With the understanding that we alone are responsible for our choices and
Thus, in order to experience a complete severing from the rope of unforgiveness, it is vital that we release those external sources of injury and injustice. Let me give you a couple examples. (The names I am referencing are fictitious).
decisions that have led us into our relapse episode or period of regression into unhealthy behaving, thinking or feeling, it is also important to recognize that there may be destructive outside influences or on-going painful relationships that trigger us, contributing to our weakened state.
Severing the rope of unforgiveness
Many years ago, I was working with a wonderfully vibrant and talented woman in her late forties. Katie came into therapy after her husband of over 25 years left her for another woman. As Katie and her husband were going through their divorce, she started drinking more heavily. As we worked through her betrayal, Katie slowly began to heal and recover. However, whenever she came into contact with her ex-spouse, or if she chose to contact him, she would be re-triggered and re-injured. Over time, Katie realized that holding onto her feelings of anger, resentment, and worthlessness was not hurting anyone else but her. It wasn't until she practiced external forgiveness - to let go of the bitterness and rage towards her ex-spouse and to release him and his betrayal of her - that Katie was able to embrace healing more fully, not only in relapse but in her ongoing recovery as well.
|Letting go of external triggers|
Whether it is our feelings of inner shame triggered by our own choices; or our feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, or injury triggered by outside forces, I believe the practice of forgiveness - both internal and external - is non-negotiable in the initial steps of recovery and in sustaining recovery from relapse. As I write in Mountain Air,
"I stepped out from underneath the canopy and was greeted by Father Sun. Feeling insignificant under His ever-reaching rays of warmth, I was grateful for this powerful lesson. Our humanity is sometimes our most formidable opponent when it comes to fully embracing our healing journeys. Letting go of our pain... [practicing internal and external forgiveness]...is our greatest strength. It is necessary in order to move forward."
|Letting go of our pain|
- Choose a word or phrase that feels safe and comfortable - one that you can connect with.
- Implement a practice(s) that feels natural, meaningful, and purposeful to you.
- Schedule or set aside times for your internal and external forgiveness.
- Repeat this process as many times as necessary.
- Take time to relish in the renewal that you experience.