My Long Road to Forgiveness

Welcome to the last Format Free Friday of 2012, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

You may recall that at the beginning of 2012, I began a personal journey of forgiveness, all of which is documented in a previous post and linked to here. I began the process of forgiveness because a rift with one of my brothers was causing me great pain and I was concerned that it might negatively impact the level of peace that I’d recently achieved in my life. As a result, I set out on a year-long journey to forgive him. It’s important to point out that my intention was never to reconcile, rather, to rid myself of the resentment that was building up inside of me. If I could do that, I reasoned, I’d have developed the ultimate emotional muscle.  I would have the ability to remain peaceful regardless of others’ behavior. Lofty? Absolutely. Achievable? According to theory, yes.

I turned to the grandfather of forgiveness, Robert D. Enright, who authored the book Forgiveness Is a Choice. His book takes the reader through a series of writing exercises as a means to process various levels of anger, shame, and guilt, all of which, apparently, reside in people who fancy themselves ‘wronged’ by someone.

So here we are, 12 months since I began my journey into forgiveness, and I’m sure you’re wondering how I feel… I feel so good that I can barely recall the pain that drove me into this journey a year ago.  I have so properly worked through my feelings of resentment that, like a bad dream, I can’t recall the details. In short, I cannot say enough about the value of forgiveness or about the effectiveness of Enright’s methodology.

So what does this mean for you, loyal follower? If you have baggage from childhood, if years of therapy have failed to rid you of resentments, consider embarking on your own journey through forgiveness. You don’t need a shrink to guide you through it. You can buy the book, find a very committed friend and meet with her weekly to write for a couple of hours and then share your progress with her. The entire process could have been completed in 3-6 months. It doesn’t need to take a year. But do give yourself the gift of this unburdening. This year, instead of focusing on the 10 pounds of fat you’d like to lose, choose instead to lose 10 pounds of childhood baggage.  I’m here to tell you that once it’s gone, it doesn’t appear to come back, unlike the 10 pounds I lost earlier this year.