How to Forgive the Unforgivable
To forgive the unforgivable always seemed to me like something only saints were capable of doing. Only the most holy people are often regarded as the special ones capable of letting go completely.
It even seemed to me these people had some sort of special gift from God that enabled them to be so forgiving of the most heinous behaviors.
Even as a child it seemed to me to forgive the unforgivable was a sublime goal, yet unattainable. I often heard people say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” Somehow, that didn’t sound like forgiving to me.
One factor that makes the issue of how to forgive the unforgivable is the strong emotional reactions that are triggered by some people’s behaviors. When you have a strong reaction, it can seem to come out of nowhere and beyond your control.
In addition, if someone has done something particularly terrible, forgiving the person can seem like you are letting the person get away with their actions. We have a built-in need to see justice done and the transgressor pay for what they have done. Shouldn’t they be held accountable?
Doesn’t true and deep forgiveness include wiping the slate clean and starting over again.
To Forgive the Unforgivable is not Impossible
However, isn’t it true that only bad people don’t forgive? You certainly don’t want to be a bad person right?
Have you felt guilty for not forgiving? Have you thought you’d feel a lot better if you were able to forgive completely?
Maybe you tried to be forgiving. You might have thought “I’ve said it out loud that I have forgiven that person,” only to find yourself hoping karma will get them while secretly still resenting them.
Deep forgiveness does lead to healing and closure; however, why is it so difficult?
Forgiveness is one of the best practices that leads to the healing of deep wounds you’ve carried since childhood.
When you say you forgive yourself or someone else it can lead to a feeling of being cleansed. It enables you to lighten the load you’ve been carrying, although it is more challenging with deeply painful experiences, but to forgive the unforgivable is certainly possible with understanding.
There are 5 understandings about what forgiveness is that will help you to be successful with it.1. Forgiveness is a way for you to set yourself free.
1. Forgiveness is about releasing you from anger, bitterness, shame, revenge, and regret. You don’t have to be a saint to forgive.
As you forgive yourself, you set yourself free from feeling like a victim. When you don’t forgive yourself you brood with dark feelings while refusing to let go of something from the past.
Regardless of what happened, the past is over, done, and no longer your reality. However, as long as you hold onto your judgment about what happened you keep it alive as if it is still the condition or experience, and therefore you continue to suffer.
2. Forgiving doesn’t mean you forget, but it does mean you release the charge on the memory. You retain the wisdom from the experience and release any negative karma that led to the experience.
When you forgive, you are able to be objective. You are then able to reflect on what happened without being pulled into the drama of the event.
When you are neutral about the event, you can use the experience to make wiser decisions and choices in the future. This is how you stop repeating patterns which keep you in a loop.
If you don’t forgive but you try to ignore or suppress what happened you energize the pattern at a subconscious level and further establish a toxic subtle-energy program.
Whatever happened was there to teach you something, so use it as a catalyst to move on with your life in a healthier way.
3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean people get away with bad behaviors. They can be held accountable for their actions, but you release any toxic emotions that take a toll on you.
Forgiving is about releasing yourself from the pain of your negative emotions. It is not able thinking of yourself as better than anyone else. It’s not about being a “bigger” person than the one who committed the offensive act.
All bad behaviors stem from internal pain a person is carrying. Most people’s behaviors are dictated by defense mechanisms based on the beliefs a person has.
Everyone is trying to make a better life for themselves and do things they think are fulfilling. If they misjudge you and say or do things attacking you or hurting you, they are operating from their wounds and inner pain. Until they address their inner pain and issues, they will continue to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Abusive people are in pain. Cheating people are in pain. Nasty people are in pain. Complainers are in pain. Pain drives all the suffering and unkindness in the world.
Everything painful that has happened to you at the hands of others is a result of them trying to ease their own pain, however in very misguided ways. Once you realize this, you will be able to understand why they do what they do. This does not exonerate them, but it can help you have more compassion for their suffering. Once you have a better understanding of why they do what they do, you will be able to forgive them.
4. People often react irrationally. People think they are rational and logical, but their conclusions are based on partial information and erroneous beliefs that cause them to make self-defeating choices.
From your point of view you probably won’t understand why the person acted the way they did and you don’t need to in order to forgive them. It is sufficient to know that everyone carries pain and the pain causes them to act the way they do.
Until you forgive, you can end up rethinking the reasons and causes something happened like trying to put a puzzle together that has missing parts.
Emotional wounds can cause people to act unpredictably and illogically. They can cause a person to take dangerous risks, make choices against their own self-interests (self-sabotage), and take drastic actions.
You don’t need to know all the psychological reasons why a person does what they do. It is enough to know they are in pain. That understanding is the foundation of forgiveness.
5. Forgiving doesn’t heal the other person. They have to heal themselves, although you forgiving them can make it easier for them to heal in some instances.
Someone may have asked you for forgiveness and you may have said, “Of course, I forgive you.” Nevertheless, what do you do when they repeat the same kind of act?
This presents a challenge doesn’t it? This is where you feel like you have to draw a line on whether you can forgive the unforgiveable: the repeating of the offensive actions.
Most people change very slowly over a long time. Because they have deep wounds, distorted ideas, and difficult challenges, people will usually repeat the same behaviors even when they don’t want to. A reason for this is that most patterns that cause behaviors are in the subconscious and it takes time and dedication to change that.
This brings us back to point 4 above about coming to a place of understanding as to why a person does what they do. In many cases, they are not malicious and may feel quite badly about what they have done, but they may have felt as if they couldn’t help themselves. That’s the power of subconscious programming.
Some people are wired differently from the majority and that causes them to have offensive behaviors sometimes in wildly erratic ways. Some people have mental disorders that make them more challenging to deal with. This requires a special level of understanding and patience, but if they are not seriously pursuing help, you may need to consider removing yourself from frequent interaction with them. However, this does not preclude your forgiving them even if it feels like it is a challenge to forgive the unforgivable.
My Freedom from Your Past Toolkit will support you in letting go and move past any pain.
Only you can choose to make your life better and the same is true of others. You can heal much in your life by saying out loud that you forgive yourself of each item that plagues your mind. As you keep repeating forgiveness, you’ll find the intensity of your reactions diminish and eventually you will find deep and sustained peace.
A simple and effective forgiveness practice is called Hooponopono and I have a short video on how to do it. Hooponopono Advanced Practice
My Deep forgiveness audio program delves more deeply into this subject and guides you through forgiveness meditations.