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“Can we heal the wounds of the heart, can everything be forgiven?” Usually, when we ask ourselves this inevitable question, our centre of gravity is placed on the others and not on ourselves: “Can I grant them forgiveness? Do they deserve it? Does the seriousness of their action allow them this gift? Or not?”
But, implementing forgiveness is first and foremost a gift to ourselves. The goal is to free ourselves from the stranglehold of hatred, to dress our wounds, to heal our heart. As a consequence, our centre of gravity is no longer on others, but on ourselves.
So the question must actually be reformulated. Instead of asking ourselves: “Can I forgive everything?” (implying: the others), we really should wonder “Can I heal myself?” “Whatever wounds my heart has suffered, can I cure them, can I heal them?”
This is quite a reversal of posture!
What Can Forgiveness Bring Us?
Our priority is not to find out what forgiveness can bring our aggressor, but what it can bring us. We refocus on our own longing for integrity, unity, healing.
Parallel to that, granting our own heart this balm of forgiveness does not keep us from also appealing to our mind, our judgement, and using our common sense and intelligence to choose the right attitude when faced with our aggressors, depending on the seriousness of their actions, and on how aware they’ve become:
to sever all relationships?
or to go right ahead and bring charge?
“Can I heal my heart however serious the wounds suffered?” That is the real question to ask. So it’s not an answer to the initial question, but a reformulation of the original question since it stemmed from a false understanding of forgiveness as it prevails today.
Changing Our Point of View from Weakness to Strength
It is only by going deeper into what forgiveness really is – as this famous and clumsy question invited us to do, a question we have all asked ourselves at one point or another – that we can change our point of view, and end up reaching this new way of questioning forgiveness:
“Can I heal the wounds of my heart, however serious the wounds suffered?”
In light of the hundreds of testimonies gathered by the Forgiveness Project, and of those I received myself from the people attending workshops and forgiveness circles, the answer is thrice “YES ”:
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Yes, I can heal my heart.
Yes, I can cure.
Yes, I can pull out of the vicious circle of hatred, and the stranglehold of resentment.
But don’t forget, this kind of forgiveness does not necessarily mean excusing the others, nor does it mean condoning their actions. It doesn’t mean either being weak, cowardly, or lenient, bordering on injustice or stupidity. We can implement forgiveness and remain strong. We can free our heart and remain mentally lucid, while acting in a fair way. The love that rekindles forgiveness is a strong and brave love with, on top of it, the wisdom of an enlightened mind, not drowned in emotions.
We can implement forgiveness and remain strong. We can free our heart and remain mentally lucid, while acting in a fair way.
Changing Our Understanding of Forgiveness
The initial question, Can everything be forgiven? can be deluding. It directs our reflections in the wrong way, because it’s in itself the fruit of all the projections and confusion that normally surround the issue of forgiveness.
When we change our understanding of forgiveness, this question becomes irrelevant and disappears. At the same time, without this initial question, we might not have taken the time to deepen this subject until bringing to the surface something that is more genuine and more right.
Two other questions can now replace it:
What can I do for myself ? Can forgiveness help me find the peace of heart I long for?
What’s right to do for the other who did me wrong? Once my heart is in peace, what do common sense and discernment tell me to do?
With these two questions, I can make the difference between what’s happening in my heart and in my mind on the one hand, and on the other hand what I undertake for myself and how I react towards my aggressor. This double distinction underlines the importance of discernment in a genuine practice of forgiveness.
What Forgiveness Really Is
So, going deeper into what forgiveness really is, and how to implement it, is a great message of hope. Yes, it’s possible to heal our heart, whatever was undergone. But beware: possible does not necessarily mean easy and quick. However, the very existence of this possibility is already a great encouragement within us.
By comparison, I know it’s possible to climb Mount Everest, many highly trained mountaineers have done it. But would I be able to do it today? Not necessarily. However, I know that I can train myself, that I can progressively acquire the strength and condition that are necessary to make this effort that may exceed, for the moment, my physical capacities. If I don’t manage to do it immediately, I may be able to in a few weeks, or a few months.
If tomorrow something terrible happened to me, Olivier Clerc, would I be able to implement forgiveness straight away? Maybe not. It would be pretentious for me to be sure of that. My only conviction is that there is a path, and that even if it takes time, even if this path entails various successive steps, it would most probably be possible to take the time needed, at my own pace, as so many others have done.
A Better World Needs A Better Heart
Humanity nowadays is sick at heart, on a global scale. From the first to the last page of a newspaper, we read about problematic relationships, misunderstandings, conflicts, various forms of aggressions, violence, and war.
Behind the apparent diversity of the subjects raised – economy, politics, ecology, health and education, and so on – what we find is human beings faced with other human beings, who don’t manage to establish constructive and harmonious relationships, and who cannot manage, in an intelligent way, their disagreements and conflicts. And our modern world is dying of that.
To my mind, forgiveness is not an option, and even less a luxury. It’s the unavoidable transition to a better world that many of us long for. There will only be a really new or better world with a new or better heart, one that is healed, freed from its old wounds and sufferings, that stain and distort our relationships with ourselves and with others.
“To my mind, forgiveness is not an option, and even less a luxury. It’s the unavoidable transition to a better world that many of us long for.”
Any person who has experienced forgiveness knows what I mean. Don’t trust my words, check them for yourself. Find the means that speaks to you, the method that inspires you, and then experience this liberation, this healing of the heart. It will change your life forever . . . as my experience definitely did mine.
Have a great healing and I hope it all goes well for you!
Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved.
BOOK: Healing the Wounds of the Heart
Healing the Wounds of the Heart: 15 Obstacles to Forgiveness and How to Overcome Them
by Olivier Clerc
Choosing to engage in a conscious process of forgiving helps stop a spiral of destruction, cleanses the heart, and leads to relief, freedom, and inner peace.
Olivier Clerc identifies 15 obstacles to forgiveness--prejudices, confusions, misunderstandings--and discusses from where these perceptions originate and how they might keep us from taking the path to healing. Drawing from his years of forgiveness work as well as from the Forgiveness Project, he details four practical methods for forgiveness, each with a unique approach.
For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Olivier Clerc is a writer, translator, editorial consultant, and workshop leader. He is the founder of the international program Circles of Forgiveness, based on his life-changing experiences in Mexico with don Miguel Ruiz. With his wife, he created a yearly conference on forgiveness and founded the Association Pardon International (API). He is also the author of The Gift of Forgiveness.
Find out more about Olivier and his books at : http://www.giftofforgiveness.net/
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