Welcome to the holidays. Welcome to coming face to face with your pain and forgiveness.
It’s ironic and a little sad, isn’t it? Most of us look forward to the holidays, but one in three people dread this time of year. I have many clients tell me they literally “hate the holidays.” And it’s because of the pain.
The biggest pain issue is forgiveness. You may wonder why you’re not excited about seeing certain relatives, co-workers, etc., this holiday season. Well, it’s because of pain. Pain demands an immediate response, so we respond. And that’s the reason it’s so hard to forgive. Even if you say the words, “I forgive you.”
Fast forward to the holidays. You’re dressed up and headed to a friend or relative’s house. You close the door and say to yourself, “OK I forgive so and so (fill in the blank).” That’s all well and good but the pain is still there.
Today I want to talk about practical steps to forgiveness that you can put to work any time of year. What you are really asking is, “how do I make the pain go away?”
Step #1 View pain as a blessing, not a curse. Pain is only a blessing if dealt with correctly. Don’t avoid pain, but ask what lessons does it hold and then be done with it, move through it and on. In their wonderful book, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, Dr. Paul Brandt and Philip Yancey talk about how we have totally missed pain’s purpose by labeling it as a curse instead of a blessing.
Step # 2 Separate the person from the act. You must separate the person from the act, and that includes you because very often the person you have trouble forgiving is yourself. You are NOT your actions, however. Now the act may be unforgivable by us humans. We all know what those are - rape, abuse, harm - but even the lesser ones we need to separate from the person. I would reference a specific Bible passage, Romans 7, that saved my life decades ago. The great Apostle Paul said, “when I do what I don’t want to do and I don’t do what I do want to do and I do this over and over it’s not me it’s not me that doing it.”
Every client argues with me over this. Of course Paul is speaking from love’s perspective. You are not your actions. Like a splinter, your action is in you but it is not you. Only love can forgive. Fear can’t forgive!
Step # 3 Put down judgment. We love to judge. It’s part of our comparison mechanism. Comparison is the number one things that ruins your day. Most people are constantly comparing themselves to everyone (people at the grocery, people at the holiday dinner table, people they see on TV.) It’s a constant battle between superiority and inferiority which puts you on a constant roller coaster. Plus your judgments are very often wrong. I learned that in one of my first counseling sessions.
Through the years I have worked with quite a few famous and wealthy people. Trust me, everybody has their junk. A great illustration is the movie Breakfast Club. You’ve got this spectrum of high school kids ranging from a biker dude whose dad puts cigarettes out on him and a rich kid headed to Harvard. And they are trying to figure out which one wants to commit suicide. Well, guess what? It’s not the kid you think it would be.
Step #4 Immerse yourself in the possibility that if you had lived their life you may have done the very same thing... or even something worse. The Native Americans had a saying...never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their moccasins. That’s why we can’t judge. We don’t know their baggage and we don’t know how we would react. I guarantee there are people on this Earth who would judge you, just as you judge them. So if you don’t want to be judged, you’ve got to stop judging others and accept them just as they are.
Step #5 Acceptance is key. You can say the words I forgive you a hundred times and still not feel it. How do you know when you have forgiven? In my opinion, you have forgiven someone when you can honestly say you 100 percent accept that person unconditionally. You do not have to forgive the act or behavior. That is up to a higher spiritual being.
Lastly I want to share a question I get a huge response from when I speak to groups, both large and small. How would you feel if the next time you went to church or your group meeting or dinner with the family if when you arrived they turned down the lights and someone said, “OK here are all of your hidden wrongs, including all of the thoughts and imaginations.” 99 out of 100 people would say “no way...I would run out!” So think about that when you are wanting to inflict pain and judgement on others, including yourself, because most all of us have something we are ashamed of.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, try my new Trilogy method to finally heal the pain that is holding you back. I’ve had people use Trilogy and within an hour feel results.
It’s time we start dealing with pain correctly. Choose this holiday season to go through the pain to reach a state of forgiveness and resolution and apply it year round!