Forgiveness is a really complicated one for me. A rather painful process, trying to forgive the things that have hurt us the most can feel like we’re going against the natural desire to protect ourselves.
But that’s the silly thing about fighting off forgiveness as an act of self-defense; it has the opposite effect, giving the ‘offender’ prime real estate in our minds. Power over our state.
One thing that’s come naturally as my meditation and yoga practice deepened, is a natural sense of curiosity about another person’s motivations – it’s always so much more about them than it is about us. This curiosity helps create a bit of distance from my grabbing emotions, and with it I’ve found myself less frustrated by day-to-day situations, learning more from the everyday interactions that used to weigh me down.
Besides being a more compassionate, enjoyable way to live, it turns out I can take much better care of my interests without agitation and resentment clouding my mind. But when it comes to the really big stuff, curiosity and detachment don’t quite cut it. The strategy I’ve developed doesn’t sound super zen, but has absolutely changed my life.
In these situations, I aim to manipulate and leverage my own ego, using selfishness as a tool to forgive the unforgivable.
I was sexually assaulted three times between the ages of 17 and 20, and I held onto those well-earned grudges with everything I had. Replaying visions of retribution like a self-destructive drug, my anger and resentment gave these men power over my mind long after the panic attacks faded. Had you approached me suggesting forgiveness at this time, you would have received a long list of extra-special expletives in return.
But time and self-reflection can work wonders, and eventually it wasn’t about them. Every survivor has the right to struggle, and deserves compassion and support throughout their own recovery process. But the way I approached mine certainly wasn’t doing me any favours. I’m likely no more than a blip in those men’s memories, and they don’t deserve to occupy such large, damaging real estate in my mind.
So I came to see forgiveness as more of a reclamation.
This, combined with becoming an advocate and finding the gifts from some particularly shitty experiences, felt like the biggest, most empowering fuck you ever.
Now expletives may not be the standard quo of spiritually-minded forgiveness. But when we look at the Bhagavad Gita (an ancient text revered by the Tantrics and yogis), the climax of the story teaches readers that there are certain situations that call for the use of force. I like to think of my expletive-laden, selfish approach as just that; a warranted mental force to drive forgiveness and self-care.
So if you’ve held out on forgiving someone, I’m not throwing out any blame or judgment your way. It’s your mind, your choice. I’d just encourage you to explore how much mental real estate they’re getting, and whether they really deserve it.
Tantra is Love Team