Nothing has challenged me more than forgiveness. It is something you can’t make happen, or logically contrive when it will happen.
Forgiveness is a transformational journey that repairs the separation from love. Each step along the way is a miracle, a true blossoming of the sacred medicine of the heart.
To grow the flower of forgiveness we must be willing to face love in all its stages.
You know you’re in need of forgiveness when your hurt feelings are suffocating your spirit and holding back your capacity for growth. You know you are ready for forgiveness when your heart calls to you and says “It’s time to come home”.
Liberate yourself with the 8 stages of forgiveness and witness the wings of your love take flight.
8 Stages of Forgiveness
1. The Incident
The incident is ‘the thing’ that happens that creates the need for forgiveness. It is the moment where you separate yourself from the awareness of love. The incident can be as simple as someone cutting you off in traffic, it can be as deep as sexual abuse, or it could be something someone said that hurt your feelings. It is a moment, or series of moments, that rips your sense of connection to shreds and leaves you traumatized in some subtle or swooping way.
What incident, or incidences, happened that created trauma for you?
When something happens we don’t always realize we’re traumatized. We can go straight into a fight or flight response and get swept away by our reactions rather than actually being aware that healing is needed. In order for the seeds of forgiveness to begin to take root there must be an awareness that something isn’t right, we’re off in some way, we’ve lost our ability to love freely and it hurts.
Where is your love not flowing freely?
3. Create Safety with Sacred Space
Trauma flings us far from home. Forgiveness is a form of healing that calls us to return to love and find our way home again. The journey back to love isn’t always graceful or pretty. It requires a safe, sacred space to allow the hurt, the anger, the upset, and the fear to be expressed and processed without judgement, and without fear of being re-traumatized, or hurting someone else in the process. A safe, sacred space can be as simple as a private journal that is just for you to say whatever you want. It could also be a place you go to where you feel safe such as a special trail in the forest, a beach, a special room in your home, or a therapist.
How can you create a safe, sacred space for yourself?
4. Honor your feelings
Your feelings are the map on the journey home. You must honor how you truly feel if you’re going to find your way home. If you edit, down-play, sugar-coat or pretend you feel other than you actually do, you will find yourself in a never-ending loop, because you are not actually allowing the energy to move, you’re just spinning in denial. Trauma creates feelings. To heal from trauma and invite the possibility of forgiveness you must give your feelings the chance to be heard, acknowledged, expressed, respected, and honored for the guidance and depth of insight they offer. If feelings are not honored and processed, they will repeat again and again in order to get your attention.
What do you really feel?
5. Practice Self Love
When things happen in our lives that separate us from love, we experience the ugliest versions of our ourselves and others. On the journey home to love, we will surely face these ugly expressions, our hate, our rage, our petty nit-picking, our disgust, and our outright disrespect. With a safe, sacred space you can begin to process these darker emotions and honor their expression and the gifts they offer. But ultimately it is your ability to love yourself that will even give us the chance to embrace the possibility of healing.
The practice of self-love is the foundation for healing, it is the soil that holds you in the womb of transformation. If you love yourself, you will want to heal. If you love yourself you will not tolerate the prison that hate creates. Your self-love is the healing balm that starts to soothe the trauma.
How can you practice self-love?
There is a moment in the healing process of forgiveness where your self-love starts to stretch and grow and the most unlikely realization blazes before you. You realize loving yourself is all-encompassing. This means you can no longer live with the hate that is poisoning your potential. You realize you can no longer withhold your love from certain places because it starts to suffocate your spirit.
The moment you realize your love can not be bound by limitations is a turning point in the process of forgiveness, because it is truly the first moment where you authentically feel the desire to consider releasing the other person from the chains of the past because you realize holding on to the pain is hurting you.
Can you see hating another hurts you? Can you recognize that withholding your love from another withholds love from you?
7. Sacred Space for the other
Once the willingness to consider forgiveness has truly set in, a chain of events is put in motion. Suddenly the other person, or the incident, has a place of possibility, a place that is not about being traumatized, but a possibility for healing, for love and transformation. Creating a sacred space to start to see the other and their experience of the incident. This doesn’t mean you have to physically be with the other person in a particular space, but you can imagine them. Imagine the other person in a safe, sacred space expressing their truth. What are they thinking and feeling? What state of being are they in during this incident?
How could you create a sacred space within your love to perceive and understand the other person?
8. See through the eyes of love
Practice seeing yourself as love sees you, and practice seeing the other as love sees them. Once you are able to see and perceive yourself and the other through the eyes of love, you know you have found your way home, you have returned to love, the journey of forgiveness has happened. You are home. You are no longer separate from love, you are love. From a place of love forgiveness is not even an effort, it is not even a need, or a thought. It is simply a place from which you perceive an experience as a transformational journey. You are the butterfly who has discovered it has wings and nothing holds back the vast capacity of your beauty. You are free to fly liberated by the wings of love.
How does love see you? How does love see the other? How does love perceive this experience?
Forgiveness is the transformational journey that heals your separation from love and guides you home to your heart.
Forgiveness is not about anyone getting away with anything. It is about opening ourselves to see ourselves, others and the world through the eyes of love. From love’s perspective there are always gifts, treasures and a bounty of beauty encoded within every experience. Our job, through the practice of forgiveness, is to open our hearts to the unlimited bounty of love.
When you are home in your heart anything is possible!
Is there someone you need to forgive?
Try these 8 stages and take the time you need to make each stage real and authentic so they naturally evolve into the next stage. There is no need to push the process. Trust yourself and know each stage you experience is a feather that forms your wings!
I’d love to hear of your experience! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Liberate yourself and someone you know. Share the 8 Stages of Forgiveness with your special friends.