We were out in the middle of the beautiful (cold, wet and muddy!) English countryside, sleeping in a yurt and really getting back to basics. This weekend I was running one of my retreats for delegates on my 13 month spiritual empowerment programme.

These weekends allow us to be pretty much get away from technology – they allow us the time and ability to connect our brains back down to our hearts. We neglect that so much in western society – head/heart disconnect is endemic.

Not only that, but we get to come together as tribe of agenda-free people all taking on similar teachings – and that means we go deep. Really deep.

On one of our talking stick rounds, where we all get the chance to speak from the heart and be heard without interruption, we started to talk about forgiveness.

It’s such a simple word, isn’t it? And yet it’s steeped in distortion.

Forgiveness has become so corrupted by religious doctrine, by drama, by victim-mentalities that we’ve forgotten what it really means.

Forgiveness has become a tool to wield against those for whom we hold hatred, anger and bitterness; it’s become horridly tangled with guilt AND it’s become a celise for so many of us drowning in our own pity and self-loathing.

The Oxford English Dictionary has this explanation of the word ‘Forgive’:

VERB: forgave, forgiven

Stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.

‘I’ll never forgive David for the way he treated her’.

And that’s precisely where we’re going wrong. We’re making forgiveness all about other people when, in reality, it has sweet F A to do with other people and EVERYTHING to do with US as individuals.

Look at the dictionary’s words: “I’ll never forgive David for the way he treated her.”

Really? How is that helping anything? You think that staying pissed off with David will hurt him in any way OR take away whatever he did to ‘her’? No!

The only thing holding on to that kind of negative emotion will do is rot your own heart.

Yay! Go You! Nice work!

It’s what we do though, isn’t it? We go around waving these angry words, with forgiveness right at the centre….

“I won’t forgive you for that!”

“What you did is unforgiveable!”

Etc, etc, etc. We’re stepping right into judgement and using ‘The F Word’ as a baton to beat people with. And here are the issues with that:

  1. Who died and made YOU God? (Feel free to insert your own deity here!)
  2. The only person you’re beating with that baton is yourself.

Remember that old adage about drinking poison in the hope that it kills someone else? Yeah, that’s what using ‘forgiveness’ in this way does.

And what about the reverse? All those people stuck in remorse, not allowing themselves to move forward until some apparently injured third party steps forward to gently press lips to their brow and utter those words “I forgive you”. Gah!

Again, we’re missing the point!

If you’ve done something to hurt someone else, intentionally or not, sure, do all you can to make things better, but please, please stop wallowing in some putrid swamp of self pity waiting for someone else to make your life all good and better.

You want to make a difference? You want to put things right? You want to ‘atone’? That’s up to you. If people manage to find the way to settle things in their own heart after your actions, that’s all well and good – that’s something beautiful to treasure and be in gratitude for, but you CANNOT do anything positive by just sinking down into negative emotions in the hope that some day you’ll be forgiven. Get off your ass and do something positive with your life instead.

Whichever side of the forgiveness line you’re stagnating on, it’s time to remember that forgiveness really means settling things in our own heart, mind and spirit. And you cannot do that until you let go of whatever bitterness, hurt, anger, resentment or other less than pleasant states you’re holding onto. We all need to stop making forgiveness about ‘them’ and start focusing on ‘us’.

Remember how awesome it feels to hold onto that anger and bitterness, the way all that acid swirls around in the pit of your stomach and makes you feel on top of the world? No! Neither do I!

Until next time,