There is a deep belief that in order to better ourselves or make peace with a situation, we need to forgive. This belief may be found deeply embedded in culture, religion and spirituality.
This is a problem because if we think about what is involved in forgiving, it requires a lot of the wronged person. So much so that it becomes another burden. We have an expectation that we can let it go, as if it didn’t happen or develop the habit of making excuses for the other’s behaviour, as if they can’t help themselves from doing what they do.
Many people forgive out a sense of duty or expectation in order to be considered ‘good’. The problem with this is it often results in repressed resentment and anger over the injustice.
It is true that hanging onto blame, resentment, anger and bitterness is damaging on many levels, psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually and does nothing to resolve the situation. There is no doubt these feelings need to be defused and resolved. There is another way.
In my early years I would often feel responsible for the feelings and responses of others and confused over what was mine, or theirs.
I was grateful to discover Family Constellations and its philosophy on this subject. Family Constellations encourages taking full responsibility for our own actions, choices, thoughts and feelings. We are responsible for ourselves and those in our care, such as children (under the age of twenty-one), or dependent sick or disabled.
We are not responsible for friends, colleagues or lovers. Such people are our equals. If these are healthy relationships, we ‘give and take’ equally over time in mutual support of each other. We are not responsible for their choices, thoughts, feelings or actions.
If we become clear about this we create really good personal boundaries that enable us to navigate our lives in a clear and positive way.
The family constellation philosophy is driven by a concept of natural Order: Each person in the family or friendship system having a rightful place. This has shown me another way that is so much more effective for letting go than the notion of forgiveness, that requires me to be ‘saint-like’.
Constellation philosophy requires us to have the maturity to reflect on our part in situations, take full responsibility for ourselves and then mentally or emotionally leave the responsibility of what others do, with them. This saves us from having to forgive them because they carry the consequences of their actions themselves.
In reality I am not better than them, as fundamentally we are equal human beings.
If I am acting in good faith and am not being provocative, rude or insensitive there is no reason why I should feel responsible, guilty or feel the need to save others from the consequences of their perceptions, beliefs and actions.
There is no need to excuse or forgive them, or take blame for things that are not mine, even if this is what they would prefer or have become accustomed to. This is treating them like helpless beings and enables their illusions and beliefs.
Their wellbeing or comfort is not more important than mine. We are each making our own choices and are responsible for the ensuing consequences.
Lets look at poor behaviour of friends or lovers.
Do you accept poor behaviour as if you deserve it, or do you on reflection, accept your part in full and simply leave theirs with them?
I have noticed once people take full responsibility for themselves there is a deep inner shift that allows them to come out of helplessness into empowerment. We can own our own choices and even the choice of allowing such people into our lives and staying as long as we did. The next step is to let go of how we think they ‘should be’ and stop blaming or taking blame for what is not ours and finally, if appropriate give or receive a sincere apology.
What if those concerned refuse to take responsibility for their part, or apologise?
We have a choice. If the other is not willing or able to take responsibility for their beliefs or actions, we cant and don’t have the right to force or change them. Only they can do that, if they choose. However we have a choice for ourselves here, we don’t have to stay. In most long-term healthy relationships, balance in the relationship may ebb and flow, but over time even out. If it does not and we continue to forgive without any redress or return to balance, the distance between us becomes too large and the balance of ‘give and take’ becomes too big to keep us together.
However, what goes around comes around. We are each responsible for creating our own reality. If we accept our part and leave what is theirs with them, forgiveness is unnecessary and unhelpful in the bigger picture of mature and equitable adult relationships and healthy self-respect.
We have the responsibility of choosing who we spend our time with and who we attract into our lives if we take back the reigns of our life.
I have found that very often we can philosophise and understand these ideas intellectually, but continue to feel over responsible or guilty and confused over what is ours or others in daily life. Family Constellations is an experiential process that can assist at a deeper level to find your place within your family system and create healthy boundaries. This flows into your daily life, naturally.
I use Family Constellations for systemic issues and Emotional Mind Integration for personal issues. I use a combination of both in Rapid Core Healing to assist individuals or couples find their own unique healing pathways. This includes resolving and letting go of stuck emotions without the burden and confusion of forgiveness.
I offer workshops, private and online sessions and training in Family Constellations and private and online sessions in Emotional Mind Integration and Rapid Core Healing.
I envisage a time where such knowledge is commonplace and practiced in family life and in education as a healthy base from which to embrace life and what it has to offer. Coming from such a place more of us can live in integrity and clarity with the capacity to consciously create connections that can sustain us and bring us joy.