Dr. John Burton

Educare Counseling Services "Leading to Wholeness"

Forgiveness, an Inside Job

This article presents a perspective on forgiveness suggesting it as a process that takes place within our self. While acknowledging forgiveness as an act taking place more within our self than between our self and another is not new, this article describes an additional step that seems key in experiencing forgiveness.

I am defining forgiveness as the result of re-uniting inner parts of self that separated in response to emotional trauma. Relying on a Jungian point of view, emotional trauma usually leads to some aspect of self splintering off from the rest of our self. The emphasis here is on reconciling within as the process of forgiving.

Four primary ingredients seem present in this process of trauma and forgiving or charity. These ingredients include the “offender”, the “offense”, our perspective on the offense and our response (disconnecting from some aspect of self). Once our ego-self provides the perspective and explanation about a traumatic event, this leads us to believe that forgiveness somehow revolves around the “offender”.

Ego-self believes that what happens outside of self determines our self-concept and worth, empowering others while disempowering self. This perspective propels us into seeking to regain some aspect of self from the offender who “took” it. We believe an apology from the offender will accomplish this. From an ego perspective, forgiveness may also seem some act we do unto another, absolving the offender, whether or not we re-unite parts of self.

Utilizing the trauma reflex perspective of our ego-self, that external events determine our inner worth, the offender appears responsible for our reflex internal splintering, the resulting shadow part, and emotional fallout. After an emotional trauma we may say to our self something like, “I just haven’t had much confidence since my father (mother, boss, friend or significant person) criticized me so harshly” In other cases of trauma and the internal splintering, we may say, “I just don’t feel good about myself ever since __________ was so cruel to me” These statements reveal the disconnected part of self.

Until we look within and re-unite separated parts, our human ego holds us captive to its beliefs. This disempowering perspective often only mires us deeper in resentment and bitterness, while not recognizing the real opportunity to forgive and heal by our own “hands”. The internal process of “bringing home” our disowned part allows our self to feel more whole. This wholeness promotes healing the wound, empowering self while disempowering the offender.

We can always tell when we have shifted from ego self to your spiritual self as spiritual self operates in the exact opposite manner as ego self. Instead of rejecting a part of self and holding another responsible for this, Spirit-self lovingly reclaims the part and knows it is solely, blessedly able to accomplish this. Once reconciled within, the offender exists as separate, and perhaps moot, since you now hold your own power. Each of us is the only individual who can cast off a part of self and, so too, we are each the only one who can reclaim this same part, a reversal of misfortune.

However, there exists one toll booth, of sorts, that must be negotiated along the way to forgiveness. Naturally, the token that gets us through this toll booth is charity. Given that our ego held the painful offense inside and jettisoned off a part of self, we could find it tempting to turn the ire from the offender on to self for this error. The shift happens when we recognize the need to forgive our self for the splintering and holding these pointless grudges that only hurt and limited us. What we hold onto and what we let go of in this life may be one of the most significant decisions we make. This charity toward the self then comes into play when we realize our accidental misunderstanding that led to our holding the pain instead of healing the part. We let go of hurt in exchange for reclaiming a part of self.

There is no fault or blame and no culprit in this internal process and, most importantly, charity means not blaming self. Thankfully, we each have access and only we have access to our misunderstandings. We alone generate and are master of the process that our ego-brain misled us into as a supposed solution. Apologies from an offender, if received, rarely reach deep wounds. We must come to our own rescue with the healing power of charity to re-unite.

Now we move to the powerful self-liberating benefits. What we held in our self—the thoughts, emotions, and general painful energy become the primary antagonist to our human system. This harbored anger, fear, sadness or other painful emotions pose a danger to our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Once we realize that we have accidentally been misled by our primitive brain into holding these negative energies, we release them through charity toward our self. This release extends down into the deepest aspects of our being just as the painful energies had extended to the same depth.  Upon reaching higher consciousness, we realize that we did not mean to hold these pains. We just misunderstood what to do, and our human reflexes took over. Now, understanding this from a higher place, compassion rushes in, filling and soothing.

We recognize that we no longer need to hold these limiting energies. Now, we can feel within our being and sense a clearing at the cellular level. We truly experience charity, releasing the pent-up energy that was the only antagonist to our system in the first place.

Notice and feel the limiting energy fade and evaporate. Charity naturally leads to a sense of true freedom as we release others and our self from the captivity imposed by harbored resentment. Once free to access and reclaim our lost part, we let others go free since they no longer pose a threat. Forgiveness within self repairs and restores.

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