Where Does Forgiveness Start?

Dear Soft Hearted Loves,

Sometimes we want to forgive or release someone or something for a wrongdoing or resentment we’re holding.  Perhaps someone hurt you.  Maybe a system or place or thing didn’t give you a chance.  Perhaps intergenerational stuff has been passed down to you and you want to release from this stuff.  Maybe what you hoped for did not happen.

Oftentimes forgiveness advice is focused on letting go of anger.  This advice will be a little different.  Today we’ll focus on self-forgiveness not on other people.  Feel all the anger or other feelings you want to feel.  

You may not blame yourself, but if there’s a chance you have some shame or hurt, self-forgiveness may be helpful.  

We can make room for self-forgiveness by feeling any feelings you have to their full extent.  This may mean sitting for a couple of minutes alone where you can feel your feels all the way.  Maybe this means quiet time.  Or maybe this means crying for a few minutes and letting the tears fall without beating yourself up.  In fact, tears release toxins, so let those tears come.  Let your chest feel tight, heavy, sad, whatever it feels.  Let your tummy feel whatever it feels.  Let your pelvis feel achy.  Let your shoulders well up with tension.  Let your forehead ache.  Let it all be for a couple of minutes.  It may be so scary to feel your feelings all the way.  Perhaps nothing comes.  That’s totally okay too.  Feeling feelings doesn’t mean you’re doing something about them.  There’s no need to worry that you’ll act out from a place of feeling triggered.  You can simply try your best to feel without doing a thing. 

Sometimes when our inner parts get a chance to be experienced in the body they aren’t in there kicking and screaming in the form of shame, inner criticism, or acting out.  I’m really proud of you for even considering feeling your feelings.  I think it’s really hard and really hard not to at the same time.

If after you’ve felt your feelings such as anger, grief, sadness, or disappointment you’d like to ground yourself you may find a sensual grounding strategy helpful like smelling citrus or touching something cool.  Getting back into our bodies and into the moment can help us feel that annoyance, anger, or disappointment in ourselves for letting back in that hurtful dating prospect, expecting more from a family member, or hoping a system would change their ways.  We can also have a deeper, more authentic compassion for those parts of ourselves that didn’t expect what was coming or expected it and tried anyway.  Perhaps we can talk to ourselves a little like we’d talk to a friend or our inner child when they made a hard mistake or when they were hurt.  Rather than shame them, let’s give them a huge hug of understanding with our words.  If they want to explore how they can do differently next time that’s fine, especially once they’re in a better place, but for now let’s feel the feelings and talk compassionately to ourselves.   It may be hard to find compassion for ourselves if our mistake is a repeated pattern.  That’s understandable.  Feeling the feels and exuding compassion will still be helpful before exploring how we can do differently next time.  Someone with this type of pattern may even benefit from therapy or a healing space where they can explore where and why they keep doing xyz.  Hands on my heart, I’m sending you lovingforgiveness for whatever self-forgiveness you may be working on.  

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

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