In business & life, we occasionally talk about the advantages of empowerment. An empowered person is much more capable of happiness, success, health, and positive connection. We usually link confidence with empowerment and look to build self esteem if we lack it.
I think another, less examined, factor in empowerment has to do with whether or not we have an effective forgiveness practice. Without forgiveness, we cannot access are full power. As much as empowerment has to do with confidence, it’s distinct from the kind of power that comes from an egotistical self view. So then, empowerment is not just about confidence. It’s actually about our connection to self power, and the acknowledgment that disempowerment happens if we’re ever cut off.
Imagine our own power as a source of energy, no different than the electrical current that we access when we place a plug into a socket. If that electrical current is interrupted or blocked, our lamps won’t light and our phones won’t charge.
For those of us who imagine human beings having an aspect called “soul”, there are certain experiences that can cut us off from that very part of us that creates our aliveness. In this view, mobility and intellect are not the only source of aliveness.
We know that emotional wounds exist and that physical wounds exist. We’re also familiar with the experiences that cause these wounds. The soul is more mysterious. What happens when our souls are wounded – when our source of aliveness is disrupted?
I tend to think that it’s our soul wounds that cause disempowerment. We almost say what we think, but then we stop ourselves. We almost believe we can get to a goal, but then we self-sabotage. We don’t even risk imagining we are good enough to have something we most want. This is the experience of a disempowered person – they don’t believe in themselves. They have been cut off from their source of power because of a certain type of woundedness.
Wounds of the soul require spiritual solutions. We need not be religious or spiritual to use spiritual solutons; we need only recognize that there appears to be a deeper part of what we are that causes aliveness – and that this part of us seems to be separate from our bodies or our thoughts.
That part of us thrives on deeper meaning and deeper purpose. And so, if it’s wounded, the cause must be at the level of meaning and purpose. Perhaps we believe that people are honest, who then betray us. Perhaps we think that doing good work towards a mutual goal will result in a mutual reward, but then someone acts selfishly. Or, maybe we spend a lot of time participating in experiences that are shallow – that don’t go deep – and over time, we begin to feel lost.
How do we go about healing spiritual wounds, when, ultimately, they affect everything from our happiness and success to our health and our wealth?
There are multiple solutions, many of them taught through various spiritual traditions. A popular solution is meditation and mindfulness. Another is prayer, or to seek answers in a prayerful way. Yet, the solution that I personally favor is forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the ability to retrieve all of the power that was lost in the stressful interactions of life. Self-forgiveness is necessary when we go against ourselves in some way, including through the experience of self-sabotage. Otherwise, forgiveness is about other people and outside experiences. It’s about the apathy, the lies, the hate, the rejection, the anger, the deceit, the meanness, the dismissiveness, the mistakes, the violence, and the projections. It’s also about the circumstances outside of our control that have a negative impact, such as in the case of a home that’s lost in a fire, or the untimely death of a loved one.
We have to learn to let go. We have to learn to let the love be bigger than the pain. That’s when our power comes back.
When it comes to the people we have yet to forgive, we know the forgiveness is done once we can imagine greeting the person who wronged us without any feeling of discomfort at all. If we think we’ll be uneasy, we know we’re not done yet – and we can be sure, as well, that we’re not operating from a place of our fullest power.
Since we actually need to feel better, it means that forgiveness is not something we can fake. We can’t choose the high road in our behavior and secretly feel torn up and wounded. We must be sincere, inside and out.
If we can do this, we become wise enough to receive life and make it more and better than it’s ever been before. Forgiveness allows us to create with tremendous passion, explore new heights of prosperity, lead through inspiration instead of authority, and connect deeply with those people we are meant to know. Forgiveness undermines the human judgments and asks us to have soft unwavering hearts and spirits, no matter what happens. And, my favorite part… forgiveness takes away the feeling of being weighed down by the events of our lives, and it’s exactly this lightness of being that gets us far, even more than our willfulness to act and do.
Those who take on the project of forgiveness might take a year or more to finish the work, depending on their level of attachment to the stories about their wounds. Regardless, the process itself is an amazing one. A thousand wonderful surprises pour out along the way as the source of power becomes slowly but surely restored.
Here are a few suggestions to help you practice forgiveness.
1 – Write letters to someone that’s upset you, but don’t send them. Express all there is to say about what they did that caused you pain, and in part two of the letter, share what you learned, including the ways in which they taught you positive life lessons. Thank them for what they’ve taught you, even if it was hard. Write these letters every time you feel resentment, sadness, or anger. Each one will diminish the weight until one day, it’s released.
2 – Watch the movie “The Power of the Heart” to hear a powerful story of forgiveness told by genocide survivor, Immaculee Ilibagiza.
3 – Read “The Book of Forgiving” by Desmond Tutu & Mpho Tutu
4 – Create a daily forgiveness practice, assuming that the decision to live a rich and full life causes a perpetual need for forgiveness and self forgiveness, since we all make mistakes. Decide how you will remember to forgive on a daily basis, and invent a technique that best suits you, whether it involves meditation, journaling, time spent in nature, or otherwise.
Ultimately, while your practice is forgiveness, the impact will be to reclaim your full power. You may never have known that version of yourself before, but with forgiveness, you will.