We can’t go under it
Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!
Emotional healing works the same way. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder finally rid himself of recurring flashbacks by leaning into the emotions they triggered, feeling them as bravely as he could. Doing this in short sessions, again and again, allowed him to relax with his vulnerability. “Little by little, as he let the feelings arise, build in intensity, and pass away, his overwhelming sense of guilt and failure began to lighten up, and for the first time in three years, he was able to sleep through the night.”*
Fred Luskin (Forgive for Good) says that forgiveness has only two steps: grieving and letting go. Grieving, after you have been wronged, means letting yourself feel the anger, hurt, and trauma in all its original pain.
We can’t let something go until we’ve firmly grasped it. It’s not fun and it may be scary. But, it’s real life…and it’s real healing.
As the book says, “Oh no! We’ve go to go through it!”
The only people we can really change are ourselves. Forgiving others is first and foremost healing our own hearts. Henri Nouwen
Here is a woman’s testimony on how she forgave her mother by realizing that her mother was acting out of her own understanding…doing the best she could do (watch video).
*Story as told by Pema Chodron, “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,” pg. 121.