Can you recall feeling sick in your stomach, your jaws and fists firmly clenched, breathing very shallow, while the story of how someone wronged you plays over and over in your mind? “How dare he do this to me?!” “How could she be so cruel (or insensitive, selfish, heartless, or fill in the blank __.)?!?” In these moments, we are trapped in a cycle of blame. We see someone in our life as being utterly disconnected from us, as the cause of our pain, as being “BAD.” This toxic blame can last for days, years, decades, lifetime and even longer. The pain of past hurts can be passed down as
blame, prejudice and stereotypes through the generations.

How can we come back to the present moment? How can we reclaim the power we each possess to care for ourselves and get more of our needs met? Forgiveness is a process that allows us to let go of the past and embrace the opportunity to enrich life in each new moment. When we choose this path, we take steps towards expanding our awareness thru connecting more deeply with ourselves and understanding the needs that motivate our own and other’s actions.

Somewhere I was taught that “forgive and forget” went together and meant that we should “get over” what hurt us and allow people to do what they want. To me, forgiveness seemed weak and disempowering. Thru NVC, I came to understand that we “remember” in the process of forgiveness. However it is a more accurate and expanded way of remembering. We remember the hurt with compassion and allow ourselves to feel the pain around not having important needs of ours met. We expand our world by
imagining what beautiful need the other person was trying to meet. As I have done this part of the process, I have come up with the realization again and again that “they weren’t trying to hurt me, they were doing their best to meet their needs.” Through this realization I feel connected thru our shared humanness.

For me, the process of forgiveness is an ongoing one. Every day, I am aware of blameful thoughts or enemy images that run thru my mind. This isn’t surprising since as a child I was surrounded by people moralistically judging and blaming one another. My habit of blame is simply a learned behavior. I strive to make it an opportunity to transform “Jackal” thinking into empathy for self and others.