I was recently listening to a Clubhouse talk with Marina Yanay-Triner, Compassionate Somatic Coach and Ethan Lipsitz, Founder of The Love Extremist Project around the topic of Intuition and Healing. They were giving space for people to share their stories. A woman opened up and shared a story that blew my mind. She spoke of her abusive childhood at the hands of an unnamed man. She then went on to discuss her transformation and healing from being a victim to the ultimate forgiveness of her abuser. Not only did she forgive him, but they also forged a friendship, and when he passed away, SHE GAVE HIS EULOGY! This is one of the most radical and beautiful stories I’ve ever heard. The inner peace and strength and LOVE to not only forgive but to CARE about, understand, and LOVE the perpetrator.
This woman, in my mind, belongs in the realm of The Buddha or the Dalai Lama. I was so moved and so inspired. I found myself thinking about this woman and her story for several days after I listened to the talk. How can I take even a small piece of that ability and use it in my own life to free myself? All the petty annoyances and grievances I complain about.
I was on a mission to radically forgive.
After years of therapy, my ego believed, I had forgiven many in my past that in my eyes had “wronged me.” Then, oddly and devastatingly, one of my dearest friends chose to abruptly end our friendship. No conversation. No logical explanation that made sense to me. I was traumatized. Suddenly, all of my childhood wounds of abandonment and alienation were activated. Puddles of tears. Days and days of sobbing, sadness and rage. And then what? I do believe everything happens for a reason. It was no coincidence that I had just attended this Clubhouse talk days before the friendship “break up.” It’s still fresh. I’m still confused. But I’m already working on forgiving her for the gut-wrenching pain I have been feeling. People that hurt others, are hurting themselves. That much I know.
I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. I can’t “make her see.” What can I do? What is in my control? I can forgive in hopes of inner peace. I can forgive because I want to choose to lead with love in my heart.
However, I am not quite there yet. Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness is the end goal. For my own health and wellbeing, I know that forgiveness is where I need to be, but that’s going to take time.
The woman who forgave her abuser and ultimately spoke at his funeral took time. It took years and it is an extreme example, but there are lessons in forgiveness that each of us can use to shift our mindset.
The first step in shifting your mindset is realizing you have a choice. You get to choose to forgive. What is reliving the hurt helping you accomplish? Reliving the hurt can often be a repetition compulsion, like picking a mosquito bite scab. It hurts but we can’t stop. It is a choice. Stopping the thought and shifting to say out loud, “I HAVE A CHOICE and I choose to forgive” is very powerful.
Once you make that choice you must embrace forgiveness as a process. It is a commitment that you make that won’t happen overnight. Some days it will be easier than others, but it is not a simple choose and move on type task, forgiveness takes work.
Finally, focusing on the present is an important shift to help with the forgiveness process. What lessons has the person or situation you are forgiving taught you? What do you have that’s positive in your life right now, this very second, that you can put your energy into? Finding things in the here-and-now can help you leave the unhappiness and the stress of the past in the past.
Feeling wronged at times is part of moving through life as a human. Forgiving, though, is a mindset that you get to choose to shift to. In society, forgiveness is often framed as an act one does for someone else, but take a look deep inside… it is truly for them? Maybe, sometimes, but more likely, it’s for YOU and for YOUR health and wellbeing to come to a place of peace.
*Originally published on Brainz Magazine.
Joanna Hakimi is a proud entrepreneur and can often be found singing in the car with her two kids. Starting her first successful business when she was 17 and being president of the Young Entrepreneur’s Society at the University of Georgia, she never closed the door on opportunity. She then went on to Northwestern University and attained her Masters in Science, becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. After being a successful LMFT in the northern suburbs of Chicago for more than 15 years while simultaneously running a mindful goods boutique for 5 years and accomplishing a 200 hour yoga teaching certification, Joanna was itching for a new adventure. After a phone conversation with a friend in California discussing ways to grow her Life Coaching business, the idea came about that independent professionals, such as Life Coaches, Health and Wellness Coaches and other similar people in the life changing business, needed a resource to connect potential clients with the LifeChanger they were seeking. That’s how her newest venture, LifeChangers.Info was born. LifeChangers has a mission to connect professionals with a new client base using a simple and inclusive site. When she’s not seeing clients or working to grow LifeChangers.Info, you can find Joanna hiking, making terrariums or, well, singing in the car with her kids…likely to Billy Joel or Indigo Girls. You can follow Joanna on Instagram.
Image courtesy of Engin Akyurt.