Don’t Rush into Premature Forgiveness

%22All-embracing%22 - Artist - Heidi Vaught -

We have to accept the legitimacy of our pain before it can be fully transformed.

In order for forgiveness to be authentic, we have to acknowledge the reality of the transgression that occurred and the legitimacy of our resultant anger.  Depending on the level of conflict, it can take a while. We give away our power when we dismiss the intensity of our anger or don’t take the time to really unpack what is beneath it.

Forgiveness of self and other is the ultimate liberator–but only if it is  the byproduct of an authentic transformation. 

It can’t really be faked. You can tell by listening to your body–there will still be a tension, even if your mind is saying “I forgive.”

Authentic forgiveness is the end result of a process, not a knee-jerk response because someone apologizes and says ‘I’m Sorry.” It’s common for women to feel pressure to forgive out of guilt and because others think we “should” forgive.

Owning your anger is a form of owning your worth.

moon child by aatmagaialive

Take the time you need to understand what the anger is really about. Allow anger to energize you in your quest for what is right and true for you. Ultimately, it’s not really about the other person who made you angry, it’s about utilizing the situation to discover  a deeper level of insight and truth within yourself.

Waiting until you are genuinely ready to forgive is a way of resting in your power and integrity.

One of the most empowering things I’ve ever done is allowed myself to process my anger with an open-ended timeline while in the midst of a major conflict. While the other person was pressuring me to forgive and forget,  I respectfully said that I needed to take time and space to fully process my feelings.

Forgiveness was the natural result of processing my pain all the way through until nothing was left but love–love for the other person, love for myself, love for Life. By taking the time to bring awareness to the complex feelings under the anger, the conflict had served its purpose to deliver me to a deeper level of intimacy with Life. Even though the relationship did not continue, I was able to leave it with love. If I had forgiven prematurely before I was ready, the forgiveness would have been superficial and the deep transformation would have been bypassed.

“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges–the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”

~Eckhart Tolle

Minerva - Auguste Rodin

Don’t rush into premature forgiveness. 

In one of his poems, Hafiz advises the reader “Do not surrender your grief so quickly. Let it cut more deeply. Let it season you the way few human or divine ingredients can.” I would say the same about anger. Let anger ripen your soul’s truth. Let anger stoke the fire of power in your belly and the wild purity of your heart. When approached with awareness and respect, the energy of anger can be very cleansing and put things into a clearer perspective. It can arouse a deeper commitment to love more fiercely and to surrender more completely to what you know to be true.

When fully felt without a particular narrative or story, anger has a purity to it that is a straight-line into truth.

Harness anger for its gifts. 

Eve by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer

When conflict is approached with the attitude that it holds the opportunity for transformation we don’t feel the pressure to rush into forgiveness. We can let ourselves marinate in the in-between space between anger and forgiveness where a deeper truth can be revealed–potentially a deeper truth that can change your life.

Feeling like a victim, feeling helpless and in despair are completely valid, temporary feelings in the cycle of wounding and healing. Just don’t get stuck there–let it continue to move through you so that it can ultimately transport you to wisdom.

Rage is a powerful emotion and needs to be processed in a safe, supportive environment. Finding a safe place to process our anger and rage is an important form of self-care.

You are worth the time it takes to process your pain. 

Imagine all the women of the world tapping into their anger and using that powerful energy in a way that liberates everyone, a way that gets to the deeper truth in the heart of all people that is waiting to be summoned forth in a larger way.

We are powerful, divine beings. Sometimes our power can take the form of anger. This anger that can be used as a force for good, a force for truth. This is  the power of Kali, the embodiment of the destructive power that clears the way for new life.

Anger is our body’s way of saying “Something in my life needs to change in order for me to fully live.”

%22An Indian woman floating lamps on a river%22 by William Daniell

The feminine wisdom available in our anger is needed right now in the world. And it’s part of the reason women’s voices have been silenced for so long. It’s time to claim the right to be angry and to own the legitimacy of our anger in ways that model a new level of integrity and self-love to the collective communities we are a part of.

  • Are there any old resentments in your life that need to be acknowledged?
  • How can you work with your anger to empower your growth and transformation?
  • What in your life needs to end so that you can live a fuller, more authentic life?

© Bethany Webster 2013

Thank you for reading! I invite you to leave a comment below. What has been your experience with anger and premature forgiveness? 

Sign up here to receive my newsletter! 

(Art credits: All-embracing by Heidi Vaught, Minerva by Auguste Rodin, Eve by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, An Indian Woman Floating Lamps on a River by William Daniell)

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18 thoughts on “Don’t Rush into Premature Forgiveness

  1. I am constantly amazed at how often what you write arrives in my inbox exactly when I most need it!
    I have been working with anger for about a year now. I can’t find it. At least I can’t express it. When I first decided to explore why I don’t feel angry, even when I have been hurt, I felt numb, the first few months of exploration just gave me numbness as a reply. Lately I have just begin to identify what happens before I go numb, I breathe from much higher in my body, even become breathless, and if I really pay attention, when I am alone, I feel the sensations I would normally associate with absolute terror whirring around somewhere between my heart and solar plexus. What you write here helps me to understand why I have not been able to forgive and move on from a relationship break up that happened nearly 7 years ago. I, from time to time, in a bid to be more fully present in subsequent relationships, ask why I can’t forgive this man who left me. I haven’t fully allowed myself to feel angry. I don’t even know if I would recognize the sensations. The occasional times I have burst out in uncontrollable anger in my life are so unexpected to me (and everyone else!) that I have no time to notice how it feels. It’s like somewhere along the way I have disallowed this emotion, so now I am afraid to feel it as much because I don’t want to hurl it at anyone, as because I am guessing I am afraid of it myself, that, or the consequences of it. I have such a sense of my power being tied up in that same place as the anger and I feel frustrated that I can’t access it at the same time as the terror of it.
    Your words help me to understand why I don’t feel love deeply, I don’t feel anything deeply. I am too afraid. I have never met anyone I felt safe enough with to express my full range of emotions, perhaps I have never even expressed them to myself!
    I love your blogs. They are like gifts. Thank you.

    • Dear Steph, thanks for leaving a comment! So happy to hear that the posts are helpful to you! A safe way to process anger on your own may be to simply write in your journal all the things you are angry about. Then do something physical like a brisk walk to help move the energy out of your system. Sending you love!

  2. For me, grief has been a gateway to anger. I was terrified for so long of feeling really deep, overwhelming emotion, because I was terrified it would never end or I would get lost in it. I did finally learn how to feel my deep grief, and I went to it first because it’s something women are allowed to do. I felt horribly wrenched apart by the grief, but I survived. It’s only now that I am allowing myself to become really immersed in my anger as well, for now I know I will survive it, and be all the better for it. But still, after years of work, it amazes me that I still have to dig in to find and express the anger. I still feel the pressure to hide it, that good girls don’t get angry. And what a loss we suffer, as human beings looking to grow into our best selves, when we don’t allow the anger to teach us its truly beautiful lessons.

    Thank you for another insightful, thoughtful, heart-opening post!

    • Hi Stacyeverydayhealing! You make so many great points in your comment! The “good girls don’t get angry” stereotype is so powerful and a hard one to shake. As we gain the courage to face our anger we start to break the bind of it and see the gifts that await us. Thank you for sharing that!

  3. Pingback: The Perils of Premature Forgiveness | facingthefireswithin

  4. I feel this is a very important way to consider forgiveness…too often we may hear, “Forgive and forget”, which apart from being invalidating, does not allow for processing of the pain and feelings that we are really aware of. Only then can we truly forgive and move on; otherwise, resentments may grow unchecked and wreak havoc in our relationships and lives. Thank you so much, Bethany, for your insight into forgiveness.

  5. true, true…still having dreams of helplessness and rage from my youth…never “felt” it all because it seemed so huge that it would destroy me…to survive just stuffed it and moved forward…i’ve been lectured at about forgiving and forgetting, but it’s been impossible…i’ve never forced it out of respect for my beaten soul…the only sliver of respect i felt i could give myself…will start working on the feeling, owning my experience that way too

  6. Beautiful said Bethany. In my own experience, I found that much of my frustration and anger outward was projection of my internal world that I wasn’t conscious of. As I became aware of that relationship of projection, I could now ask illuminating questions that brought my awareness to how I treat myself and how I empower and disempower myself. I discovered that It was my own anger at myself that needed validation. That lead to understanding what was alive for me and how to problem solve, and my own forgiveness and unconditional love became a natural flow as there was a growing relationship of listening between my many inner personalities.

  7. I agree with Steph’s comment….the timing of receiving your articles/ newsletter is uncanny. What you write about and even the way you do it, really helps to see and feel a bit differently about things, self and life. “Freedom to be ordinary” (on your other blog) is quite profound. :D Thanks for sharing, Bethany. Best wishes in your new home.
    Radhika

    • Dear Radhika, Thank you so much for your feedback! It’s great to hear that posts are finding their way to you in the right way and in the right time. I just love that! Happy to be part of your journey! Much love ~Bethany

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