Want Love? Meet Forgiveness....
If we are shaped by anything in life, it is surely by the pang of painful past experiences. You know this pain all too well. The ones in life who were supposed to protect, provide, and nurture instead inflicted deep and sorrowful hurt, abandonment, and abuse. Expectations were dashed, self-expression wasn’t allowed, eggshells were everywhere.
In therapy, I hear the broken, brutal stories of courageous people who have somehow made it through. They look for greater freedom and joy. They refuse to let their past define their present and future. I often find myself angry as I hold space for these stories to live and breathe, sometimes for the very first time. It’s never fair.
And this is the truth. Injustice isn’t fair. Yet I am learning it’s part of life. How we deal with that injustice is truly our making. The trauma of our past breaks us in a way that often feels irreparable...futile. This trauma doesn’t just dissipate either. It’s stored in the tissues and neural pathways of our bodies. For this reason, a holistic, mind-body-spirit approach to healing is vitally important.
The voluntary and visceral reactions to a past experience are so significant it gets branded into your body. My hunch is you’ve experience the effect of painful past experiences manifesting in your body. If so, lean in. The wisdom of your body is trying to get your attention.
In fact, your body is brilliant and tends to literally block out old trauma, having no memory of it until physically exposed to stimuli. We learn to detach, shut down, and numb.
Bessel van der Kolk, psychiatrist and author of The Body Keeps the Score, explains:
“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies; The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”
This insight fascinates me as it’s helped me understand that we can’t talk our way out of healing from this “gnawing interior discomfort.” We must learn two things: how to feel safe in our bodies and how to forgive. I love using Brainspotting with clients to begin unlocking the process of re-attachment and develop a sense of safety in our bodies. It has been a game changer for me and many.
I’ve noticed the more difficult of the two is often the forgiveness piece, which isn’t a surprise to me. We think of forgiveness much like we do vulnerability: as weakness. Thus we choose to carry the perpetrators of our pain around, heaping tons of power on them. Oftentimes the one we need to forgive the most is ourself, which can feel nearly impossible.
When we choose unforgiveness, we not only stay connected to the pain and its source, we allow our past to define us. Isn’t it time we put down that heavy burden? Isn’t it time we take back our power and re-focus that wasted energy on giving and receiving new, hopeful opportunities and love?
This week, I encourage you to do some inventory and see if there might be any lingering unforgiveness that weighs you down and holds you back from your highest self. Support throughout this process is key, so know that I am here if you need a safe place to process and land along the way.
Remember, you are not the crumbs of your past. You’re invited to a grand, exquisite table of the present moment to feast on freedom and be satisfied by love. It’s a wide open space to explore and move around in. You are always welcome here.
Love & Gratitude,