Through the attribute of forgiveness, you allow any grudge, hatred, or judgment toward someone who hurt you to dissolve as you become more aware of the pain they carry. While the ego will act as your protector by ridiculing their shortcomings and condemning hurtful behavior, with time as the wisest healer, you’ll find your own journey coming to a place of resolution as you sense the unbearable pain they once hid in you. Even if you’re the one who harmed another, as you become more acutely aware of your own unprocessed pain, you will grow to be more merciful toward yourself as you face the darker parts most people deny. Contrary to the ego’s belief, forgiveness is not about justifying intolerable behavior, turning blame onto the victim, becoming someone’s punching bag, rationalizing the pain you’ve endured, or even using spiritual concepts like “soul contracts” to stay in toxic partnership. It’s more the case of realizing your pain is equal to the torment lurking in people who acted out of character in horrific, self-serving, or damaging ways.

Before forgiveness dawns authentically, the ego can use your history of pain to develop an identity of righteous entitlement. It so commonly believes, Because I was the one who endured unfair treatment, I have the right to treat those who hurt me any way I wish until I’ve decided they’ve had enough. While the ego fantasizes about the day each attacker is rendered helpless, has surrendered, and begs for mercy, the moment you see the infinite skeletons stuck inside the closet of another person’s heart, you will discover a level of forgiveness that is beyond the realm of choice and rational comprehension. This experience can’t be rushed, rehearsed, or anticipated, which is why time is the wisest healer—always helping to prepare you for this life-changing revelation.

As you read these words, it’s common for the ego to think, Even if I saw how much pain they carry, I would still never forgive them. This is actually true, since the ego tries to obtain control by being in charge of forgiving. But the ego itself is not the one who forgives. Rather, it’s the immaculate grace of the Universe forgiving someone on your behalf as a new level of consciousness expands within you. In waking up to sense the oneness within and throughout all people, any wounds of discord that linger between hearts will be spontaneously released. With the attribute of forgiveness being the compassionate force through which the truth of oneness emerges in all of us, your willingness to notice the severity of pain in those who hurt you helps inspire this act of grace. This is true even when the pain is so deeply buried in one of your assailants, they seem to be a person who has it together and somehow got away with hurting others.

Since you’re always being prepared for such a spontaneous moment of forgiveness, when it occurs, it is always a milestone of expansion that happens through you, rather than by you.

Do you know why many people can’t offer forgiveness? It’s because they themselves are not in charge of when and how it unfolds. Until such an immaculate shift in perspective occurs, it is essential to equally hold space for the healing of your own suffering, while slowly but surely opening to the fact that all the pain you find in yourself is the same imprinting of pain that others who hurt you carry in their bodies. May this insight also bring to an end the victim shaming that occurs when someone who still has pain to process is made to feel inadequate for being unable to forgive. Even with these two interconnected points in focus, the ego is quick to say, So what?! They have pain. Who cares? What about me? Thankfully, this belief can’t create a barrier to healing since the goal is not coaxing forgiveness from the ego in any way. Instead you will hear such repetitive, self-indulgent thoughts that they inspire a sudden wake-up call that escorts you out of the character you’ve played in your family, relationships, and work environments. As your awareness expands beyond the framework of your ego’s identity, you will have no sense of who deserves healing more than anyone else. Instead the embodied grace of space holding will reveal to you a depth of healing that has no bias or agenda other than shining the light of oneness for the mutual liberation of all.

Through the attribute of forgiveness, it is not a matter of trying to be forgiving as a way of fast-tracking healing relief. Rather, you become so objectively aware of pain that it opens up the remembrance that everyone deserves to be liberated from the plight of human suffering. While the ego may dream of vengeance and retribution toward those it felt it was wronged, neglected, or abused by, it becomes impossible to maintain such an adversarial attitude when you are able to acknowledge the prison of despair most people live in and react from. Even when those who hurt you have been swiftly brought to justice and kept from hurting others by serving a life sentence, no matter how deeply the ego insists, you can’t deny the unexplainable resolve that washes over you when true forgiveness arrives.

An excerpt from Matt Kahn’s latest book, All for Love: The Transformative Power of Holding Space. Posted with permission from Matt Kahn.

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