Lesson 3: Forgiveness Changes Perception
“The beauty of forgiveness is that it releases us from patterns in which we are caught. It releases us from being a victim and being caught in situations we do not like. Forgiveness changes our perception. When we see situations differently, things actually are different for us. Basically, all healing has to do with changing our perception and seeing things in a new light. Forgiveness allows us to live in a way that raises us above the situation; thus the situation changes.
Some people are afraid that forgiveness will lock them into a situation of sacrifice where they will continue to be abused. This is not the truth, because forgiveness actually shifts the relationship pattern, changing us and the other person. Any area where we feel stuck or any place where a person is bothering us is a place that calls for forgiveness. Every problem, temptation, distraction, and all busyness that is avoidance occurs because we are afraid to change. Guilt hides the place where we are afraid, and because we get stuck in it and the bad feeling, we do not recognize the healing and change that forgiveness brings. It is forgiveness that moves us through both the guilt and fear.” –Chuck Spezzano PhD
The recommended exercise is to take a look at the scarcity in which we live and places where we are in conflict, where we have illness or injury; where we are stuck and afraid to move forward. Spezzano says that these all hide a situation in which we have chosen not to forgive someone. He holds that every problem can be traced back to a relationship problem at its root. He asks that each hour today, we practice forgiveness in a certain area, relating to a person or situation. Say, “In this situation, I forgive you (naming the person)”, so that I am free. In this situation (naming it), I forgive (the situation) so that I am free.” With one moment of utter sincerity, these words can free us.
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This will be my exercise today. I will perhaps do it in my journal each hour and then report back at days end. I’ve done exercises like this before with Chuck and they can be very difficult because the ego is very tenacious! The first time I did it, he paired us up in twos and had us stand apart, but facing one another (at a distance representative of how much was standing in the way of us and the person we needed to forgive). We took turns standing in for each other as a representation of the people we wanted to forgive. At the time, I was still holding on to some bitterness of a past relationship in which there was infidelity on the guy’s part. I closed my eyes as Chuck talked us through the inner dialog, forgiving the other person. It all made sense and I really put my heart into it.
And then, as I thought we would be coming to a close, he went deeper! After imagining forgiving the person, Chuck said, “Now I want you to take this to another layer, to ask for their forgiveness. Ask them to forgive you for having used them and this situation as an excuse to hold yourself back…” I had my eyes closed, but inside they popped wide open in amazement. I was in uncharted territory. And you know what? That was one of the most cathartic moments in my life. Everything lifted off of me. I felt free and light, as if I had lost 20 pounds in that one instant. I think I actually jumped for joy.
The power of forgiveness is miraculous and I could use a miracle. I am going to pour my whole heart into this today…