Most religions teach forgiveness. Forgiveness is a part of self-Love because when we forgive we receive peace of mind and healing on an emotional and spiritual level. But, is it easier to forgive a stranger or a family member? Don’t we tend to allow family members much more leniency where our boundaries are concerned?
I recently had an argument with some family members. We argued back and forth and one of them un-friended me…temporarily that is. However when my nephews new wife entered the picture and began verbally attacking me suddenly I realized that I had totally forgiven the members of my family and now despised this strange women that my nephew had recently married. I found myself hoping for their speedy divorce so everyone would see what a bitch and traitor she is
Yes it’s a good thing that I so easily forgave my family but it’s just as important to forgive strangers. I thought to myself; “screw that bitch who does she think she is? She doesn’t deserve my forgiveness!” However, my unforgivness or “resentment” toward her is not hurting her at all. On the contrary it’s actually hurting me. Resentments are poison that live inside out bodies until they make us physically sick. Furthermore a resentment can morph into full blown hate. And then into wrath where we are lashing out and spewing evil words from our mouth.
Jesus said “It’s not what enters the body that pollutes it but rather what comes out of the body that defiles it.” http://www.blueletterbible.org/bible.cfm?b=Mat&c=15 They say in A.A. a resentment is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to die. And really every resentment stems from a lack of love for one’s self. (Big Book page 417) http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_personalstories_partII.pdf
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation —
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,
And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober;
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p. 417 If I am angry at others it is something in me that is ill-at-ease that is sparking that anger. I know this. Please, I do not mean that anger is a “wrong” and “bad” emotion. It is a valid feeling that is part of the human condition. If I am angry there is a reason behind it if I can just get to it and understand it so I can let it go.
I have found that for myself most of my anger stems from my unreasonable and even slightly irrational desire to be perfect in my own eyes. If I say I want to be God it soundS ridiculous however, that is the core character flaw of most addicts and alcoholics in recovery. It is where controlism springs from and lord knows there are a boat-load of control freaks in A.A.
Ok but how do I go about forgiving someone I hate or am disgusted with? Journalling what happened and how it made me feel in regard to my resentment is very helpful as well and is part of the letting go process. Being as concise as possible when describing ny feelings is very important. Words like “I felt weird” or “uncomfortable”, “uneasy”, are not direct terms. If I felt insecure or afraid or the fear of loss, or hateful, angry lesser than or ashamed I should write it down.
Remember feelings of shame, fear, and insecurities do not have to be logical to be valid and real. If we shrug off every intense feeling because it is illogical to our intellect or originated in our past then we are still repressing emotions and they will eventually come out sideways usually at those we love most.
Firstly the most handy and simple solution is to pray for those we resent. Again, they teach this in A.A. and it’s also in the Bible Start by praying every day for the person we resent. If that doesn’t work then write out a formal fourth step to get to the bottom of what it is that we are really afraid of regarding the resentment. There is ALWAYS fear at the core of every resentment whether (Big Book step fourhttp://www.stepsfoundation.com/Assets/Documents/4thStepForm.pdf
I want to stop right here and interject one of the most important parts of the forgiveness process. In spite of what A.A. teaches about “my part” and EVERYTHING SURROUNDING A RESENTMENT BEING “MY FAULT”, the truth is there are abusers and very mean people out there who have not and will not hesitate to abuse small children in unthinkable ways. When we have been wronged it’s important that we don’t blame ourselves for not knowing how to let the pain and violence that was inflicted on us as children or adults, go. People can tell us all day long to forgive and “let it go” but if we don’t know how to let it go their instructions do us no good. Furthermore if I was abused as a child, as many addicts were it is clearly not my fault. Many of us tend to blame ourselves and beat ourselves up for things we didn’t have “a part” in. Granted if we hate our abuser then that is “our part” and we need to let that go by working the 12 steps.
It is apparent in A,A. that there are two types of people. Those who are much too hard on themselves and are hyper-aware of most of their character defect patterns. And those who remain in deep denial of their shortcomings and are incapable of recognizing their faults on their own. These types do well with a sponsor that will not hesitate to point out their shortcomings for them. As long as the light bulb goes off when their sponsor points out their patterns they can then work a successful fourth and fifth step….with their sponsors help. The hyper-aware types don’t need a sponsor to further point out defects they have already beat themselves up for for far too long. These types need a more empathic and nurturing type of sponsor, caring, compassionate, understanding. Both types are being nurtured in their own ways. What one man considers “disrespect” another man considers that same thing “love”. To each his own.
Making a Fear List is documented in the Big Book as part of the fourth step, of which many people overlook. Learning to identify the fear that lives behind our intense feelings is part of the life changing self awareness that comes to us when we work the 12 steps. However these fears live in us at a core, or root childlike level. Most people are ashamed of their core fears and rarely want to admit them to themselves much less to others in a fifth step. “The truth shall set us free”. If we address these core fears and share them their burden will be lifted from us along with the shame of who we are.
So many times we hear in A.A. “I don’t care what people think about me.” When in all reality if we don’t care what our fellows think of us then we are bordering on sociopath. It is completely natural to care what our fellows think of us and to fear what people will think of us as well. Fear of what people think of us should most likely be on our fear list. Ninth Step Promise “fear of people will leave us”, but not if we don’t do the work. We label this flavor of fear “society”.
The next big fear is “security”. who doesn’t fear losing their car or home once in a while. Specially if we live from week to week or moth to mon financially.
The third primary fear of loss is labelled “sex”. Fear of losing our sexual partner is a big on. So many character defects can be triggered by these fears of loss. Jealously, envy, greed, worry, lying, cheating, and stealing are all motivated by fear of not having enough money or enough control over our significant others. Where are they at? What time will they be home? Who were they talking to? Why were they out all night?
So we right down our fears and then we go one step further…Below the surface, why am I really afraid of losing my significant other? Two things 1. I am not trusting my Higher Power and 2. I have self-esteem issues, I don’t think I am good enough. If I were totally confident in myself and in God I would not fear losing the three S’s, sex, society, and security. 99 times out of 100 if I am disturbed it is because I am afraid of losing and I am not trusting God. So what’s the solution?
I repent of my lack of faith, trust, and I ask my Higher Power to forgive me and help me to trust Him, It, Her. Also working steps 10 through 12 on a regular basis will increase my self esteem and bring me closer to God through prayer and meditation
The 12 steps work. they were developed for addicts, thing is most people that work the steps do it at a very superficial level. Few people will admit that they fear and have self-esteem issues. Obviously is I have low self-esteem it will make me very ashamed and uncomfortable to broach the topic in a candid way.