FINDING PEACE THROUGH FORGIVENESS: 5 STEPS TO HELP YOU FORGIVE & RELEASE EMOTIONS THAT ARE HOLDI
Early on a cozy winter morning, I was sitting on my bed meditating trying to shake this anxious feeling. I felt off and I wasn’t quite sure why but I knew I was searching for that feeling of stillness and peacefulness.
During the meditation, I kept asking myself “What do I need to do to release this anxiety? What action can I take action to release these feelings that are holding me back?”
I took a deep breath and then another, allowing my breathing to calm me. After a few moments of focusing on my breath, my questions were answered in the form of an intuitive thought: In the process of forgiveness is where you will find peace.
Image by Ahmed Saffu. Source: Unsplash
Hmm. Interesting. Forgiveness? I was a bit confused on the message that was coming up, but I trusted my intuition so I thought let’s see where this leads. I began searching in my thoughts and in my heart and asking “Whom do I need to forgive? What do I need to forgive? What am I still resenting?”
My intuition re-directed those thoughts and softly nudged it’s time to forgive yourself.
Oh. Talk about a powerful insight coming straight from my higher self. That’s when I realized that my anxiety was stemming from a fear-based thought saying “you’re not doing enough.” A typical response to my Type A-Perfectionist-ways of always needing to do more while feeling like it’s never enough. Can you relate? It’s exhausting.
My heart was gently letting me know that it was time to forgive myself for demanding so much during this transformative period in my life. I’d been so hard on myself for not changing faster, adapting to new thought patterns quicker while continuing to manage my business.
What I mean by this transformative period is a journey of sorts that began a few months ago. This journey was an internal transformation to re-program certain thoughts, habits and beliefs that no longer served me. The decision to embark on this journey was triggered with the realization that my definition of how success is achieved had evolved. However, my actions towards achieving success remained the same. This contrast created a desire that required a shift in how I was operating.
As a business owner, I was still operating with habits from my decade-long career in corporate. Where success was achieved from a very push-to-achieve-results mindset. This process thus successful in terms of results, created stress and left me feeling drained time after time.
I brought those habits to my business without really questioning them. Until, I began working on a few projects and collaborations where I trusted my intuition and allowed for the magic (aka: success) to unfold without pushing. The results spoke for themselves. The ways of this newly discovered process felt effortless. I wasn’t drained or stressed throughout but instead felt inspired and energized to continue taking action.
This was a total game-changer for an entrepreneur.
I realized that when I operated from a heart-centered place instead of the push-to-achieve mindset that I was used to, I felt a deeper sense of fulfillment. This monumental awareness kicked off my transformation journey which brings us right back to that morning when I was meditating. That day had marked one month since I started my transformation. My ego was beginning to act out in the middle of so many changes which is what created the anxiety.
My heart was telling me to honor the process of the transformation while my ego was condemning my new ways.
By acknowledging what was going on, honoring my emotions and telling my ego to chill out, I immediately felt at peace as I was no longer avoiding what my heart was telling me. I was ready to listen to my intuition and forgive myself for listening to the demands of the ego.
The breakthrough that I had during that morning meditation led me to create this 5-step process. It is based on a combination of modalities and tools designed to honor the past, forgive the experience or the person that hurt you and release what no longer serves you.
Before diving into the 5 steps, I want to start by laying the foundation of the process as it is anchored in the act of forgiveness.
Forgiveness begins the moment you choose self-love instead of self-hate.
Believing that your happiness is worth more than holding on to a painful past situation or a person that hurt you.
Choosing that you deserve happiness, you are no longer willing to sacrifice your well-being.
Understanding that the more you hold onto to pain, the more pain it causes you.
Knowing that your resentment and anger will not change the situation or the person, however it will change you and how you view the world.
Releasing any pent-up feelings that are stirring up self-hate.
In the book “Letting Go” by David Hawkins, the author explains how humans experience a payoff from holding on to that residual of the painful experience. Which is why sometimes we hold on to these painful memories because there is an illusion of a benefit, a pay-off. He explains it by saying “A cheap payoff, that little inner satisfaction. It’s a weird, quirky, pleasure that we hang on to pain.”
Now, let’s dive into this 5 step process, where you will learn how my own forgiveness journey unfolded as I share my personal journal entries as examples for each step.
Take a few minutes and create a comfortable, safe space. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable. Encourage yourself by acknowledging that you are strong and capable of handling whatever emotions come up to the surface as you release and forgive.
#1. Honor your feelings
Begin by thinking of the situation or person that hurt you and that you want to forgive. Take out your journal and write everything that comes to mind from that experience. As you are writing, honor your feelings. Allow them to come up to the surface and flow through you. Don’t overthink or judge, just write.
As an example, here’s an excerpt of what I wrote in my journal:“Stéph, I’m sorry that I’ve been so hard and demanding. I’m sorry that I didn’t realize sooner that it was ego-based. I should have been more caring and nurturing during this process. You know by know that anxiety doesn’t led to success or fulfillment for that matter. In the past, the fear of thinking you weren’t doing enough led to feeling burned out. Taking advantage of this experience and remember when you’re feeling anxious to get on your meditation pillow. Don’t sit with that anxiety. Take a deep breath and honor where you are at in this process. You are more than enough.”
#2. Acknowledge your emotions
By releasing the painful feelings and memories on step 1, you can now acknowledge how they’ve been impacting your life.
On this step, think about how holding on to the experience and the feelings associated with it has impacted your life. This step helps you realize objectively that any feelings that you are holding onto from the past are potentially holding you back from living fully in the present.
You can read a personal journey entry an example of this step. “Listening to the demands of my ego and making myself manic is ridiculous and counter-productive. Feeling anxious drains my energy and takes me from being present in what I’m doing. Looking back, I see that this way of operating is not sustainable. Constantly feeling guilty for what I’m not doing and beating myself up for not doing more is creating a wobbly foundation. By listening to my intuition and trusting in myself I can be way more present than giving into anxiety and stress.”
#3. Explore new feelings
By now you’ve peeled a few layers and have a deeper awareness of how holding on to painful emotions has impacted your life. It’s time to explore new feelings.
Review your previous journal entries and highlight the top 3 feelings that you’ve been holding on to from that painful experience that you are ready to let go. Once you narrow it down, find the opposite feeling. Then write about how it feels to live your day to day with those positive and fulfilling emotions.
From the journal entries that I’ve been sharing, the main emotions for me were guilt and fear. The opposite of those emotions based on the context of my journey are serenity and joy. I wrote in my journal: “I feel serene when I operate from a heart-centered place. Looking back, when I started this transformational journey, I was seeking ways to create more serenity in my life. This desire gave me the courage to challenge the beliefs that were no longer serving me. This transformation has brought me joy because I know that now I am growing a business based on a strong foundation that fulfills me.”
#4. Forgive, release and forgive again
This step is about forgiveness and releasing the painful emotions that you’ve been holding on to. Remember, forgiveness is when you choose self-love instead of self-hate
Write a forgiveness letter to the person or situation that caused you pain. You won’t share it with them (unless you want to!). This will help you release that experience and truly let it go.
In my case since I am forgiving myself, I wrote a letter to me. Here is part of that journal entry. “I love you which is why I choose to forgive you. I forgive you for demanding so much of me, for making me feel guilty over the illusion of not doing enough. I forgive you for listening to the demands of the ego. I honor my courage because I know that willingly going on a self-transformation journey is not easy and it can bring out a lot of fear. I am so proud of ME! For choosing love over fear. These past few months have allowed me to get to know myself better. They’ve shed light on parts of me that have been hiding for years. I trusted in the journey and the rewards have been life-changing. I love you and forgive you Stéph”
#5. Connect with those feel-good emotions
Through this process, you’ve done the inner work. Through the actions of honoring and releasing those emotions, you let your mind and heart know that you made a change.
Now the last step is to communicate the change to your body through physical actions. Otherwise, there is a missing link between the body and the heart/mind. Think of if as if you were hosting a party and you ordered the food, cleaned the house but forgot to mail the invitations. No invitations means no guests which means no party.
Let’s get to it.
Start by taking a quick glance at those feel-good emotions that you wrote down in step 3.
For the next 7 days, make a point to connect with those feel-good emotions in order to create new consistent habits that make you feel good!
The way to connect with those feelings is by physically engaging your body in activities that make you feel those new emotions.
For example, as I shared in step 3, my new feel-good emotions were serenity, joy and self-love. An activity that brings me a ton of joy is coloring. I began by coloring for at least 20 minutes a day. After the initial 7 days, I felt so joyful that now it has become a daily practice.
So think of activity that creates the same feel-good emotions for you and commit to doing it every day for the next 7 days. Try it out & let me know how it goes!
Remember, forgiveness begins the moment that you choose between self-love instead of self-hate. Forgiveness is about choosing that you deserve happiness. What do you choose?