Free Yourself by Forgiving! Learn the 7 pillars of true forgiveness
Free Yourself by Forgiving!
Learn the 7 pillars of true forgiveness
Written by: Paul E. Wanvig, published in English: 10. March 2019
First published in Medium Magazine (Norway) 02.2015
One of the greatest and most valuable arts a human being can learn on the path towards good health, joy and meaning in life, is the ability to completely forgive himself and others. You can set yourself free through the art of forgiving. Here, you will learn what forgiveness really means, including why and how to forgive yourself and others from the depths of your heart.
The inability to forgive is probably the main cause of many wars, conflicts, divorces, and an overall lack of joy in life. Our lives and the world at large would probably look very different if we had learned the art of forgiveness in elementary school.
In this article, you will learn how and why absolutely everything can be forgiven, as well as the difference between forgiveness and accepting what has happened. Forgiveness is for your own sake—and it can set you free. My advice is for you to become an expert in forgiveness!
Being unable to forgive costs us a lot of energy in our everyday life. We frustrate ourselves and hate people who hurt us, but are these actions really worth giving others the power over our thoughts, feelings, health, and happiness?
One of the most valuable arts a person can learn on the road to good health, joy, and meaning, is the ability to forgive yourself and others in a complete way. Learning to forgive will set us free! “Does this mean I should accept everything that others have done to me?” Of course not! Let’s take a short but intensive dive into the topic to give you a basic understanding of forgiveness. We will explore the tools and inspiration needed to forgive yourself and others from the depths of your heart.
Success with forgiveness
Forgiveness is something everyone must learn, since most people either aren’t born with this ability and didn’t learn it from their parents or while in school.
Forgiveness that has worked can be evidenced by how you interact with the person afterward on a regular basis (more on this later). Trying to forgive others by using pure willpower and discipline is nearly impossible, since there are often strong emotions involved. Gritting your teeth while trying to ignore the problem does not solve it either and often leads to more stress, irritation, and suffering.
Since there are many misconceptions about forgiveness, we need to set the record straight on what forgiveness really is and what it is not. We need to know why it is important to forgive absolutely everything and discuss effective methods for forgiveness.
My experience is that it is easy to get lost while pursuing different methods and techniques without being aware of what forgiveness is and why it is important. We may also lack a correct measuring scale to see if forgiveness has worked or not. We will begin the journey by first illuminating the path and then will come back to the techniques at the end.
A classic case
I am a good example of what happens when one has neither the knowledge nor the tools to be able to forgive.
Before my burnout in 2003 that almost killed me and led me to the Shamanic path, I bore a grudge against a good number of people who had done things to me that I did not like: bosses, coworkers, partners, neighbors, friends, family members, and so on. When someone hurt me, I spent a lot of energy trying to deal with my responding negative thoughts. I had no idea how many months or years of my life I had misused by letting other people have power over how I think and feel. This is what happens when we fail to forgive.
For example, I remember the trauma I had experienced in my first serious relationship. We had been together for almost three years, got engaged, and moved into an apartment that we refurbished. One day, she came home from a trip to Paris and told me that she had found another man and wanted to leave me. This came like a lightning bolt from blue sky. I was left traumatized and bewildered.
I became involved in another relationship some time later, and about three months after my next girlfriend moved out, I received two letters from a law firm. She had sued me for everything I possessed, both personally and with my company. I almost had a cardiac arrest when I read the letters. How could she do this? The attorney expenses alone would have taken all I had. My response and hatred were impeding my life, until I met my mentor and teacher, Master Luebeck, in 2004.
He explained to me that I was not going to be happy with a new partner if I did not learn to forgive my former partners for what they had done to me. "How can you give your heart to another woman when you have built a steel wall around it?" he asked me.
It was then that my introduction to the art of setting myself free through forgiveness began. I must admit that it was hard at first, but it was worth it! Without it, I would not be living such an exceptionally happy life together with my wife Maria today.
Why is forgiveness so important?
Many people carry burdens that consume much of their energy, because we fail to forgive ourselves, other people, or situations we have experienced. In reality, we are the only ones that suffer when we are not able to forgive. You can hate another human being for the actions done, but the hatred will hurt you more.
If you are unable to forgive yourself, it creates an internal sabotage program against your health and happiness in life. If you do not forgive others, you build walls around yourself and your heart, which make you lonely and stressed.
By forgiveness, I do not mean to accept the action of another person—instead, you forgive to set yourself free. The more resentment and hatred you carry, the more resources are lost to no avail.
Using pure willpower is not the way to forgiveness, because strong emotions are involved. Full forgiveness from the depths of our heart is difficult to do with our will and consciousness, since this action has limited access to the subconscious part of us, where most of these experiences are stored.
Forgiveness is first and foremost for yourself
Forgiveness is basically for your own sake and not for others—it's the only way you can make peace for yourself. You give a part of the power over your own life to others by allowing yourself to be hurt because of what others have done to you.
Your negative thoughts and feelings toward those you are carrying a grudge against are influencing and controlling how you think and feel in general, and this also affects your health. The people you are not able to forgive are then influencing your life in a destructive way.
The only one who will suffer because of this is you! By learning to forgive, we take back the power over our lives. We cannot allow those who have hurt us to decide how we think, react, or act toward the other people in our lives and ourselves.
Basis for true personality and spiritual development
Forgiveness heals our hearts while we set ourselves free from the past, so we can live in the present. This also provides a foundation for true spiritual development, which cannot be realized unless we have learned the art of forgiveness, since the heart is the key to our soul and essence.
We let go of a huge burden that prevents us from enjoying sound health, meaning, and joy in life every time we choose to forgive someone. You've probably experienced how a weight is lifted off of your heart after you've forgiven your partner or a friend for something they have done or said to you.
Forgiveness means that love, and not fear, stands in the foreground of your decisions and actions. Through forgiveness, you become reunited with the Creative Force, which is a prerequisite for spiritual enlightenment and spiritual self-realization.
The proof of forgiveness
There are no objective yardsticks that can be used to measure whether forgiveness was successful or not, since our heart, our subconscious, and our soul are very complex. But there is one measuring instrument that is 100 percent certain: your everyday life. When you meet someone you have tried to forgive, you will know whether you have truly forgiven, or whether your forgiveness was merely cosmetic.
When you feel unwell, attacked, stressed, or "small," you still have work to do with forgiveness. Another sign of a lack of forgiveness is when negative feelings and thoughts come up when you think about the person or the situation that led to the hurt. You imagine scenarios in which you meet the person and tell them how much they hurt or offended you. These imaginations are often about you "winning" and walking away from the situation with a sense that you finally got the upper hand, and justice has been served.
Once you've forgiven in a successful way, you can meet the person you have forgiven and exchange a few words with this person without getting stressed or feeling unwell. Of course, you can make a decision not to have more close contact with that person, and when you have forgiven them, you will have made your choice without feeling pressured or pained.
Should I forgive everything?
Many people ask me whether to forgive everything and everyone who has hurt or done something wrong against them. The answer is YES—but it does not mean we should accept and approve of everything others have done to us!
It is important that we distinguish between two different ways of being hurt or injured: objective and subjective.
Objective injury means you have been wounded in a physical and/or psychological manner, such as by physical violence, bullying, robbery, assault, torture, or deception.
An easy way to determine if you have been objectively injured is by checking reality through describing exactly what has happened with your five senses. In this way, you are using clear language that accurately defines what happened in an objective manner—rather than describing what you feel or think happened.
When you have been hurt or injured in an objective manner, you should not accept what was done! You need to determine which measures must be employed for this to not happen again. In such cases, it is a good idea to get help from a professional, such as a psychologist, therapist, or coach.
But if you stop at this point, you are still carrying on the enormous burden of resentment and hatred toward the person or persons who have harmed you. The only one who suffers from this is you. Forgiveness in such cases means setting yourself free. It does not mean to forgive or accept the deed in itself!
It is about taking action, so that this does not happen again. You forgive to free yourself from the burden you are carrying.
I find it interesting to study biographies; it helps me put my life and my problems into perspective. A while ago, a documentary was shown here in Germany about a young girl who had been subjected to the most inhumane torture by Nazi Germany’s most famous torture doctor, Josef Mengele. After being subjected to the most grotesque human trials over several years, she managed to escape.
Life afterward was an absolute nightmare. It was impossible to live a normal life, because she couldn’t let go of the horrible experiences. They affected her thoughts, feelings, and actions toward herself and others. When interviewed in the documentary, she was an older woman with gray hair and a gentle but firm voice:
"My life changed a few years ago when I realized that the people who had done me harm still had power over my life and were the main reason that I still had an unbearable existence, even after decades of freedom.
The turning point came when I realized that the only thing they did not have power over was my forgiveness for them. Forgiveness set me truly free. It meant that I could again feel and think normally, live happily together with my partner, and enjoy the smiles and laughter of my grandchildren..."
A similar story is found from the father of logotherapy, Dr. Viktor Frankl. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” (1946) he describes what he calls the ‘will to meaning’ and how he managed to survive the Holocaust by saying ‘yes’ to life, even under tragically inhumane conditions.
While in captivity, he had this life-changing insight: "No one outside myself has power over my inner attitude. They can beat me, they can execute my family, but my thoughts belong to me!
I have the power to decide how I interpret this situation! If I, under these extreme conditions, could keep my identity and my character, then other people can do the same! The last human freedom is to choose your own attitude towards any situation.”
The only one who suffers from not wanting to forgive is the one who has been hurt. If people in these terrible life situations are able to forgive, there is hope for everyone. But forgiveness is impossible without first using the free will to make the choice to forgive. When we can do this, we have taken the first step toward setting ourselves free!
Watch Eva Mozes Kor tell her profound story.
I recommend watching the entire video (15 min.) You can find more information about Eva Mozes Kor here.
Interview with Dr. Viktor Frankl - Finding meaning in difficult times
To be hurt in a subjective way means that the ego’s values have been hurt. Critical questions have been raised that challenge our ego structures, beliefs, and meaning, and also expose our negative self-image or worldview.
We all naturally try to hide our poor self-image from the outside world. When this is in danger of being revealed, we perceive it as a threat, causing us to feel hurt. Examples include accusations of stupidity, ugliness, laziness, or incompetence. Since the ego is built on fear, it perceives accusations against its value system as an existential threat.
Reactions such as irritation, anxiety, hatred, resentment, envy, and the like occur on this basis. The biggest challenge to starting a forgiveness process when the ego has been wounded is the ego's intense defense mechanism and fear of change. This process may take some time if you're not used to forgiveness or don’t have help through the process.
Misconceptions about forgiveness
Forgiveness does not mean to offer the other cheek—that would be the same as consent, meaning that other people are allowed to do whatever they want with you.
Forgiveness does not mean:
- Acting as if nothing has happened.
- Accepting transgression of boundaries.
- Remaining in the victim role.
- Being silent about your experiences.
- Forcing yourself to believe that the person who hurt you is good and that he or she certainly had good reasons for the actions against you.
- Taking on responsibility for what happened.
- Assuming that "it had to be so."
- Thinking that the responsibility is equally with both parties.
- Believing that "one must learn to deal with this.”
- Trying to forget the incident and ignore your own feelings (pretend nothing happened).
Many will not forgive others, because they think that forgiveness means having consented to what happened. This is a big misconception that prevents the process of setting themselves and their heart free.
What about revenge?
Revenge has never brought anything good to humankind. It may lead to short-term satisfaction but always end up with suffering in the long term.
My wife Maria worked for several years as a social worker with felonious criminals, including murderers. One of her clients had murdered his daughter’s abuser and had to serve 20 years in prison. She asked him if it was worth it, and he answered, "I lost the best time in my life, I only got to see my daughter on visitations a few times, and my marriage was destroyed. I lost everything that was dear to me for my revenge. "
None of her clients had ever been happy with their revenge. I've never met anyone who has been happy after revenge either. Besides being dissatisfied, revenge always creates a great emotional and karmic load.
Forgiveness of yourself
Being able to forgive yourself is an unconditional prerequisite for fully being able to forgive others. Characteristics and behavior that I reject in myself are also difficult for me to accept in other people. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what we should forgive ourselves for. In such cases, it might be a good idea to forgive yourself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is oftentimes difficult to forgive without dealing with feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety, as well as misleading moral belief patterns. When you forgive yourself, you open your heart in a deep way that allows all types of forgiveness processes to happen more easily.
The benefits of forgiving
You don’t forgive because of the one who has been hurting you. You forgive because of yourself and your own well-being that has been damaged by hate. In this way, any act of forgiveness being carried out, is an act of love toward yourself. Only when you forgive do you demonstrate that you intend to be gracious to yourself and others.
Here are some of the benefits of forgiveness:
- Through forgiveness, joy for life returns.
- Through the heart chakra and its ability to love, it is possible to open up our heart to this world, which in turn is a prerequisite for all forms of enjoyment.
- Forgiveness counteracts the phenomenon of an inflating ego and its ideas that the only thing that makes us happy is status, money, power, and the like.
- Forgiveness can be a vital prerequisite for keeping the heart healthy and healing it from disease.
- Circulation, kidneys, lungs, and the colon can profit from forgiveness (this is referred to in traditional Chinese medicine with the elements of fire, wood, and metal).
- Forgiveness is a prerequisite for a happy and long-lasting relationship, since there will always be situations where one hurts the other. When forgiveness is not a habit, a prohibitive mountain is built up that can lead to divorce.
- Whoever forgives themselves opens their subconscious ability to take care of their own well-being, success, and health. Whoever does not forgive themselves will subconsciously attract problems, failures, and disease.
- Forgiveness is a prerequisite for being able to work optimally together in a team (i.e., read about relationships above).
- A well-functioning family can only be held together over a long time with the help of forgiveness.
What happens when I do not forgive?
The consequences of not forgiving are extensive.
There are absolutely no excuses not to forgive, except the ego's desire to keep things as they are. The only one who is hurting you in this is yourself!
Is there a shortcut?
I tried for a while to forgive my ex-girlfriends with my consciousness and pure will, with minimal impact. For example, by utilizing the arm test from applied kinesiology, it is possible to determine if you have forgiven another human being completely.
The problem is that forgiveness by sheer willpower is difficult since strong emotions are involved. Walter taught me a unique method for forgiveness: Kanseya Shai'nar heart meditation, which is part of the Three Rays Meditation system. This is an effective method of complete forgiveness from the depths of our heart. As an engineer, I was skeptical, since the method included the use of the Archangels to heal our hearts.
But to my great surprise, it took only three to four weeks with 10 minutes of daily effort before the burdens dropped entirely. It was as if I was a few pounds lighter. Today, when I think of them and what happened, there are no negative feelings coming up. I’m grateful that they were a part of my life for a period of time and for all I've learned afterward. It taught me, among other things, the value of being able to distinguish cause and action from who the person really is, and the value of forgiveness.
These results gave me the motivation to start a systematic forgiveness process toward all those who had hurt me in the past, including my parents. Walter helped me through Phase 1 of the forgiveness process with counseling (see below).
I conducted Phase 2 myself through meditating 10 minutes a day with Kanseya Shai’nar over a longer period of time. The results were indescribable: I felt freer, more balanced, and happier than ever! My life energy grew for each stone released from my heart. Through forgiveness, I set myself free so that I could live my life the way I wanted it, without others involuntarily controlling how I felt, thought, and acted!
Forgiveness is an important topic in my own practice as a spiritual teacher and counselor, where I offer all my clients and students to learn this unique form of meditation (which can be learned in an evening). I'm so amazed by every feedback of forgiveness that I get from my students and the benefits brought to the people and families involved. The value of true forgiveness is gigantic in the quest to create a happy life!
Free yourself with the 7 pillars of forgiveness
My advice to you is to become an expert in forgiveness. In the beginning, it is normal for the process to be a bit slow. Since you're learning something new, it might be a good idea to get some help from an experienced supervisor at first such as a therapist, psychologist, or counselor.
Phase 1: Consciousness and learning
In the first phase, we are clearly defining what happened and finding out what kind of measures need to be used, so the hurt will not happen again. Additionally, we gather lessons learned from what was experienced.
Pillar 1 - Decide to forgive!
Everything starts with making the decision, with your free will, to forgive. This becomes much easier once you understand what forgiveness is and why it is so important to forgive. Once you've done this a few times, it becomes a habit!
Pillar 2 - Objective description!
Note whether the hurt is an objective or subjective harm by describing what happened in a clear and unambiguous manner. Use your five senses. Avoid dream language and words like “I feel,” “think,” “want,” etc.
Pillar 3 - Trifle or serious?
Find out if the problem is about small things or if there is a serious, profound incident. You can handle minor events of everyday life on your own, while serious incidents require the help of a professional.
Pillar 4 - Objective or subjective harm?
- Objective injury: Can the situation be dissolved without further incident? If not, what measures must be initiated to protect you?
- Subjective injury: Was the intent to hurt you on purpose? Is the other person prepared to relate to you in a harmonious way in the future? What negative beliefs about your own self-image were activated? How can these be healed?
Pillar 5 - Give yourself space!
Once you've been hurt, it is important that you take care of yourself as a wounded person. Give the pain space and feel what has happened. Accept that you have been hurt, because only then will you be able to start the process of forgiveness. By ignoring what has happened, we are robbing ourselves of this opportunity.
Pillar 6 - Gather lessons learned.
Use what has happened to help you progress in your life. The experience and knowledge of many negative events in our lives can be used for something positive, such as the opportunities that were present in my own life after the burnout that had almost killed me. It is a good idea to study the biographies of people who have used their biggest traumas as lessons in their life and turned their pain into something positive.
Phase 2: The process of forgiveness
Pillar 7 – Use an effective method for forgiveness that suits your needs.
There are a whole lot of them on the market, such as NLP, systematic constellations following Bert Hellinger’s work, and Kanseya Shai'nar.
The deeper the wound goes, the more it is required for the method to also go into the depths of our heart and soul. There is a limit to what is possible when only working with the consciousness and subconscious.
I always prefer a combination of talk therapy and targeted energy work. Remember that the only evidence of your success is how you, in your everyday life, interact with people you want to forgive.
Want to know more?
Life can be good to live if we choose it ourselves! If you want to learn more about forgiveness and other topics to create a better life, feel free to reach out to me. You can also soon find more free video trainings and articles on this website.
Every conceivable problem can be solved—and oftentimes the solution is sitting right under our nose. I wish you good luck on your path toward good health, joy, happiness, and an enchanting life!
Please contact me if you have suggestions for topics that you would like me to write about. I'm always open to hearing suggestions and answering questions.
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Paul E. Wanvig is a Neoteric Shaman, entrepreneur, journalist, author, speaker, bio-hacker, spiritual teacher & encouraging optimist dedicated to helping you and your family live a Fulfilled Life and ending the stress and burnout epidemic by Utilizing the Best of Modern and Ancient Scientific Practices, Medicine and Technology.
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