Forgiveness is letting go.
A mantra I’ve heard throughout life is “forgive, but never forget.”
It’s usually said by someone who has been wronged in some way, and they are trying to take the highroad and forgive someone for hurting them, while they are refusing to let it go.
The person is usually trying to protect themselves by holding onto it. They’re like, “if I don’t forget what happened, then I can prevent it from happening again.”
I’ve been there.
For me, it created a sense of control. When I was going through a tough time, I had someone introduce a mantra to me called the ho‘oponopono prayer: [I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.] I felt so resistant to it. I was saying the words, but not feeling any healing.
For anyone that grew up in church, you might have heard the message that we need to ask God for forgiveness. While to some people this makes sense, for me, it bred a feeling that I was constantly doing something wrong.
After years of anxiously asking God for forgiveness, the negative connotation around forgiveness got worse. To the point of wanting to avoid it altogether.
What if the word ‘forgive’ and the word ‘forget’ were synonymous?
Forgiving someone or something feels like a “holier than thou” action. Forgetting something means truly letting it go and accepting what happened and moving forward.
The second I realized that forgiveness could just mean letting something go, it was as if I unlocked the door that was keeping me stuck.
Stuck was my middle name for a little while. I had myself stuck in thoughts and patterns that I couldn’t understand. And it felt isolating. The person that was keeping me stuck was me.
That’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who was reading self-help books, but I say it with so much grace. Truthfully, I needed everything to crumble at once for me to finally get that I was building a life out of fear and external validation. Forgiveness is what ultimately set me free. And not someone else forgiving me. Me forgiving me and my past experiences.
I considered myself a forgiving person until I realized it was about letting things go.I couldn’t let go of things and that shit was heavy.
I finally took a weekend to myself in Ellicottville (shout out to my friend Ang for making me do that) and read books, meditated, and journaled.
I made a list of all the things I couldn’t let go of in my life. And let me tell you, I filled pages and pages and pages.
I wasn’t actively holding grudges towards myself or other people. It was little memories and moments that took up space in my mind and created a ton of shame and heartache. Once I got it all out on paper, I saw just how unforgiving I was.
I was left in a puddle. A hot mess if you will. But I was finally hearing myself and the torment I was living internally day after day.
My life crumbled like this.
Years of reading self-help and working too many side hustles and a full-time job. Moved apartments. Burnt out. Read Untamed. Went to Ellicottville alone. Read a Return to Love and wrote my forgiveness list. Things got better. Then worse. Went through a breakup. Moved out. Became present AF. Left side hustles. Cried a lot. Apologized to my friends for not being there for them because I had to be there for me.
For once, I wasn’t abandoning myself to make other people feel loved and supported. I was taking all the time I had outside of my 40 hours of work a week to make myself feel loved and supported.
Letting go isn’t about forgiving anyone else. It’s not about seeking forgiveness from God. It’s not about your friends forgiving you. It’s about forgiving yourself and the thoughts you have about those around you.
Because even if someone hurt you in the past, you are the one reliving it daily. You’re the one projecting that story onto other people to avoid being hurt again. And that’s okay, because that’s human, but the sooner you recognize it, the sooner you set yourself free.
Please know that some things are too big to forgive on your own. Counselors and coaches really help. Start with the small things and know that you are doing a good job.
Think about something you think of regularly that is holding you back. It seems minor, but you think about it once a week at a minimum. That is not something that will go away after one time of recognizing it and trying to let it go. That’s a pattern. So it’ll take some time. Be patient with yourself and show it a little love and light. Observe what happens.
This led to my awakening. I hope it helps you too.
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