"Potholes and Sunrises": Notes from the Forgiveness Salon on May 9, 2016

Get Centered

  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Arrive here in the room.
  • Writing exercise: start a forgiveness list. 
    • Include:
      • Major life events (traumatic events from childhood or school)
      • Career
      • Relationships
      • Friendships
      • Yourself
      • Extras - authority figures/concepts (banking system)/institutions (government)


Opening Quote:


"True forgiveness is when you can say 'Thank you for that experience.'" ~ Oprah Winfrey



Share your response/thoughts on the opening quote.


  • Everything is a part of the life experience and being grateful is part of that
  • Mixed feelings/on the fence
  • Hard to wrap head around
  • Open to understanding how it might work
  • Opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference
  • Agree with quote but hard to see it at the time - later it proves to be true
  • Sets your soul free to find gratitude in the experience
  • Forgiveness - do it for yourself
  • Powerful
  • It's all part of the experience of life
  • Forgiveness is when I can say thank you AND accept anger/how I feel about something
    • Accept the situation.  Be grateful AND upset
  • Can be a test
  • Maybe applies in a one on one way but not on the group to group level (ex: holocaust, war)
  • Thinking of it as "Thanks for the lesson/teaching."
  • Opportunity to learn



What is forgiveness?

  • Being at peace with whatever occurred
    • No longer trying to fix/correct it
    • No longer ruminating on it
  • Inner residue is gone too(you're not still treating someone differently because of it.)

What is the process of forgiveness?

  • Not denying your feelings - have to accept/acknowledge/experience your feelings
  • Ignore it until it goes away
  • Can you pick up where you left off?
  • Being hard on yourself for not seeing something sooner
  • Steps of forgiveness
    • you can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it - you have to grow in some way
    • Establishing a new boundary or release a boundary in some way

How much of a role does the other person/group need to play? 

Do they need to acknowledge the situation?

What if the other person has a completely different interpretation?

  • You don't know that other person's life circumstances/upbringing - their values may be different
  • Feeling the need to make sense of it
  • Struggle with when the understanding/conversation with other person cannot happen
  • Answer for yourself how YOU are reacting/repeating same behavior toward other person
  • Forgive - not because they deserve it but beacause we deserve peace.

Do you need to tell someone you forgive them?   Do they want/need that?

Who is forgiveness for?

  • It's for YOU!
  • Exercise suggestion - writing a letter from your past self to your present self.
  • You can't go back and change it
  • Sports analogy: If you make a mistake during a game you have to forget about it because the game is still going and you need to stay present.
  • Limitations: current mindset, it's not possible to know everything


Live | Reflect | Grow

Let it go | Let it go | Let it go


  • Self doubt - getting in the way
  • Worry about stuff that's already happened. 

What do you do when the person is not available for answers?

  • Time & distance help with forgiveness
  • Hard part is not staying angry
  • Get to a place to see it through a different lens

If your life happened over, would you change anything?

  • If you say yes - does that mean you haven't forgiven?
  • No matter your answer, you don't know what that alternative outcome would have been
  • If yes - is that a wish that you were different?
  • Difference between wishing to change something and being able to actually change it


Fear or Love?

A Course in Miracles states that in any given moment - you are either choosing fear or your are choosing love.  Is forgiveness fear or love?  Why?

  • Letting go can be scary - but embracing/choosing love is still action without the fear attached.  Reframing the same situation with new perspective
  • Remind yourself
    • Your thoughts are not actually there
    • A thought is a thought
    • Distinctions between thought and truth
  • Write down the story you are making up (Tool from Brene Brown)
    • Is it true
    • Is it logical

Book recommendation: Love is letting go of fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky  


Final Thoughts

Share something you didn't get a chance to say, a takeaway, an "a-ha!"

  • Like the idea of either love or fear - it simplifies things
  • Validation of current goal of trying to be more present
  • You don't always get the conversation you need
  • Tension of love/fear and vulnerability of the forgiveness process
  • Still have more work to do in forgiving self and others - this is such a human struggle
  • When swirling thoughts overtake you - return back to center and remember: a thought is just a thought, let it pass
  • Very comforting to be talking with people about something we all go through but no one talks about
  • No matter how something is hurting - time will help you
  • Finding and accepting forgiveness - not letting something continue to be part of your life even when you don't get the conversation you "need"
  • Aha! You couldn't change your past experience
  • Gratitude for a community of people on a path


Closing Exercise - Ho’oponopono

  • Go through forgiveness list.  "I forgive you.  I'm sorry.  Thank you.  I love you."  
  • Ho'oponopono YouTube Video
  • Releases you from carry the memory.  The other people involved might not even remember it but you're holding onto it in your body and your energy - and it's blocking you from being your best self. 
  • Denise Duffield Thomas of Lucky Bitch says that forgiveness work "clears stuff.  It lets you really experience the abundance and happiness that the Universe wants to give you.  Without forgiveness, you're just going to sabotage it.  You're not going to believe you're worth it."


Closing Quote

"Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes a person with character to forgive.  When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden.  Forgiveness doesn't mean what happened was OK, and it doesn't mean that person should still be welcome in your life.  It just means you have made peace with the pain and are ready to let it go.  ~Doe Zantamata