I Don’t Believe in Forgiveness: Tales of Semantics and Letting Go
By Coach Kat, Nov. 19, 2019, copyright Bronwyn Katdaré 2019
Forgiveness is good for the soul. But what about what when the act of forgiving leaves you feeling bitter and vulnerable to attack?
Ah, yes, my friends, that is how deeply I do not believe in forgiveness. Well, in the word “forgiveness” itself. I love words. I love grammar. I love phonics and reading and the very act of writing by hand. I’m one of “those” people.
You see, to me, forgiveness conjures up memories of being very timid, a doormat, one to say, “It’s OK” whenever someone apologizes (even if half-assed). I was taught to say, “It’s OK” but it never felt “OK.” In fact, it hurt me or scared me, and sometimes even scarred me.
I’ve read books on forgiveness. I’ve journaled. I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve done the visualization exercise of putting anger and hurt in a balloon and letting it float away. The journaling and balloon exercise helped. Still, it’s the word that gets me. So, being a logophile, I decided to ditch the word “forgiveness” and instead use a phrase that comes to me when I put words on paper or bundle my emotions into a balloon to set aloft. That phrase is “Letting Go.”
Letting Go is basic. If you pick up a hot potato, you let go of it – you drop it like a hot potato! You let go of that visualized balloon’s string. Letting Go allows you to dump the anger, resentment, and victim mentality of “Why me?” when you start to remember being treated unfairly or unkindly. Letting Go is not passive. Letting Go is active because it involves both acceptance and resilience.
Letting Go does not cause conflict in me. It neither says, “It’s OK” nor “No, it’s not OK.” What Letting Go has done is nudge me to change my underlying thoughts (my therapist would be so proud). Without flipping those underlying thoughts, I would be carrying around a steamer-trunk of baggage, bitterness, and beliefs that do not serve my highest good or the highest good of anyone around me.
Now, I’m not saying if you change your thoughts, your life will immediately change. You have to believe your new thoughts, which is simple but not easy. Let’s look at some ways to begin Letting Go.
First, acknowledge the hurt. Give yourself permission to FEEL. Name the emotions you are feeling; grapple with them if you must but do feel them. Do not deny yourself the ability to feel, whether it is anger, frustration, sadness, or vulnerability. It’s all valid and it’s all of value.
Next, just notice your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them. You are the creator of your own thoughts and feelings. Because your thoughts cause your feelings, you can create a new story. By reworking thoughts and feelings, you can imagine and construct a story that builds the benefits of the situation so you discover new opportunities for your light to shine.
Third, do this for yourself and make it unconditional. You, yourself, are worth Letting Go of that steamer-trunk! You do not have to let go in order to satisfy your family, colleagues, significant other, your religion, or your community. To do so would negate the positive effects of Letting Go. Also, there is no need to wait for your transgressor to apologize; doing so may have you waiting for eternity. It also puts the other person in control. Believe that you, your health, and your spirit are important enough to do this!
Finally, do not zip through this process. It takes time to unravel a wound, but time does heal all wounds. Proceed at your own pace and work consistently on Letting Go. Soon enough, you will feel a shift from the heaviness of burdens to the peacefulness found in compassion. I read somewhere that true forgiveness is recognizing there is nothing to forgive. This is “the shift” in action.
If these views resonate with you or your circumstances or if you have questions about how health coaching may be of help to you, please contact Bronwyn through her website or make an appointment at https://www.coachkathealth.com/services-page .
(Bronwyn Katdaré is a certified plant-based holistic health coach, specializing in lifestyle and functional medicine. She is a Shamanic practitioner, a level II Usui Reiki practitioner, and a facilitator of other energy-healing modalities. Bronwyn is a faculty intern with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and a graduate of the FSS Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing. She is also interested in quantum physics, astrophysics, transpersonal psychology, and ecopsychology).