I listen to a lot of podcasts, some of which move me very deeply, some that just make me laugh. I want to share with you a few of my favorite individual podcast episodes in a series. The first one I listed was on meditation. This second one is on forgiveness.
I am struggling to forgive someone, who I can’t talk to, for something seemingly unforgivable. I am grieving the loss of my cousin, Roy, who took his own life in tragic circumstances that will leave his family scarred.
Listening to this podcast and experiencing my feelings has lead me to a realization: lack of forgiveness is one of the main things wrong with society. I am forgiving Roy and I aim to be a forgiving person. I learned what forgiveness is, why it is important, and how to do it from listening to this podcast. I included my notes for you, too. Listen to the podcast first. My notes are quickly drawn up and unedited.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Nelson Mandela.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is giving up resentment. It does not rule out anger or the need for grief. It means not being a victim to your blame and anger. Forgiveness is not enabling someone to avoid accountability. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves so we don’t suffer.
Why is it good to forgive?
Although righteous anger can be a pleasurable feeling, anger (like stress) is bad for our health and puts us at risk for anxiety, depression, and cardiac issues. Anger and stress hormones (adrenaline, cortosol, noroepinephrine) impair your ability to problem solve and think creatively. Holding a grudge results in bad health & unhappiness, in heart attacks, or addiction. (…I have seen this firsthand…)
How do we forgive?
- Really severe offenses require grieving. You have to allow yourself to feel your feelings. “What you resist persists” Rumi: “The only cure for the pain is the pain”
- Develop an empathy or understanding for why the person did what they did. Being accountable for your own mistakes helps develop empathy.
- Remind yourself that you are not alone in your experience. Connect with people who have experienced the same transgression.
- Forgive ourselves for our part in it.
- Getting an apology with remorse from the person is helpful, but not necessary. You may not reconcile with the person, reconciliation is not the goal of forgiveness, they are independent of one another.
On Relationships (conflict intimacy/ability to deal with disagreements):
Once you enter the adrenal response, stop talking and remove yourself.
Repair moves are statements that show that you’re listening or moving toward connection, understanding, and resolution as opposed to shutting someone out and being defensive. Ex) “I hear you”, “Can you explain that” (…I shut people out. I can improve my conflict resolution tactics…)
On Letting go:
Give up the attachment/right to a different past. Because we can’t change it. “Letting go” values your wellbeing and your future over your past.
As I grieve I’ve been listening to these 2 songs on repeat:
Florence + The Machine: Long & Lost
This makes me think about how remorseful Roy’s spirit must feel. This is about struggling to forgive.
Here’s a snippit of me dancing to the song….this is what I did to practice “The only cure for the pain is the pain.” I danced. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t a performance. It was an exercise in allowing myself to feel.
Sometimes when I listen I imagine I’m the one on the phone talking to Roy, maybe from the perspective of Stacey, Miranda, his kids, or myself….usually in the future. And recently I listen to it the other way around. Roy is trying to make contact but everyone is happy and doing well so they can’t respond.
I went home to be with my family. It was much needed.
That’s Roy on the left in 2013 and on the right is a group hug with his daughter and neice after his memorial.
This post is about forgiveness, not about my story. I’m just explaining why these ideas resonate so much with me at this moment.