lets us turn control over and someone else can manipulate us.

When we stop resenting them and take responsibility [own it] we have a chance to control our problem, remove our problem or learn from it.  We can work towards changing us – since it’s nearly impossible to change someone else.

When we feel offended [by someone being rude, arrogant, insensitive, evil], we’re passing judgment. We allow their perceived ill conduct to control how he feel – upset or offended.

Difficult people we know can teach us lessons on how to get along with the rest of the world.  Forgiveness of people is one of the ways to align yourself with good things – since forgiving them is so personally difficult to do.

I’ve been going thru a lot right now, and practicing a positive & different approach to my life.  This point of view has helped me to understand a lot of principles i knew about from my wild, liberal, upbringing. I hope some of it might help you… if it doesn’t work for you, perhaps you’ll at least understand where i’m at right now. ~s

In 2007, i discovered that unconsciously i hadn’t really let go of the hurt, even though i had consciously and literally let go of the person. i needed to authentically forgive, and truly heal in order to move on. for several years my truths had not been the same as another’s truths and reconciling that fact helped me to transform and shift to a new paradigm.

i started the second stage of forgiveness by reading what has become my favorite book on forgiveness – FORGIVE FOR GOOD: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness by Dr. Frederic Luskin, Ph.D.recommended by my former marriage/divorce counselor and neurotherapist. This recommendation and the steps in the Forgive For Good book from the Director and Cofounder of The Stanford University Forgiveness Project are what helped me the most in cultivating forgiveness.

9 Steps to Forgiveness

1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.

2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.

3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”

4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years -ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.

5. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.

6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life , that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.

7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.

8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.

9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.

The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love. ~Dr. Fred Luskin (to contact Fred send an email to: fred@learningtoforgive.com)

here is what i wrote up in 2008 from the FORGIVE FOR GOOD book which became one of my daily mantras (& nightly meditations) and an important part of my third stage of letting go and forgiving:

*I am taking the hurts &
offenses less personally;
*I am taking responsibility for
how I feel (& not blaming anyone
else for how I feel);
*i am a hero, not a victim,
in the story I tell (I do not create grievance a story).
I am forgiving for good,
letting go & moving on.
I was hurt and I am not ashamed that I was hurt. Even though I have been wounded, I choose to hurt & suffer LESS.
I am overcoming the wounds & the disappointments of the past.
I am forgiving but I am
NOT condoning the unkind, inconsiderate or selfish behaviors
of the people who have hurt me;
NOR am I reconciling with them,
NOR am I forgetting the past.
I resolve the painful memories.
I acknowledge the past and
I move on.
Forgiving does not change the past, but it does change the present &
the future.
I am a survivor, not a victim.
I am more assertive again.
I know how and I say “no” when  my boundaries are crossed.
I trust myself more.
I am more realistic about things.
I carry no more fantasies of reconciling with the offenders.
I am making peace with a disappointing past;
I am forgiving and
there is no reason to have any further relationship with the people who have hurt me.
I am making the choice to forgive, not forget, and not give the offenders another chance,
and I am moving on to new
*healthy* & reciprocal relationships –
(29 April 2008)

practicing this “skill” of forgiveness of others and of oneself (a method that is relatively easy, when practiced) helped me change my mind, body, soul, attitude and heart. in 2009, i felt the elements begin to alchemize in my fourth stage when i admitted some deeply hidden things to myself, to some dear friends and to persons who i had felt wounded the most by.

i know – intuitively – i still am not totally at peace with my feelings of abandonment, deception, rejection and betrayal that i attributed to him which fed some longtime (childhood) fears… he wounded me and i wounded him.
i am diligently working on some final fragments of giving & accepting forgiveness with him & myself in my heart, my head, my body… because this man also was in my life for some of my truly incredible moments (good & bad ~ happy & sad ~ rich & poor).
i think that is what you “sensed” of me – saudade for love, certos momentos & alguns movimentos.
that is where i am at this moment.
thanks for sharing your insights, intuitions with me… falamos logo.

after i wrote it out for myself, emailed it to someone, and verbalized it to others, this last bit of poison came out, the wound was able to close up and allow my heart and my soul and my body to heal.

the remaining remnants of those feelings, those pains, those griefs poured away and have never returned.  yes, there might be some scar tissue, but i can’t feel it, it doesn’t hurt, and it has made those places inside me tougher and more durable.

additionally in 2009, i started the fifth stage by posting and publishing my observations, my photography and my writings on my longtime perspective of «tiny beauty» while living in urbia ~ {love & beauty are everywhere ~ take a moment, where ever you are, to contemplate our similarities and differences, and know that love & beauty are in the eye & heart of the beholder}.

i also discovered tinybuddha’s twitter feed, so i “followed” it, i retweeted it, i forwarded it (often) to friends and family, and i appreciated it.

earlier this year, i started writing about the «Big Beyond» (spirituality, cosmos, universe, consciousness, quantum theory, wholeness, metaphysics, ad infinitum, fifth state, wholeness, implicate order, quantum perception, quantum consciousness, evolved consciousness, quantum brain, quantum computer, akashic field, theory of everything, god particle, phase-conjugate quantum resonance, supra universal consciousness, collective consciousness, noosphere, singularity, omniverse, alchemy, alternative sciences, religion, paranormal, nirvana, Buddhism).

plus, i subscribed to the tinybuddha.com daily newsletter and it has become a weekday mainstay for me and a constant reminder and source of inspiration, comfort, optimism, hopefulness, words of wisdom and peace for me.

so there are the 5 stages and five years i took to plant the seeds of forgiveness which grew into the garden of allowing me to let go, to forgive and to move on. nowadays, i continue to harvest and reap the rewards of forgiveness as i nurture and sustain my zen garden of tranquility and happiness ad infinitum.

here is the link to the youtube video i mentioned at the beginning of this article post that inspired me to open up and share all this tonight~sb

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11 responses to “W.O.W.~5 stages of {letting go and} forgiving

  1. PS-one of my favorite & apropos Tiny Buddha posts –
    Tiny Wisdom: On Yesterday
    “Letting go of the past means that can you enjoy the dream that is happening right now.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

    If you’re lost in your head, rehashing or obsessing, you miss all the little things that make life feel full and satisfying. You don’t notice the small gestures that show people love you; they seem like everyday courtesies that don’t warrant consideration. You don’t acknowledge the trees and flowers that make your space beautiful; they fade into your peripheral vision like part of the furniture. The little things are the big things. Happiness is paying attention. Give yourself permission to let go of everything that stands in the way of life’s tiny beauties. MORE… http://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-on-yesterday/

  2. What an uplifting read, I am inspired to run out and get the book to take with me on an upcoming trip that will end in an arena where forgiveness needs so desperately to be addressed. The video that accompanied the article so soothing, forgiveness truely does lead to Joy and Peace within.
    So often, I have been told “I can never forget or forgive”. How revealing that what has been apparent to me for so many years this article re-enforces , forgiving doesn’t require forgetting. Forgiveness not only allows for us to move forward and not remain planted in the painfulness of the past but to also break the patterns and transfer of hardness and resentment that comes from unforgiveness from one generation to another.
    Forgivenss provides and opening for us to all shout joyful praises during this season of Thanksgiving.

    • thanks for sharing wendy. i hope you do run out and get the book FORGIVE FOR GOOD. Funny as my sister elizabeth buys copies of this book over and over, because she inevitably meets people she thinks need it more than her at the moment so she gives them her own personal copy. i dogeared pages, highlighted passages, and annotated so much in my book, it looks rather tattered – but i still go back an re-read pieces and fragments of it as necessary to remind myself. i also memorized so much of it when i was doing my daily mantras and nightly meditations.

      i look forward to discussing it with you as you read through; perhaps over another bossa nova dinner at your place soon!?


  3. i really like this:
    “The chemist who can extract from his heart’s elements: compassion, respect, longing, patience, regret, surprise, and forgiveness and compound them into one – can create that atom which is called love.” ~Kahlil Gibran~
    «and therein becomes alchemy~sb»

  4. POST SCRIPT: I am getting a lot of personal and heartfelt feedback in emails, i am glad that my writing speaks to so many people and that it can hopefully be helpful for them. I encourage people to go out and buy the book as soon as possible. here is a link to where to buy the book – http://learningtoforgive.com/tools/
    I am not one to generally ascribe to the wisdom professed in self-help books, but “Forgive For Good” reads more like a primer. Dr. Luskin writes clearly and objectively, and reiterates the basic principles over and over but in new ways that are meaningful and applicable to each chapter.
    As the concepts and skills are outlined in the book and the information progresses, so does the understanding of the underlying emotional and subjective complexity of forgiveness YET he goes back to the basic objective of how to break the cycle of carrying a grievance or holding a grudge.
    I just practiced and reminded myself often of his first few steps and after a year, I was able to move on to the H.E.A.L. process, which really helped me to minimize the impact of many potentially longterm painful things – I don’t even let them manifest and I don’t suffer much anymore.
    Another book i read that year, which supplemented and magnified Dr Luskin’s prescription for happiness, was “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
    Both these books were like homework to me and I studied them and highlighted them and took notes. Ruiz’s book was more spiritual and more “soul work” which balanced the mind work of Forgive For Good. (I also worked my body by starting a light exercise program after several years of being partially disabled from a foot/leg injury of 2004.)
    Interestingly enough, both books had similar concepts but from different angles for healing & strengthening the mind and the spirit.
    I would encourage people to start with the book by Frederic Luskin PhD., that is part of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, because it doesn’t require soul searching, just plain simple steps to break the cycle of pain. I thought it apropos it is subtitled about being “A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness!” ~ sb

  5. Pingback: BONUS P.O.V. on W.O.W.~5 stages of {letting go and} forgiving « sarah nean bruce ~ living in urbia·

  6. although i have known receiving is good too (which means allowing people to give to me), i have only recently put into practice this aspect of reciprocity, and let these generous people experience the joyous feeling of giving to me that i experienced when i gave to them & others. i am able to accept gifts of abundance without protesting or feeling unworthy or thinking i have to immediately give something to that person in return. over the years i practiced “pay it forward” & that power is also part of our universe of reciprocity and my path of forgiveness and my journey of self-acceptance ~ sb

  7. Pingback: memoirs_still in my hideaway, ghostly dreams « sarah nean bruce ~ living in urbia…·

  8. Pingback: READ_marvelous article reminding me of my ongoing journey | Tiny Buddha « sarah nean bruce ~ living in urbia…·

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