The moment we talk about forgiveness the question that accompanies it is “are some things unforgivable?”. Every time I have a discussion about forgiveness there are some people who fail to understand that it is a really difficult thing (and an occasionally painful one) to actually do. By some accounts we live in the age of outrage. Anger, blame, finger-pointing and demonizing is probably easier to do now than at any other point of our digital (and maybe societal) development. Yet, forgiveness, pops up even now.
Psychologists tell us that forgiveness is about our own mental health. In “The Sniper Mind” steps of mental and psychological development forgiveness is really about freedom. This makes it sound self-serving which, in a sense, it is.
There are a couple things here to consider, and they are linked: First, forgiveness is a personal journey. Second, because it is so personal it is also about forgiving not just others, but also our own self. There is such a strong resistance, at times, to apply forgiveness that it’s taken the words of a convicted murderer about to be executed to make us think.
“Everything in the mind has repercussions in the body”. In The Sniper Mind we learnt that we use constructs to create our reality and then filter all our decisions through it. When part of that reality contains personal pain we are reluctant to give it up because it would then require us to reconstruct what we think is real, a process which always requires a close re-examination of our own personal beliefs.
In her long and detailed dissertation titled: “Unforgiving Pain: A Qualitative Exploration of Chronic Pain and Self-Forgiveness”, psychologist Ellette K. DiPietro comes to the conclusion that our artificial separation of mind and body does more harm than good, sometimes by omission and sometimes by deletion of critical observations.
It is true that pain and loss define us in ways that hope never quite does. After all, both pain and loss feel more concrete. Being from the past, they have a feeling of substance and validation that hope can never quite achieve and, we tell ourselves, they are the steps (or shoves) that got us “here”. But that isn’t quite as true as we think it is. While pain (in any form) may be an inevitable part of the living process, suffering is not.
We have to choose to suffer. And we usually do so because dealing with our emotions is always more complicated and harder to do. Yet learning to control our emotions is easier to do than we might think. Pain, is of course important to us. So much so that some of us actively seek to experience it.
Here’s a truth: Pain is a stressor that causes neural and physical adaptations which are part of our development and growth. Knowing when to let go and when not to. Choosing when to suffer through inaction and when to actively seek suffering and pain through actions is part of the decisions and choices we make. Each of these, all of them, has consequences. The consequences of our decisions and choices make us who we are. In constructing our future self from the basis of the present, it is always better to do so on our own intent instead of allowing the actions, inactions, beliefs and judgements of others to shape us.
I know you’ve made the right decision and choices, which means you have coffee aplenty, alongside a mountain of donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.