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Understanding Forgiveness - Part 7

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Establishing Forgiveness as a Habit


This Weeks Video

Applying forgiveness to any situation that requires it, can be quite challenging. So, is it possible to have a consciousness of forgiveness that naturally, and easily flows when the circumstances demand it? Can conscious forgiveness become a habit?

To form a habit, we have to regularly repeat in action, and/or thought, the thing we want to be habitual. To do that we first have to be motivated to want to do that. The regular repetition needed to develop any new neural pathway (new habits) must produce an outcome that aligns with what we desire most, otherwise we won’t be able to sustain the effort that is required to adopt the new consciousness. Drugs are a perfect example. The euphoric experience one feels having taken a drug, very quickly instils into the consciousness of that person, the desire to have that euphoric experience again, and again, and again etc. That is the catalyst, the motivation that result in the development of a drug habit.

Forgiveness generally doesn’t create a euphoric experience. In fact, for most of us, forgiveness is something we know we have to do if we want to ‘get to heaven’, but would prefer not to do if we could avoid it. Right? There is nothing about forgiveness that is going to fuel a habit in the same way a drug addiction does. Can you imagine being addicted to forgiveness? LOL!!

I know this is a far stretch, but it is all about what you value. Typically, you will only spend your resources (time, money and talent) on those things that you value. What we value, for the majority of us, has emerged from our familial, social, and cultural programming. As such, most people don’t choose their values. The childhood programming establishes subconscious values, only evidenced by how you spend your time and money. These values are mostly focused around wealth, power, romance, and success. All of which are unsustainable since they are easily impacted by natural justice, the passage to time, and the wheel of fortune.

Instead of seeking an attitude of forgiveness when what we value has been impacted, we typically resort to blame and survival. In contrast, if what you valued more than anything else was peace, love, and joy, then you would naturally resort to forgiveness and understanding. This idea of values determining our response to challenging situations was described by Ella Wheeler Cox in her poem The Set of the Sails:

One ship sails East,

And another sails West,

By the self-same wind that blow,

‘Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,

That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea

Are the waves of time,

As we journey along through life,

‘Tis the set of the soul,

That determines the goal,

And not the calm or the strife.

“‘Tis the set of the soul” “and not the gales” of loss and trouble that determines what we experience. If your values hold no attachment to wealth, power, romance, or success, and circumstance take them away, it has little or even no impact at all. In that moment of release, your commitment to living mindfully isn’t disturbed. You can maintain the commitment to remembering that you have the choice to be kinder to yourself, and to others when the set of your sail is love and peace. Of course forgiveness is the mechanism for maintaining that state of love and peace.

So the real issue here is how does one go about rearranging their values, such that forgiveness becomes one’s modus operandi. First and foremost, you have to identify what it is that you value. If we were to see money as stored energy, the symbol of how we have already spent our time and talent (and in the case of a loan, how we will spend it in the future), then firstly we become aware of how we are expending all of our energy. The ‘why’ is a different matter. We have to become aware of why we value those things in the way that we do.

Fundamentally, we value what establishes our worth. Through the programming of our formative years we developed a belief about our worth, and then strive throughout the rest of our life to be identified with those things that maintain our sense of worth. These become the things that we value. It can be extrapolated that when we lose any of those things that we value, as much as our grief is about the loss of those things, it’s more about the impact it has on our sense of worth that is tied up with what we value.

It then makes sense that if we have no attachment to wealth, power, love, or success, and justice, time, and chance take them away, it will have little or no impact. The interesting thing is that justice, time, and chance can’t take away peace, joy, or love (this love is agape love, divine love so as to speak) because nothing can impact on them unless we choose to be impacted. When we can establish that our worth comes from ‘within’ and is not defined by possessions, other people or esteem, then it’s easy to subscribe to the idea that another’s hurtful behaviour is a call for help. It is very obviously an issue tied up with their lack of self-worth.

Imagine a life without suffering! Wouldn’t that be gold? Now, that is something worth valuing. When you have reached that point in your awareness that peace and wellbeing are the things that you want more than anything else, then forgiveness becomes the new habit. Why? Because forgiveness sustains peace, love and joy, which collectively fuels wellbeing.

While we are still governed by our childhood narrative (the programming of our formative years) we are more inclined to be judgemental, the easiest way to maintain those external measures that prove our worth. Additionally, if we are feeling ‘unworthy’, the best approach is to make someone else feel worse than we do, which has the appearance of elevating our worth. There is no room for forgiveness in any of this. Forgiveness is redundant.

When we have learnt to value peace, love, joy, and wellbeing, then forgiveness becomes our primary function. Yes, it is possible for forgiveness to become a habit!

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