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Light Weight Living > Blog > Mental and Emotional Wellness > The Four Levels of Forgiveness

The Four Levels of Forgiveness

written by: Kathy Best, July 3, 2019

It seems that many people misunderstand what forgiveness work means. I feel I need to clarify to set the record straight. Forgiveness work doesn’t mean you need to excuse someone for mistreating, abusing, or harming you, or for ending a life. You certainly do not need to maintain or renew a relationship with anyone who hurt you and you do not need to forgive them face to face – unless that is something you feel compelled to do for closure. When I talk about forgiveness it is simply a process and a practice in which you release yourself from the bondage of the emotional chains that keep you trapped in an endless pattern of pain, unhappiness, fear, depression, and self-criticism.

Please understand that no one deserves to be abused, tortured, or mistreated physically or emotionally! There is never an excuse for such behavior. Often times the victims of abuse cannot seem to find their way out of the anger, shame, guilt, and pain of these experiences. These feelings, while normal and completely understandable, need to be processed and integrated in order to begin healing and moving forward toward a fulfilling, harmonious, joyful life. The time frame for this process is unique for every person and experience, but the longer harmful, negative, or heavy emotions are held and replayed in the body and mind the more likely they are to negatively impact your present and future experiences, relationships, physical health and wellbeing.

You see, the physical body is a manifestation of our psychological health and history. Most people believe that the body is determined by our genes and our family heritage, but quantum physics, epigenetics, and other evidence based studies are proving that our physical health and wellbeing is also directly related to our psychology, emotional, and physical environment. The emotional, social, and environmental issues we were subjected to and indoctrinated with as children, and the way we were taught to deal with them, show up in our physical body as wellness, or illness depending on our perceptions of our experiences and our ability to process the emotional impact of those experiences.

Below I have listed the four levels of forgiveness as they pertain to our individual progress toward conscious, awakened living, fulfillment, peace, and wellbeing. There is no time frame for any of these levels. We all process our experiences differently and must allow for as much time as it takes.

Beginner – You express your anger, pain, hatred, sadness, fear, and resentment heartily and at length, wanting to know why. You need to be seen and heard by others that empathize and validate your pain and anger, but on some level you also want to rid yourself of the emotional charge you carry with you toward the person/people, or event(s). You aren’t ready to forgive yet. You are still caught up in the emotional burden of the situation and need time to process everything. You need space and time to vent, analyze, and integrate your anger, pain, sadness, fear, and resentment. Often, even the smallest events piss you off, like an annoying co-worker, a boss that doesn’t recognize your value, a stranger that takes the parking space you were eyeballing, or someone that holds you up at the grocery store. You may want to call out or confront the person/or people for their misconduct. You may, on occasion, consider forgiveness reluctantly, with resistance, and a bunch of fantasies about the death, torture, or misery of the other person/people, because that’s what everyone is telling you to do. It’s a superficial forgiveness that leaves you feeling even more wounded and angry than you were before. You decide to start practicing forgiveness with small events and people that have irritated, or wounded your ego in minor ways to see if this stuff really works.

Intermediate – You’re learning how to process the emotional charge surrounding all kinds of annoying, irritating, painful, horrible, disempowering people and events. You truly desire to release the pain and suffering that reliving and reviewing the experience(s) is causing you. You recognize that holding onto the anger, fear, and pain is hurting you on so many levels and you are ready to experience life in new and wonderful ways. You want to move on and free yourself from the self-sabotaging, reactive way you interact with everyone in your current life, but you cannot seem to stop expecting everyone around you to hurt, disappoint, or take advantage of you. You struggle to see the meaning and purpose of pain and suffering in your life and the world around you, but you feel on some level it does have a purpose. You want to forgive yourself and the other person/people, not because they necessarily deserve it, and not to let them off the hook, but because you deserve to be free of the chains that bind you to the person/people or event(s). You really start working toward healing by practicing a forgiveness ritual, mantra, visualization, or meditation that helps you open your heart, become more compassionate, and try to understand what can be learned from your experiences, and how the perpetrator(s) own past experiences may have played a large role in their behavior. You have grand ideas of what you want to do and be and you practice picturing yourself and your life having new wonderful experiences. You understand how we are like magnets and attract to us the energy we focus upon. It’s getting easier to shift your mood and emotions from negative to positive and express gratitude for all of the good things that you have in your life now, even if they aren’t exactly what you had hoped for. You know that Life brings us exactly what we need to get to the next level of our spiritual evolution and our purpose.

Expert – You have been practicing forgiveness regularly for some time and are now experiencing the far reaching, almost magical, benefits of this exercise. You know that forgiveness does not condone violent, negative, hurtful, aggressive, inappropriate, or otherwise poor behavior, but you also know that only people that are they themselves hurting, hurt others. You have developed so much more compassion, understanding, and love toward yourself and others. You become courageous, resilient, and fulfilled in all areas of Life. You know that Life is creating through you, not happening to you. You open your heart and mind to the synchronicities that effortlessly occur when you flow with Life allowing it to lead you to your highest good instead of trying to lead Life where you think you want to go. You can easily see the meaning and purpose behind tragic, painful, or challenging events and you use them as opportunities to grow and expand your consciousness, your compassion, your love of all that is and to become the essence of forgiveness. You no longer experience long periods of depression, anger, or sorrow, in fact, you rarely experience any negative or painful emotions because you know in your heart that you are intrinsically connected to all that is, was, and will be. You understand that we all have the capacity to become a Hitler or a Mother Theresa and everything in between. It’s by our free will and the limits of our understanding that we allow our experiences to define us and dictate our future, or we redefine those experiences to propel us toward the infinite power and light we carry within us.

Master – You now know with every fiber of your being the complexity of your interconnectedness to the earth and everything on it. Life force energy works through you, as you, manifesting almost instantly a life beyond imagining as you trust and allow Holy Spirit to create your highest service and greatest good for yourself and the world. You see with your heart and your soul the pain and suffering that those acting in destructive, harmful, hurtful ways are defining themselves by. You know the truth that they are simply reflections of what any one of us could become when we misunderstand who and what we truly are and why we are here. You live in harmony with Life and all that is knowing nothing on this earth lasts forever and yet we are all eternal beings that do not end, but simply change form. Forgiveness is no longer a practice as you embody the light of love, understanding, compassion, and gratitude – seeing every experience as a sacred gift from The Creator. Nothing can break your serenity as you live the truth that Love is the most powerful force on earth and there is nothing to forgive. We are all simply actors upon the stage of Life, using physical bodies as our costumes, playing out our worst nightmares, our greatest dreams, and everything in between. We are all Source energy taken physical form and from whence we came, so shall we return – whole, complete, and perfectly glorious.

Following are a beginner and intermediate meditation you can memorize to help you as you commence a forgiveness practice. These meditations were adapted from Vishen Lakhiani, the Founder of Mindvalley. You can say them out loud if you are alone in a private space or do them silently in your mind. Start out spending 5 minutes a day with this practice and increase it as you feel called to do. The more time you spend on this practice the faster and bigger the results will be. Read through the meditation a couple of times before you try it so you can get the general idea of how it flows.

Beginner Forgiveness Exercise:

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Take long, slow, deep breaths and begin to relax your body starting with your head and neck, your eyes and your jaw. Relax your shoulders and back. Relax your arms and fingers. Relax your chest and your stomach. Relax your pelvis and your backside. Relax your thighs, calves, and toes.

Now picture or feel yourself standing in a neutral place of your choosing. It could be a beach, or a lake, a mountain, or a mansion. Any place that makes you feel safe and empowered. If you need to you can call in a couple of helpers to protect and guide you during this process. They can be religious figures, ancient philosophers, sages, spirit guides, animals, or ancestors – anything that makes you feel safe and encouraged.

Next I want you to imagine someone that you need to forgive standing in front of you. Not too close, maybe 10 or 20 feet away; whatever makes you feel most comfortable. I want you to start small, so begin with people that do not create overwhelming feelings of pain, shame, sadness, or rage. Maybe a drive that cut you off on your way to work, or a co-worker that said something mean to you. It could even be yourself. You can picture yourself in front of you if you did or said something recently that you feel a little guilty or shameful about.

Now start off by bringing up your anger, shame, guilt, or whatever it was that this person made you feel and tell them all about it. (Don’t spend more than 2 minute letting them have it.) You can scream at them in your mind (or out loud if you are in a private space). You can pound your fists, threaten them, berate them, or curse them. Whatever you need to do to express the emotions that the experience caused you.

Now ask them why. What could have possibly been so urgent, so bad, or so wrong that they would have done this to you? Spend a minute trying to come up with the answer to this question. (Spend no more than 1 minute on this question.)

Now take a deep breath and think about something that makes you utterly happy, something that makes you laugh with joy and overflow with love. Maybe it’s an animal, a parent, a sibling, your child, or a rainbow. Whatever it is that always brings a smile to your face and love to your heart when you think of it. Really sink into that feeling and expand it as much as you can. Focus your whole attention on that feeling of bliss and love. (Spend 1 minute recreating these feelings.)

Look at the person standing in front of you and tell them that you forgive them. Don’t just grumble or mumble it. Say it with heartfelt feeling and honesty. You may not understand or empathize with them, but you can let go of the negative emotions around the event and free yourself from any further impact this may have had over your ability to be happy now. (Spend 1 minute on this.)

You can end your exercise by sending the person off into a mist or having them disappear, opening your eyes, and stretching.

Intermediate Forgiveness Exercise:

Spend as much time on this exercise as you feel comfortable with, but try to make it at least 10 minutes. Also try repeating the practice more than once a day using more difficult situations and people as you grow in this practice. You can also use this around structures like education, politics, government, and so on.

Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Take long, slow, deep breaths and begin to relax your body starting with your head and neck, your eyes and your jaw. Relax your shoulders and back. Relax your arms and fingers. Relax your chest and your stomach. Relax your pelvis and your backside. Relax your thighs, calves, and toes.

Now quickly bring to mind 2 or 3 guides that you feel a strong connection to – they could be religious figures, famous figures, sages, experts or masters in a certain field, angels, animals, spirit guides, ancestors, or any other beings you resonate with. These will provide you protection, support, and council during all of your forgiveness exercises.

Now picture or feel yourself standing in a place of your choosing. It could be a beach, or a lake, a mountain, or a mansion. It could even be a place where a painful event occurred.

Next I want you to imagine someone or something that you need to forgive standing in front of you. Maybe 5 or so feet away. You’ve been doing this for a while, so along with the everyday stuff, start choosing people or events that initiate strong feelings of pain, shame, sadness, or rage. It is okay to experience these feeling as long as you do not get lost in the feelings.

Now start off by bringing up your anger, shame, guilt, or whatever it was that this person made you feel and tell them all about it. You can scream at them in your mind, or out loud if you are in a private space. You can pound your fists, threaten them, berate them, or curse them. Whatever you need to do to express and release the emotions that the experience caused you.

Now ask them why. What could have possibly been so urgent, so bad, or so wrong that they would have done this to you? Spend several minutes coming up with as many answers as you can to this question. Maybe they were abused as a child. Maybe their family did not love them. Maybe they just lost someone they cared about. Maybe life has kicked them when they were down so many times they no longer feel anything but anger and rage. Maybe they are going through a something so horrible you cannot even imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. Maybe they feel lost, alone, helpless, and hopeless. Maybe they feel they are not enough. Let the ideas run through your mind for several minutes or until you cannot come up with anything else.

Now take a deep breath and think about something that makes you utterly happy, something that makes you laugh with joy and overflow with love. Maybe it’s an animal, a parent, a sibling, your child, or a rainbow. Whatever it is that always brings a smile to your face and love to your heart when you think of it. Really sink into that feeling and expand it as much as you can. Focus your whole attention on that feeling of bliss and love. Spend several minutes in this space of love and joy.

Look or feel your gaze shirt back to the person standing in front of you. Feel compassion and understanding as you tell them that you forgive them. Say it with honest, heartfelt feeling. You can empathize with them and how you might have done something just as bad living their life. You forgive them and you set them free. You may not want or need to be a part of their lives, but neither do you wish them ill will. You want them to find peace and happiness just as you have. Now ask them to forgive you for pushing the buttons in them that caused them to react from their most wounded place, or not be able to save them, or wanting to bring them harm. Turn to your guides and ask each one individually if you are finished with this person. If they all say yes you can end your exercise by opening your eyes and stretching. If they say no, repeat the exercise until they all say yes.

Expert Forgiveness Ritual:

Ho’oponopono

You no longer need a practice or exercise as this has become a regular habit that you do regularly and automatically with everyone and everything. This is an ancient Hawaiian mantra that is a mental and spiritual cleansing of our ‘errors in thought’. This is, according to the Hawaiians and now many experts in the fields of spirituality, psychology, self-help, wellness, and healing – the origin of problems and sickness in the physical world. Quite literally the translation of Ho’oponopono is ‘to put to right; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat.’

It goes like this:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

Thank you

If you are unfamiliar with this or to learn more about the history and power of Ho’oponopono you can check out the link below.

https://upliftconnect.com/hawaiian-practice-of-forgiveness/

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