February is when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and express our love for one another. It is also Choose Love Awareness Month and I have been sharing the components of the Choose Love formula on my social media. This Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26 and 27, please join me in attending the digital Choose Love Summit. There is an impressive lineup of speakers, including, the founder, Scarlett Lewis.
For the last nine years, I have been involved with the Choose Love Movement through my friendship with Scarlett. I met her six months after her son, Jesse, died in the Sandy Hook school shooting. The foundation to all the programs the Choose Love movement offers is in their formula Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion = Choose Love.
We often require a good dose of courage when working with forgiveness. This is the part of the formula I have wrestled with the most. My understanding of forgiveness has deepened through listening to Scarlett talk about how she came to the decision to forgive the shooter that killed Jesse. She felt like he was attached to her hip by a cord that she was dragging around with her everywhere. It was heavy and tiring. She decided to cut the cord and forgive him because she no longer wanted to be burdened by the feelings of anger and resentment that made her feel drained of energy. Scarlett has described how this is an active process that she has practiced many times. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time deal. You can watch Scarlett describe her process in this video.
Sometimes we think that offering forgiveness to another person means we accept the actions of the person who hurt us. However, when we forgive, we are not condoning the other person’s action, but rather relieving the burden of carrying around the uncomfortable emotions. What is important is that we are liberated from the weight and the loss of our own energy going toward the hurt.
“To forgive is to give up resentment or the desire to punish, to stop being angry with.” - Dr. John E. Upledger
From my observations in both myself and my clients, the process of feeling and acknowledging the complex array of emotions and sensations toward someone we perceive to have hurt or harmed us is challenging and uncomfortable. Yet it is a necessary step before declaring that we have forgiven someone if we want to clear the charge/memory that is held in our body. We can forgive on an intellectual level, in our minds, however without including our body we can find that we are not fully liberated.
As a client said to me last week as she got off the table, wiping away her tears, “Kate, this work is not for the faint of heart!”
As I shared earlier, forgiveness is a complex and often confusing concept for me. I would love to hear some of the ways you practice forgiveness. Please reply and let me know.