We have to accept the legitimacy of our pain before it can be fully transformed.
In order for forgiveness to be authentic, we have to acknowledge the reality of the transgression that occurred and the legitimacy of our resultant anger. Depending on the level of conflict, it can take a while. We give away our power when we dismiss the intensity of our anger or don't take the time to really unpack what is beneath it.
Authentic forgiveness of self and other is the ultimate liberator.
It can't really be faked. You can tell by listening to your body--there will still be a tension, even if your mind is saying "I forgive."
Authentic forgiveness is the end result of a process, not a knee-jerk response because someone apologizes and says 'I'm Sorry." It's not just an impulsive decision to forgive out of guilt and what you feel you "should" do, which is very common in some spiritual circles and enmeshed families.
Owning your anger is a form of owning your worth.
It's OK to be angry. Take the time you need to understand what the anger is really about. Allow anger to energize you in your quest for what is right and true for you. Ultimately, it's not really about the other person who made you angry, it's about utilizing the situation to discover a deeper level of insight and truth within yourself.
Waiting until you are genuinely ready to forgive is a way of resting in your power and integrity.
One of the most empowering things I've ever done is allowed myself to process my anger with an open-ended timeline while in the midst of a major conflict. While the other person was pressuring me to forgive and forget, I respectfully said that I needed to take time and space to fully process my feelings.
Forgiveness was the natural result of processing my pain all the way through until nothing was left but love--love for the other person, love for myself, love for Life. By taking the time to bring awareness to the complex feelings under the anger, the conflict had served its purpose to deliver me to a deeper level of intimacy with Life. Even though the relationship did not continue, I was able to leave it with love. If I had forgiven prematurely before I was ready, the forgiveness would have been superficial and the deep transformation would have been bypassed.
“There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges--the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.”
Don't rush into premature forgiveness.
In one of his poems, Hafiz advises the reader "Do not surrender your grief so quickly. Let it cut more deeply. Let it season you the way few human or divine ingredients can." I would say the same about anger. Let anger ripen your soul's truth. Let anger stoke the fire of power in your belly and the wild purity of your heart. When approached with awareness and respect, the energy of anger can be very cleansing and put things into a clearer perspective. It can arouse a deeper commitment to love more fiercely and to surrender more completely to what you know to be true.
When fully felt without a particular narrative or story, anger has a purity to it that is a straight-line into truth.
Harness anger for its gifts.
When conflict is approached with the attitude that it holds the opportunity for transformation we don't feel the pressure to to rush into forgiveness. We can let ourselves marinate in the in-between space between anger and forgiveness where a deeper truth can be revealed--potentially a deeper truth that can change your life.
Feeling like a victim, feeling helpless and in despair are completely valid, temporary feelings in the cycle of wounding and healing. Just don't get stuck there--let it continue to move through you so that it can ultimately transport you to wisdom.
Rage is a powerful emotion and needs to be processed in a safe, supportive environment. Finding a safe place to process our anger and rage is an important form of self-care.
You are worth the time it takes to process your pain.
Imagine all the women of the world tapping into their anger and using that powerful energy in a way that liberates everyone, a way that gets to the deeper truth in the heart of all people that is waiting to be summoned forth in a larger way.
We are powerful, divine beings. Sometimes our power can take the form of anger. This anger that can be used as a force for good, a force for truth. This is the power of Kali, the embodiment of the destructive power that clears the way for new life.
Anger is our body's way of saying "Something in my life needs to change in order for me to fully live."
The feminine wisdom available in our anger is needed right now in the world. And it's part of the reason women's voices have been silenced for so long. It's time to claim the right to be angry and to own the legitimacy of our anger in ways that model a new level of integrity and self-love to the collective communities we are a part of.
- Are there any old resentments in your life that need to be acknowledged?
- How can you work with your anger to empower your growth and transformation?
- What in your life needs to end so that you can live a fuller, more authentic life?
© Bethany Webster 2013
Thank you for reading! I invite you to leave a comment below. What has been your experience with anger and premature forgiveness?
(Art credits: All-embracing by Heidi Vaught, Minerva by Auguste Rodin, Eve by Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, An Indian Woman Floating Lamps on a River by William Daniell)