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The Simple Guide to Lasting Forgiveness

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We’ve all been there. Someone says something harsh, or forgets something important to you, or doesn’t act the way you expect them to. Sometimes, we might even perceive that they’re actually out to get us, hurt us or manipulate us. In the worst cases, we’ve hung on to unforgiveness for years, believing that if we forgave someone we’d give them license to hurt us again. (I have four fingers pointing back at me, here.)

So we decide to be angry, frustrated, sarcastic, hurtful, or generally un-loving towards them. We hang on to unforgiveness whether it’s for a week with a spouse or years with an old friend.

This is the worst thing we can do.

When you let someone make you angry for something they did, you are affecting YOUR love level. You are saying, “I’m going to let some external thing affect how much love I feel. I’m going to let this injustice I perceive affect my mood, my emotions, my stress level, my love level, and my health.”

What is Unforgiveness, Really?

Unforgiveness is Ego Juice. The ego loves telling stories of wrongs, thrives on injustice, and is actually strengthened when you are hurt!

In contrast, forgiveness starves your ego and feeds your spirit.

“The primary underpinning of the persistence of negativity is the ego’s secret payoff from negativity (“juice”). This secret payoff is the ego’s only source of energy, so it sees forgiveness, as well as compassion, as the “enemy.”
-David Hawkins and Scott Jeffrey, Dissolving the Ego, Realizing the Self

“Forgiveness, acceptance, reason, and love are seen as antithetical to the ego’s secret inner purposes.” -David Hawkins, Transcending The Levels Of Consciousness

Unforgiveness, at its core, is telling a story about a person or event. We could talk about how this happens and the intricacies of your ego, but the bottom line is this:

Until you stop telling and believing that story, you’ll never fully forgive. 

Types Stories We Tell

1. The story you told yourself about how things should be.

“He didn’t do X” is your story that he should have done X.

“I can’t believe she forgot____” is your story that she should have remembered.

“When he said ____, it hurt me” is your story that anything someone says can affect you negatively.

2. Denying the reality that we are all one. (The ego hates this idea.) You are believing there’s a “me” and a “them”, and that by not loving them, you’re hurting them, giving them “a taste of their own medicine,” but you also believe that you’re not hurting yourself in the process. You may even feel a little superior, thinking how great it is that you’re not like that.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” -Buddha

3. The story of how you love, and that you expect everyone to be like you. So often I hear the words, either verbatim or in essence: “If he loved me, he would ____.”  You have absolutely no power in the world over whether or not someone loves you, and if they do, it’s not your place to say how they should love you. Your power is in loving them.

4. Attaching stories to the people we’ve been around for a long time.

“He knows me, he shouldn’t have said that.”

“She knows how much that hurts me when she forgets.”

“I can’t believe, after all we’ve been through…”

The Gift of Now

Can you see how not present these stories are? You’re attaching a whole story to this person, instead of being present with them right now. Your ego loves to hang on to the past, loves to create elaborate stories of injustice, wrongs, and annoyances. If you leave your ego in the past and focus on loving this person now, there’s no place for these stories.

Instead of being angry, frustrated, sarcastic, hurtful, or un-loving, we can instead take the position: “Nothing you said or did, or can say or do will make me stop loving you right now.”

Then you get to feel the joy of giving love.

Then you get to go about your day in a joyful mood.

Then you get to send and receive love unconditionally.

Then you get to be more present.

And you are telling the universe that no matter what is sent your way, you choose to be love.

What Is Love?

As a society, we have strange ideas of what love means. We believe that by withholding love, we are giving love in a “tough love” sort of way. We believe that by being harsh, or correcting, or pointing out error, we’re giving love. Let’s redefine real love

“[What’s] missing is the realization that Love is a primary quality of Divinity and is also nonlinear, and that spiritual love is not an attachment. The error of the pathway of negation is to misidentify and refuse Love because, in its general, ordinary human experience, it is a limitation and an attachment (between a ‘me’ and a ‘you’ or an ‘it’).

In contrast, Divine Love is predominant, powerful, overwhelming, and the primary quality or essence of the Presence. It is profound and unconditional, with no subject or object. It is not an emotionality but a condition or a state that is liberating rather than limiting.”

-David Hawkins, Transcending The Levels Of Consciousness

Real love, Divine Love, doesn’t say, “look at me loving you.” Divine Love doesn’t say, “I will love you as long as you’re good to me.” Divine Love doesn’t say, “There are things you can do to make me stop loving you.”

“Giving love is the law that applies to everything in your life. And giving love is the law of relationships. The force of love doesn’t care whether you know someone or not, whether a person is a friend or foe, a loved one or a complete stranger. The force of love doesn’t care if you’re encountering a work colleague, boss, parent, child, student, or a person serving you in a store. With every single person you come into contact, you are either giving love or you’re not. And what you give is what you will receive.” -Rhonda Byrne, The Power

Divine Love says, “I am love. I love regardless of where I am, who I am with, or what situation I am in.”

Divine Love says, “Love is my essence. Withholding love hurts only me.”

Divine Love says, “I tell stories of love, focus on love, and send and receive only love.”

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

-Mother Teresa


Four Simple Steps to Lasting Forgiveness:

1.Remember we are all one. When you withhold love from someone else, you withhold it from yourself.

2. Ignore negative stories (especially your own) Being anything less than loving towards someone means you’re attaching a story to them. You’re dragging the past into the present, and creating the future all by telling a story that is not true.

3. Love unconditionally. You have no power, control or say over how someone loves you, or if they choose to love you at all. All you can do is love them. Any time spent trying to “train” someone to love you, expecting them to love you in a certain way, or being angry about the way they’re interacting with you is a complete waste. Love them and move on.

4. Return to the present moment- again and again. There is nothing but love in the present moment. If you’re not feeling love, you’re not present. The present moment doesn’t say, “But last week she…!” The present moment doesn’t say, “He knows I hate it when…” The present moment just loves what is here, right now.


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13 comments… add one
  • Jo

    Such a powerful and insightful post, Belle. I just love the way you describe unforgiveness as ‘witholding love’ not just for the other person/situation but ourselves too. Just by replaying what we consider to be injustices in our minds or even as shared stories is enough to shut us off from experiencing love in the present. Wow! Thank you!

  • I really appreciate your words that “unforgivenss is ego juice…” How powerful an image you created with that phrase. And it is so true.

    Forgiving my self is something I struggle with daily. Step 2 in the four simple steps really resonates with me. I have negative stories that are no longer true…just admitting that they are no longer true helps me get a grip on forgiving my self. Thank you for this post, which I most likely will read and read again.

    • Belle

      Deborah, I am just astounded by your comment. I hadn’t even looked at this post from the self-forgiveness angle, and my whole mind is blown! Thank you! It is so important to forgive ourselves most of all, and the principles above so easily and perfectly apply to our self-forgiveness. Thank you for teaching me something so profound!

  • Elsie Mae

    When you speak your mind and everyone faults you for speaking the truth, what then? How do you live with their anger and disappointment in you?

    • Belle

      Elsie, thank you so much for such a raw and honest question.

      This has a few different answers, so I’m going to break it up a little.
      “When you speak your mind and everyone faults you for speaking the truth…” Firstly, I want to acknowledge this fear- it’s a very real fear that we feel often, if we let ourselves feel it. The truth is, you’re imagining something that hasn’t happening yet, and you’re projecting a fear into the future. The truth is, no one is faulting you right now. If and when someone should fault you, you’ll have the love and presence to deal with it then- and you’ll be able to see what’s going on with them that’s causing fear in them to react negatively to you. But bottom line- you can’t handle a situation until you’re in it, and you’re capable of handling anything in the world, because all you have is this moment.

      “How do you live with their anger and disappointment in you?”
      Very easily- I stop telling myself that they’re angry or disappointed in me. We all want to be loved. One of the quickest ways to freak ourselves out is to tell ourselves that people won’t love or like us if we do something. This is not present. Do they love me now? Why should I think anything differently if I do something else? If they did something radical would I hate them? Probably not! I’d probably ask them what they’re learning, or what they’re going through, or try to understand them a little. But bottom line, you’re not experiencing that now, so it doesn’t benefit you to project it into the future. Be grateful and happy for the people around you now. Be grateful and happy for the things you know today. Be grateful for the choices you’re making right now. You only truly have this moment- everything else is either a memory of the past or a projection of the future.

  • OMG Belle!!! You are on fire!! Thank you.

  • Kat

    I agree with the essence of what you are saying. The examples you use are so minor, though. I brought a man into our home who proceeded to brutalize and horribly abuse my daughter, and the rest of us, to a lesser degree. How do I forgive that? Why would I love that person, who is now gone from our lives? I know forgiveness frees me to live in the present. I know intellectually that love is all there is, that love is why we are here, but I have trouble even wanting to love such a sick and diseased soul that would abuse children for his own selfish ends. How or why would one forgive or love such a person?

    • Belle

      Kat, thank you so much for bringing this up, and thank you for sharing your incredible story of hurt and pain.

      I tread delicately and with much compassion on this subject. Please know that your path is your own, and you can take my suggestions if they make you feel better- but if you feel they would cause you undue pain or stress, toss them out immediately. I can only share what has worked for me, with great reverence and respect for the paths that so many others have walked and are walking that are far superior to my own.

      That said, here is my perspective, from a deep and profound understanding of forgiveness as I’ve come to know it.

      It’s important to remember that forgiveness is not about him at all. He is obviously going through life with no thought or care as to who he hurts or who loves him or hates him. Know this: he is in no way affected by your love or hate of him.

      As I mentioned above, choosing to be angry, hold a grudge, be unforgiving of someone only hurts you. It affects your mood, your attitude, your love levels. I have forgiven two people in particular who hurt very deeply. In both cases, I did not contact them after forgiving them. We’ve moved on in life, and I am grateful that I am able to move on without carrying those stories from the past. However, it is not necessary for me to have active relationships with those people- and I don’t think it would benefit them or me. If I see them, I won’t harbor resentment and hate- because that hurts me- but I can treat them like a friendly stranger. If they were to try for more, it wouldn’t make sense to me, because I don’t typically have close relationships with strangers.

      I don’t resist or hate them, but to simply choose to be around other people. When we actively hate and harbor unforgiveness, we’re actually bringing the energy of that person and that situation into the present. Instead, I’m going to choose, EACH MOMENT, what I do love, and who I do want to be around. If that isn’t this person, that’s okay. I feel no hate or ill-will, simply more loving towards something else.

      It’s also important for me to stop telling the stories of how these people hurt me. I can tell you that I had experienced abuse that some have called horrible and appalling. I used to hang on to those stories and tell people about them. Now I see how hanging on to those stories is basically self-abuse- every time I tell the story of how someone hurt me, I’m hurting myself with that story now. They may have hurt me once, but I’m hurting myself again and again. Byron Katie’s work is great for a deeper understanding of this.

      The fact is, the man is not in your life abusing you and your daughter right now. Thank God. And the people in my past are not hurting me now. Thank God. I can only act in this moment, I can only be happy in this moment. Why would I choose to be unhappy just because something happened in the past? If that’s the case, we all, every one of us, have a very good reason for not being happy.

      • Kat

        Thank you for responding to me, Belle. I agree with you, and do work on not telling the stories of hurt and abuse, and do TRY to live in the moment with joy and love. I did think that it was important to bring up this fact of having things happen that seem to be unforgivable

        I have tried over and over again to release myself of this man and his disease, but seeing my daughter live daily with the pain and PTSD and seemingly be forever scarred is truly difficult. I pray for her to be healed, and see the Great Goddess wrapping her in a blanket of love, yet her pain is still evident. I know that this is her journey and that she will heal in her own time. But still it hurts. And I blame myself too for bringing this monster into our home. Perhaps the one I most need to work on forgiving is myself.

        So I am working on it. Thank you, again, for responding. I do sit with the pain and the guilt, and walk through them, for I know it is the only way to get through to the other side where joy and love await.

        Blessed be.

  • Rose Rilling

    I love the quote from the Power, either you are giving love or you are not. Very simple and to the point. I believe we are aware when we aren’t giving love; inside, it just doesn’t feel right. So the important thing is to remember, we are all connected and giving love just feels right!!
    Thank you once again for your wise words.

    • Belle

      Thank you Rose! So true- we do feel it inside. Giving love to others really is just giving it to ourselves- we’re all connected. Withholding that love doesn’t feel good- because we like to feel love, too. Beautiful cycle.
      Love you dearly,

  • Caroline

    I once had a facilitator in a workshop say “the happiest people are those with short memories”. They don’t hold on to the hurt or anger. I try to have a short memory and not project my feelings into someone elses behaviour.

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