on forgiveness

A few years ago at a yoga retreat I attended in Tulum, Mexico, one of the participants was inspired to create a special memory for each of us in the group. Towards the end of our time together, she asked everyone to write down two positive, memorable qualities about every person there.  A couple of weeks later, we each received a personalized card that listed those qualities.

I thought of this card a few days ago as I was on my way to visit a close family member with whom I’d been experiencing some tension. Or, more accurately put – I was feeling some major hostility and was very distressed that, no matter how much I thought I’d forgiven the (perceived) wrongdoings of the past, resentment had reared its ugly head. Yet again. With a vengeance.

In the days prior to this, I’d felt drained and depressed.  The same old conversations and injustices replayed in my head, as they’d done for so long, in a seemingly never-ending loop.

Why could I not surrender, once and for all, into lasting forgiveness? Shouldn’t ‘forgiveness’ – if it’s true and authentic – be a one-time deal? How can we decide one day that we’ve forgiven, and change our mind the next?

The morning of our visit, I thought, ‘I’m a slave to my anger’.  Immediately I felt the wrongness, the off-ness, in that thought.  That’s when my friend’s card popped into my head.  I remembered all those beautiful words used to describe me…my fellow yogis’ impressions of me.

There is a tendency, when other people are being kind or pointing out our positive traits, to resist.  We deflect, we brush it off, we think there is some ulterior motive.

Or we think they’re wrong, that we’re an imposter.  That we’re not worthy of it.  They don’t know the real me.

In remembering that card, some part of me – my spirit, my soul – was showing me what is, in fact, ‘real’. It was showing me that others see in me what I often cannot see in myself.

We get so caught up in our limiting self-definitions that our perception of who we are becomes totally skewed and distorted.  We box ourselves into unbearable constriction and pain.  Internally describing myself as a ‘slave to my anger’ was so disheartening that I was prompted to remember, and draw strength from, those elevating words. To trust them.  To allow a greater vision of myself.

Sometimes we feel a sense of power in withholding forgiveness.  It gives us a charge, or makes us feel like we’re in control.  But how can something so ‘powerful’ be so draining and painful? It’s a false power.

It’s getting too hard for my physical vessel to house anger and tired old resentments.  This doesn’t mean I negate my emotions, or suppress the anger that is temporary and useful to feel/express.  It means releasing the stagnant, hardened energy that keeps everyone locked in a state where no one can truly expand and be free.  It releases others (and ourselves) from the grip of our impossible standards of perfection.

I think about all the positive (Abraham Hicks) stuff I write about, and sometimes – often – I couldn’t feel further from that feel-good state.  The process of becoming lighter – more aligned with spirit, with love – can feel like the complete opposite.  Like going to the depths of extremely unpleasant emotions, unearthing them, and pushing them out.  Phew.

But then…a levelling off occurs. Something settles, and we are in a new space, with a new vantage point. Setting the stage for the next wave of expansion.

***

I want to thank my friend AM for having the generousity of heart to create those cards.  Mine showed me the kind of woman I want to be.  And it is the woman others see in me.

There is real power in that woman.  That woman is capable of forgiving, once and for all.

51 thoughts on “on forgiveness

  1. I appreciate & enjoy your honesty. The candour with which you share your life’s journey is something I relate to. Blessing to you lovely lady. Are you coming to ICDI Vancouver?

    Like

    • thank you for your kind words, lisa. ❤ not sure about ICDI – it depends on the finances hehe. i really want to come and it would be so great to meet up with you in person! i'll keep you posted. have a lovely day.

      Like

  2. It has helped me greatly in the past few years to search myself when I am so upset with someone else. Almost always I find that I am most upset with that trait or behavior in myself.

    Like

    • it’s so true…others are usually showing us our own selves. funny how we just can’t see it most of the time – and then – it becomes so obvious! thank you for commenting.

      Like

  3. Your feelings are so easy to relate to! And all of these comments are so wonderful – what a great conversation you started. Thanks! At a yoga training recently we did the same exercise, it was eye opening for me to read how others see me. Something new for me was to be seen as motherly and wise… but I was the oldest student in the training probably by 15 years so that could have had something to do with it! But I also realized my energy has changed over the years. Sometimes we get stuck thinking of ourselves in a particular time or place in our lives when in actuality we have moved on to somewhere else. It helps to have other people around to remind you of that or open your eyes to it.

    Like

    • reading your comment just reminded me of another mini yoga retreat i was part of, where we did something called an ‘angel walk’ at the end – similar idea, where others shared their impressions of us. as you say, we get stuck in thinking we’re at the same place we were at a different time…and there is such value in having relative ‘strangers’ tell us what they see…because it’s often a more accurate perception of who we have become! our gifts can be seen so easily by people we don’t have a past connection to. thank you for being part of this conversation. 🙂 aleya

      Like

  4. I needed to hear this! Thank you so much for your wise words of experience. It is so eacy sometimes for us to stay in habits of self sabotage with our thoughts and emotions. I love your very honestly shared thoughts here and find that they have helped me greatly today.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with the blogging world!

    Like

    • i am so glad to know this post helped you. i love that we are always getting the messages and assistance we need. blogging is so great for sharing our experiences, and knowing that so many of us are going through similar things. thank you for your comment! namaste, aleya

      Like

  5. I love this. What a great idea the woman at your retreat had. That’s beautiful. I love what you’re saying too about expanding the vision we have of ourselves by hearing what others say about us. Often we hear that we shouldn’t care what other people think, but sometimes hearing what others think can be empowering and it allows us to expand our definition of ourselves.

    This perspective of forgiveness is also perfect. I struggle sometimes with allowing myself to forgive but you’re exactly right, it’s a false power that needs to be released.

    Thank you for the insight Aleya.

    Like

    • i had no idea how powerful those cards would be! it’s been 3.5 years and i’ve lived in several different places since, but the card always travels with me and surfaces at just the right time. and yes, it’s true that most of the time i’m trying to tune the voices of others out – lol – but then, we also need each other to remind us of who we are. thank you for your thoughtful comments…so glad i discovered your blog yesterday! ❤ aleya

      Like

  6. I’m sorry I missed this post, sweets… thank you for checking up on my posts and made me walk towards yours…

    “I’m a slave to my anger”… these are powerful words (funny, we seem to be using ‘power’ a lot, huh?). I need this as a reminder. We all have our hidden demons inside us that gnaws sneakily. We don’t seem to notice until the person is right in front of us. I need this as a reminder…
    I said that already. haha…

    The irony of forgiveness is that we are not exactly forgiving them. It is more about forgiving ourselves first… then the rest simply falls into place. xo

    Like

    • don’t be sorry, it’s WP’s fault you missed it, something bizarre happened with this post and it didn’t publish.

      they are powerful words, and not ones i wish to uphold anymore. and you’re right, the thing about those sneaky beliefs is that they become our normal, running our lives, underneath the surface. that’s the scary part. so it is good when something big puts them in our face. only now we have to do something about it! 😉

      thank you! ❤ and xo.

      Like

  7. I went through a “forgiveness” phase a couple years ago (like a massive purge period in my life). An important piece to forgiving others is to also forgive ourselves. If we don’t, then the self-talk becomes harsh, “why did I think that? Why can’t I do this or that? Why am I like this?” And on and on. Forgiving myself, I found forgiving others a lot easier because I forgave myself for feeling that way about those people. It’s the ‘what you resist, persists’ thing: Don’t resist forgiving yourself otherwise the guilt (and other negative feelings) just persist.

    But like everything else, it takes practice. It’s a journey. Something I continue to work on in the face of new challenges that arise.

    Great post, Aleya.

    Like

    • that is such an important point, michael – we can’t beat ourselves up for feeling the way we do. we need our own compassion first and foremost. thank you for this reminder, and for your always-thoughtful comments. namaste, aleya

      Like

  8. The power of authenticity! Don’t forget that. I’m so proud of you and the bravery in this post. I’m so sorry I didn’t read it sooner. You’re right, of course. I have the same issue…what some see in me I search for. I don’t see myself in the same light. That’s the struggle though.

    I see it in you my friend. Much love and appreciation for you. Love Arifah

    Like

    • thank you my dear. ❤ you never have to apologize for not reading…i know it's hard to keep up! that said, i always love reading your comments, hehe. i'm letting authenticity be the guiding theme of my life, and the journey is quite intense at times. lots of love, aleya

      Like

    • thank you margarita – every time i read your posts i think yes, me too!! forgiveness is a process, it’s like waves and i’m learning to ride them without getting knocked over when things feel intense. thank you, aleya

      Like

  9. I couldn’t have said it better myself! I had the same problem with my sister last year and I realized I had to just let her be and live my life. She means well, but she’s very condescending and I have to take everything she says with a grain of salt.

    Like

  10. Ah yes~ Knowing that forgiveness is about me releasing perceived wrongs, I still have a hard time doing it. I think I want to forgive, and sometimes I think I have…then here comes anger over the perceived wrong. I stink at forgiving. Will I ever learn?

    Like

    • it’s not easy because the ego is always at work- so even if we are willing to forgive and want to and even feel it, the ego constantly reminds us why we shouldn’t. that’s my take on it. it means holding steady to love in those moments where we’re feeling the anger, resentment etc. argh but that’s the thing – in those states, it is hard to find the love, the high-flying disc! eventually we get there… ❤ love ya

      Like

  11. For some reason this did not show up in my reader, but I am so glad I found it!

    Why could I not surrender, once and for all, into lasting forgiveness? Shouldn’t ‘forgiveness’ – if it’s true and authentic – be a one-time deal? How can we decide one day that we’ve forgiven, and change our mind the next?

    This really speaks to me Aleya. I often get angry again about something or someone that I already forgave. I remember doing the work and here it is again. I do not have all the answers but it seems that existence is cyclic in nature and so are our reactions to people places and events. The goal for me is to be as peaceful and present as possible with each spin of the wheel.

    xx Linda

    Like

    • thanks linda. there were some major WP glitches with publishing this post so it didn’t show up in some readers. i’m glad you found it too, and that it spoke to you. i feel the same as you. instead of getting discouraged when those waves of anger come in i just try to breathe, be present, and not be hard on myself and think i’m going backwards. it’s just part of it, and eventually the other side of relief comes. but my ego/body tricks me because i feel it so viscerally! have a wonderful day. xo.

      Like

  12. “Anger is so tempting
    Anger is so sweet
    Promises consolation
    Entices wild drumming beats.

    Who wouldn’t want to be its friend
    It promises release
    If you only listened
    You would hear its tease.”

    and then I stopped 🙂 It’s the only poem I started and never finished but kept it… Anger is veeery tempting and forgiveness can feel really scary, almost like betraying oneself, like not letting it indulge in being a victim and the one who is right. But anger is such an energy drainer, and sooo toxic when suppressed or let too loose, I can feel its destructive power in every cell of my body. Still it feels good sometimes 🙂 It’s an addictive emotion… xox

    p.s. I saw you reading Tim Ferris, I love that guy, he is crazy but smart

    Like

    • thank you! anger is the rush, the surge, and ya it does feel good sometimes! but it’s a fine line, and discerning that line (for me) comes with time. anger is better than lethargy and depression (which could be suppressed anger)…at least it makes one feel alive…but staying there too long is obviously not a good thing. i see it as a bridge. alerting us to something, to take us to another state. i can also feel its destructive power, more than i used to, and i’m thankful for that because i know something needs to move. ❤

      Like

  13. I finished reading this at 11:11 am and smiled. Thank you once again for reminding me that I will always dip into darkness for contrast. I keep forgetting! I think the reflections that other give us point us in the direction of self love.

    Like

    • absolutely. we need the contrast, otherwise life would be very boring indeed. and i think once we experience the feel-good states more often, the darkness feels especially intolerable. i find it’s very intense but it moves through quicker. i’m learning to just ride it out and know ‘this too shall pass’. and when i’m on a high-flying disc, i really ride it! lol. love ya. xo

      Like

  14. I love this post and resonated with it too… life keeps showing us that we need to love ourself… Forgiveness to me is the message from our divine self to our human self… telling us that everything is ok and to continue going with the flow… Barbara

    Like

    • thank you, barbara. i love the way you worded that. our ego gets so challenged by forgiveness but it comes to the point where it’s just too painful to keep ourselves in the prison of the past. when i’m in resentment i can’t see the bigger picture and the bigger picture is so much more. ❤ aleya

      Like

  15. I love this x it resonated so much – can’t believe the similarity with some of what I’ve just posted either – it’s quite funny! – but poignant, I need to remember all those lovely things that other people see too and I’m not just my anger or resentments or all the things that feel so yucky – there is oh so much more, and it all has power x thank you for sharing :0 xxx

    Like

    • the similarity is sweeeet! lol. just shows that we’re all going through this process of expansion and yes some bits are sticky but we need them to really appreciate where we want to be. and all this is part of the journey to getting there, and spending longer periods of time in our natural state. i’m reading this great book called ‘the 4-hr workweek’ by timothy ferriss. it’s really clarifying how much i’ve bought into ideas about work and life and what i’ve been creating by default. it’s a real kick in the pants. it’s fun and inspiring to read what others have done to really move their life in a whole new direction. xo aleya.

      Like

please share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s