An act of self-love


Forgiveness is one of the quintessential linchpins for a happy, healthy and integrated personality. The vast majority of people do not even know the meaning of the word forgiveness. It means literally to be “for giving” something away. It is an act one does with oneself…not with another. One person cannot forgive another! That is the other person’s task. Obviously it is very difficult to give up a long held, deeply imbedded emotion such as fear, anger or revenge, etc. Usually the emotion is entangled and ensnared in all sorts of justifications, excuses, defenses, habits, addictions, etc. The pathway to love is forgiveness. Forgiveness dissolves resentments and jealousies, etc. Reluctance to let go of fear keeps people “stuck”, alienated from experiencing the present moment, and fully living life. If we learn to continually practice forgiveness we see each other and ourselves as blameless. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in our struggle to transcend “the blame and shame game”.

Forgiveness is the solvent that we need to work through our “unfinished business” and to begin releasing our pain and letting the vulnerable part of ourselves shine forth. Relaxing body-mind therapies, including hypnosis, are an excellent adjunct to a successful “for giving”. Many of the memories that reinforce the dysfunctional behaviour that emotionally paralyzes the individual cannot be released without a very well balanced intervention which includes focussing, concentration and deep relaxation. Many hypnosis clients, for example, will report a “body shift” taking place when they get “unstuck” from a particularly painful memory or complex.

A word of warning comes from Alice Miller, the author of the book, “Banished Knowledge”. She believes that we are all emotionally whole when we are very young and, through the influence of our parents, schools, churches, etc. we are banished from self-knowledge. It is then our job to re-member our whole selves again. She asks us to beware and to be aware of “pre-mature forgiveness”. She believes we can irretrievably hurt ourselves by “for giving” some aspect of ourselves before the time is right and the feelings are ready. For example, a client who has been sexually abused as a child by a parent, and who has a strong desire and hope to have a “redeemed parent”, may attempt to please and excuse that parent rather than clearly state their wrath and disgust.

One of the most incredibly potent concepts that I have discovered while doing empowerment work with clients is that there is a place in the psyche or a point of consciousness where forgiveness, choice and anger meet! This is a very exciting discovery. When a client chooses to stay conscious with their anger, they can much more easily be “for giving” up their old “patterns of self abuse” and be for commencing and re-crafting new and functional patterns of self love. This concept applies to many of the other emotions besides anger; however, it is particularly powerful when applied to anger.

Another emotion that is very difficult to be “for giving” with is guilt. The vast majority of people do not know the meaning of the word guilt. They certainly know how it feels though! Guilt is the self-punishment that we meter out to ourselves for not having known, or done, something in the past that we now feel we “should” have known, or done, then. How absurd…we weren’t aware then of what we didn’t know, or of what we were doing. We need to exonerate ourselves from the self-verdict of guilty of perceived past crimes. Also it is important not to be generating new guilt as we navigate our way through life. There is a Buddhist psychology technique that can be used to prevent the build-up of guilt. It is called “walking on the razor’s edge”. It means staying eternally present and fully conscious. It means being and doing exactly what we want in each moment. There is no place or space for guilt in this state. There is nothing to “for give”. Nothing is going wrong. We don’t fall either side of the razor’s edge if we stay fully balanced moment to moment.

A technique that works very well “for giving” anger away is writing a letter to the person that you believe “made you angry” and then mailing the letter to yourself. When you get the letter a week or so later, make believe it really is to yourself. It usually feels like one part of yourself dialoguing with another part of yourself.

Couples can practice these “for giving” techniques together or with a psychotherapist or hypnotherapist. “For giving” is contagious. When one person experiences another being “for giving”, it encourages them to be more “for giving”. The more one gives emotionally, the more one receives emotionally. To have a friend one needs to be a friend.