06 Apr Forgiveness
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid…“
— Harriet Beecher Stowe
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.“
— Mahatma Gandhi
It seems appropriate, especially during this season of renewal, to consider the act of forgiveness. At this time of Easter and Passover, forgiveness can give us fresh perspectives on our relationships with other people.
Forgiveness is a source of great power on your hero’s journey. It’s an act of compassion, generosity, and courage! When you forgive someone, you lay down your armor and shield and proceed onward. You lighten up. If ever there were an act of courage, this is it. As Laurence Sterne said: “Only the brave know how to forgive.” As you can see from this quote, and the one from Mahatma Gandhi above, people who have done extensive spiritual work agree on this point.
Forgiveness requires strength and vulnerability. And, like it or not, it is essential to practice forgiveness if you wish to have a powerful relationship with money, let alone with the rest of your life.
The approach to forgiveness I’m going to share with you was taught to me around 30 years ago by Father Gerry O’Rourke, a priest in the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. At a conference of about 250 people, he proposed a simple, yet powerful, way to forgive someone, simple by asking three simple, yet powerful questions! You’ll learn those questions if you choose to do the exercise that I’ve recorded for you. If you answer “yes” to those questions, you have forgiven the person. It is done. Finished. Accomplished!
Let’s look at the essential nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness occurs when you are willing to let go of permission to use evidence you’ve gathered about another person as the reason for your difficulties with money. Blaming others is a powerless position because you are ascribing another person’s actions or failure to act, as the reason for your current financial predicaments.
It could sound like this, taken from one participant in a course I led about forgiveness and money:
Jill: My business partner hasn’t kept her part of the bargain in making sales for the past two years. Now we’re having the worst year in this virtual assistant business. If it wasn’t for her, this business would have grown by leaps and bounds this year. She’s squashing my hopes of being a successful businessperson!
Forgiveness occurs when you are willing to voluntarily dismantle your stories, scenarios, and sayings about what the person did and how it affected you. This act of courage could also unmask your own behavior. That is to say, what you did or didn’t do yourself to create the “money mess” you’re in.
Father O’Rourke also added an important caveat which, at the first time I heard it, elevated my understanding of the true spiritual nature of forgiveness:
“Forgiveness, in keeping with the profound nature of the act, requires that you do it for the other person’s sake, rather than for your own!”
The following is what I mean by this last statement.
When you forgive someone, you do it because:
- You no longer want your stories about their behavior to dehumanize them. There is a two-dimensional view we get of someone when we continue to tell the story of how they affected our life primarily in this negative way. They aren’t known for their goals and dreams and how they long to make a difference, just like everyone else in the world. Quite the contrary.
- You see the possibility that, for every person you haven’t forgiven, there might be at least one or two other people who could have stories and scenarios about you and your behavior!
Along these lines, a friend of mine told me about a conference held many years ago in San Francisco, on “anger management.” Participants were given batakas, these foam-covered bat shaped implements, a pillow, and a mat. They were instructed to sit on the floor, think of one person who had hurt them, and beat the pillow while yelling all of the pent-up anger and hurt they’d felt toward that person. At the end of about twenty minutes (when everyone was exhausted and sweaty) she would congratulate them and then end with the following: “For everyone who you’ve hit the floor over, there may be at least two or three people who could do the same thing for you!”
- You know, deep down inside, that you don’t wish to have people tied to you by your stories about them. You are willing to wish them well on their own hero’s journey!
If you see the truth in the above statements, proceed to the recording I’ve made for you. It will take you through the Forgiveness Process Father O’Rourke allowed me to develop. I’ve done it with literally thousands of people throughout the past 30 years. I still get messages from some who talk about the “money breakthroughs” they’ve had because they were willing to take this courageous step.
Are you willing? If so, proceed onward to Forgiveness episode of my Podcast »
Let me know what you discover!
Wishing you all my best,