We are able to forgive because we are able to recognize our shared humanity.
The wisdom inherent in forgiveness arises when we are able to hold our story in more spacious awareness. Our small story makes way for a larger story and a broader perspective. We see that what happened — as personal as our pain feels — was also the result of many interdependent causes and conditions. “My story” becomes “our story” as we begin to see the common humanity between ourselves and the person who hurt us. Jack Kornfield describes this beautifully when he says, “There is an undying capacity for love and freedom that is untouched by what happens to you. And to come back to this, to know its true nature, is the invitation of the work of forgiveness.”
For this exercise, we’ll be considering whether it’s possible to consider the circumstances of an unforgiven situation with fresh eyes, “rewriting” this inner story to include not just yourself, but also the humanity of the person who hurt you.
This exercise doesn’t negate, diminish, or dismiss your pain. It simply brings the potential for a degree of freedom to long process of forgiving by broadening our perspective and recognizing our shared humanity and imperfection.
- For this journaling exercise, please choose a situation:
- that is in the past;
- about which you still feel moderate anger or hurt with another person;
- for which you are willing to consider forgiveness.
You will need to choose carefully, because not all situations are ready to be forgiven.
- In your journal, free-write a fuller version of your story, transmuting it from just the story of “you” to the story of “us.”
- Remembering that touching the pain is a necessary part of the process of forgiveness. So as best you can, taking care to tend to any difficult feelings as they arise with your self-compassion skills.
- Go as slowly as you need to. Perhaps revisit this exercise over a few journaling sessions if you that helps.
- You may find after completing this exercise that it will be helpful to tell this revised story to a trusted friend, or even a beloved pet.
- How does the exercise change (if at all) your feelings toward the situation, this other person, and yourself?
- If you chose to tell your new story to a trusted friend, what was that experience like? The aftereffects?