Art is one of the most beautiful things about life. It stirs in us the appreciation of nature. It appeals to our hearts and affects our emotions in intense ways. Art is reflected on paintings, drawings, designs, beacons et cetera. It’s about creativity, performance and expression. It has no rules, no limits and limitations.
Forgiveness is An Art.
Like every piece of art, regular demands are made on the artist to deliver a masterpiece. Interestingly, to deliver a masterpiece requires talent and practice but more of practice. This is because talent is nothing without practice. Practice is a waste of time if it doesn’t lead to expertise. Expertise is the Himalayan Mountain of practice.
It’s in us to forgive. When it comes to forgiveness, there’s no rule, limit or limitation but the purpose has to be fulfilled otherwise it’s void.
Forgiveness follows the all-or-none law. In physiology, this law simply states (in paraphrase) that if a stimulus doesn’t exceed a certain threshold the nerve or muscle fibre will not have a complete response. This equally implies that when this threshold isn’t reached, there won’t be any response. You can understand why you are able to lift that cup or move about. Every movement made by your muscles has to obey this law otherwise those muscles are just lumps of meat.
Forgiveness works basically like that. It’s either done or it is non-existent. In forgiveness, there’s no common ground. There’s no incompleteness. It has to be total else it’s not forgiveness.
Why am I putting it this way? The truth is that no matter the offence, we can’t do without forgiveness. You have to forgive the offender and in certain cases, the offender isn’t just the other person but you.
We ought to come to that point in our lives where forgiveness isn’t an option but the condition. This is true because forgiveness is the elixir of offences.
What does forgiveness entail?
To forgive someone requires that you refuse to allow your negative thoughts and feelings to determine your reaction to that person.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have forgotten or had an amnesia of the event, (it happens sometimes) but you have decided to let go of the feelings of hurt, anger, dissatisfaction, disdain and malice.
Through forgiveness, you decide to make peace with the person, event or situation. You no longer want to fight but to open up yourself to life’s love, beauty and compassion. Forgiveness enables you to live free because unforgiveness entraps, chokes and obstructs the flow of energy in you.
Is forgiveness realistic?
Forgiveness doesn’t belittle your feelings, it actually recognizes and respects them. Unforgivingness persists because we feed the feelings and esteem them beyond what we ought to do.
Because you are not your thoughts, your feelings don’t define you, it’s time to begin to give a ‘best serving’ purpose to what goes on in your mind.
It’s time to move beyond the moment, past, person or situation. When it comes to forgiveness, you don’t need to achieve it in one second or one month. Depending on the situation, to subdue the feelings and emotions might take years of enforcement and reinforcement, emotional rollercoasters and high demands on your situation and personality management skills.
What matters is that you are on the path of redemption and freedom, and you are committed to living life and breaking free from the holds and shackles that are actually self-inflicted.
Do you know that many times who we are unwilling to forgive might be unaware of our states of mind? Imagine being marooned in an island without any means of getting back home yet no one knows you are there.
How about the fact that whatever happened has become one of the grains in the sands of time? You can’t undo what has been done. You can’t reverse the past. Even if it’s something you did, why would you continue to compromise your quality of life by not forgiving yourself?
I have been there before. I understand fully what it means to continually punish yourself for what you can’t change. I have had to deal with the pain and it doesn’t just feel bad, it also feels disgusting and demeaning.
Forgiveness can be difficult.
When you find it difficult to forgive, it’s high time you began to see it as a problem. Forgiveness is indeed an art. You will come across situations that will push you to your limits. There are times you may even think you are so good at it until something else happens. Then, you get angry, you slide into any convenient defense mechanisms. Depending on the one you grab unto, say, acting out, you could end up harming another person.
There are many ways to learn and practice forgiveness. However, to practice any of those methods, you need to take note of the following:
- Identify the problem
- Take responsibility
- Believe you can do it.
When it comes to methods you can apply, one of the popular methods is Hoʻoponopono. This is a practice of reconciliation and forgiveness native to Hawaii.
Take your time and move to a quiet place. Limit the distractions and begin to say the following:
- I am sorry
- Please forgive me
- Thank you
- I love you.
You say this four times to the person you need to forgive whether you or another person. You must not really follow the order. You can go from (d) to (a) as it pleases you. What matters is that you are committed to forgive. Take your time and focus on yourself to break free.
Another method is to talk about it with a third party who has no vested interest in the issue in question. There’s less chance of being emotionally influenced or being judgmental. Another good thing about this is that there’s an opportunity to see such situation from a different perspective. Many times, talking about things with others offer us the medium to vent and cool off. By the time the third party shares an opinion and brings a few things to our notice, we feel better and get inspired to make efforts to achieve forgiveness.
You see, forgiveness as an art is a process. It demands intentionality because you have to practice and be purposeful about it. The more we are committed to make it happen, the better. Recently, I had an interesting experience. An editor suddenly backed out from editing my work. I had waited for her to give me feedback about the manuscript until out of the blues, she backed out citing no reasons except chipping in a flimsy apology.
I was really hurt and disappointed having waited for her for some months, now this. Recounting the sacrifices I had made to finish the book and coming to terms with the forlorn expectations of her feedback, bearing in mind our earlier arrangements, I held myself from lashing out on her that instant. I just felt it wasn’t necessary.
However, I was not comfortable. I wanted to move on from the situation and have my peace of mind. After a while, I had to call a friend of mine who listened to me and encouraged me. Because I was willing to let go, the call combined with ho’ponopono, led to my salvation. It took several days to achieve this. Fast forward today, I am good. We are still friends on Facebook; I can comfortably respond to her posts and just go ahead. Even when the negative thoughts crop up, I make sure to act against them because they are not healthy. When you are faced with a choice between entertaining negative thoughts which will make you feel bad and doing good, choose to do good and you will ultimately feel good. This has been one of my all-time strategies in cases like this.
As we go on in life and continue to face situations, offend others and get offended ourselves, we’ll continue to develop our skills in learning and practicing forgiveness. Remember, it requires processes and strategies and you have to do it well to achieve it. In the Bible, God essentially provides us no limits as far as forgiveness is concerned. We are enjoined to love as we would love to be loved and love those who don’t even love us. Obviously, this is a big call. Since it’s not anyone that offends us hates us, it becomes necessary to learn how to forgive.