Forgiveness, Compassion & Acceptance

Here is my second blog, if you haven’t read the first blog (my journey with persistent pain) yet here is the link to it I’m not blogging much at the minute as I am in the middle of writing a book, may be quiet for a while but wanted to get this blog written.

Why am I writing about forgiveness, compassion and acceptance together? Mainly because in my mind they go hand in hand and are all important in managing and changing pain as well as being able to fully engage with life. It is difficult to forgive without acceptance and compassion, also forgiveness needs a letting go of any negative emotions towards the other/others/self and wishing them well. This is also part of compassion (for example, wishing the self and others to be happy and healthy). Compassion is an important part of looking after ourselves, others and our planet, it is needed to change suffering and is an important part of our wellbeing. I want to keep this blog short and easy to read so am not going to define compassion or go into much detail, basically being compassionate means that we have recognised suffering and are motivated to take action to relieve some of the suffering

How did I forgive myself, and those who had been the bullies, and why was self-compassion and forgiveness needed? Self-compassion was needed to recognise and accept all the effects the bullying had had without self-blame or any other judgement, there was a time where I felt at fault. I needed to forgive those who bullied me, who had caused changes to my health and wellbeing, and had affected many aspects of my life. As I was building confidence and finding a way to be that didn’t involve fear I knew I needed to let go of some unhelpful emotions (including residual anger, fear and why me questions). These had served their purpose of protection and it was time forgive, accept, let go and move forwards in the way I intended to. Emotions and pain our part of our protection mechanisms, to ensure we are safe and ultimately survive. It was necessary to see through the lens of compassion to see the bullies and their suffering and wishing them to be happy and healthy, this allowed the door to forgiveness to open. This is not easy to do and needed mindful awareness of emotions and my state (for example breathing changes), I called upon my learning throughout life, especially from the study of yoga. At the time of being bullied at school and after I used to tell myself “bullies bully for a reason”, yet this did not help my self-criticism nor the other affects from being bullied at school and later in the workplace. Mindful awareness and compassion enabled me to gradually make changes, along with the love and social support and the other things mentioned in the first blog. This also helped ensure I didn’t become overwhelmed by emotions, known as emotional regulation. Being overwhelmed by emotions can block changes, if you get emotionally overwhelmed please seek the help of a Psychologist or other suitably trained professional.

To forgive also needs acceptance of what has happened with recognition and understanding of the impact on our wellbeing without judgement or blame. In doing this I recognised the past still had a hold of me and was affecting how I was showing up in the now, which didn’t match my intentions in a way of being or showing up in the world. A Psychologist, Dr Deborah Kingston, recently used a metaphor when describing how we can become stuck in the past – how do you think you can move forward when one foot is in quick sand in the past and the others in the now, how can you move forwards, do you have three legs? I understood this metaphor as this used to be me! If we have a foot stuck in the past how can we fully learn and grow in the now, creating the future we envisage? In short we can’t, we need to see something, accept it and often develop understanding on some level before we can make changes. It may be at this point forgiveness comes in or maybe this has already been done and it’s through the lens of compassion we accept and move forwards.

Forgiveness, acceptance and compassion go hand in hand and all have a role to play in emotional regulation and pain management. The process of forgiveness through compassion and acceptance is one of many things that has built my resilience, watch out for a blog on resilience (I won’t say soon as book writing has priority). I wouldn’t change any experiences I have had in life, or the choices I have made, they have all created how I show up in the world now and have made me the person and integrative therapist I am today. Resilience and compassion are ways of being, they are two things I always intend to be part of the way I show up each day.

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