The topic of forgiveness came up today in my work with one of my clients. This topic seems to surface alot in my work, and always carries with it a great deal of emotionality.
All of the world's major religions are rampant with messages, some subtle and others more overt, about forgiveness. The Christian religion teaches that we are "sinners," and that we must ask for God in Jesus to forgive us of our sins in order to be "saved" and to go to heaven. Christians pray the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In the Jewish faith, much time is spent on the Day of Atonement and during Yom Kippur, asking for the forgiveness of those they have wronged and praying for God to forgive them their wrongs. Muslims are taught that their God is "all-forgiving," and spend time daily asking God for forgiveness. Buddhists practice release of suffering and thoughts of wrong-doing through meditation, and focus on the giving of compassion and loving kindness to others. In the Hindu faith, the god Krishna states that forgiveness is "one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state," and contrasts the virture or forgiveness with anger and pride.
For those who identify by their alignment with one of these religions, and for those who do not, it is undeniable that the pressure to forgive is a strong one in our culture. How does that pressure impact you?
Does that pressure make you more or less inclined to forgive?
Is there a part of you that feels guilty when you haven't forgiven, or like you are somehow "bad" because you have not forgiven?
Is there a part of you that resists the mandates to forgive because they feel controlling?
Is there part of you that feels like, if you forgive, you are saying that what someone did to you is okay?
Do you believe that if you forgive someone, you are no longer entitled to feel the effects of their actions?
What messages are you carrying about forgiveness? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
In loving kindness!