What's the Difference Between Acceptance, Forgiveness and Allowing? (and why is it so hard?)
Sometimes a word makes all the difference. Choosing the right word can mean the difference between a thought which feels like, "Um, OK," to "Holy Cow! That's IT!!" When it comes to breakthroughs in understanding and releasing things that have happened to us in the past, it is essential to have a word that carries a strong resonance with what we're feeling.
I believe that's why the concept of forgiveness and acceptance are difficult. Or, can be so, at times.
What one person senses around the word "acceptance" might not be the same for someone else.
So, I thought I'd just share my two bits with you about how I go about sorting this out in my mind.
One of the critical phases in any healing process is forgiveness. Every instance we want to change, shift or heal there will be something or somebody who needs to be forgiven before we can rectify it and move on. That somebody might even be ourselves. And yet something so seemingly easy might be much harder than we thought. It's one thing to say we forgive. Feeling it can be quite another animal altogether.
Rather than get in too deep about forgiveness itself, in this article I would like to explore the events leading up to forgiving someone, rather than the actual doing of it.
In my books, to forgive something we first need to be able to accept it. And let me iterate that "accept" doesn't mean "approve." According to several dictionaries "Accept" means receiving. We receive something. So in this sense, we could accept that whatever happened, happened. In a bland, distant way we can observe that "X" happened, we had it given into our life experience. And in this case, we didn't like it very much. We can't go back and change it, we have to acknowledge that it happened and go forward now.
How we go forward impacts the quality of our future, and it's here we get to use our creative prowess. How are we going to react to this past event? Are we angry? Are we hurt? Resentful? Likely we are feeling a combination of different emotions from this event. We'll probably mull in those feelings for a while before we can step into something more constructive, but for now, we need to leave this step and move onto my next point.
Aside from accepting what happened, how do we accept the person who hurt us? Before we can forgive, we must do both.
This whole idea can trigger a range of resistances. In a nutshell, we probably think the person is, well, a human who needs to improve. And here's where the process gets murky, and we can lose our way. How can we possibly accept this person? If we validify the person who did something painful to us, we are more or less saying that it's OK for people to behave like that, and it's also saying that it doesn't matter that "it" was done to us. It diminishes our suffering, slights our right to react to wrongdoing, and means, therefore, that us and our feelings obviously must account for nothing.
Or does it? What, exactly, does acceptance mean?
And why do we even have to accept them, anyway?
Because accepting is part of letting go. When it comes to people who have hurt us, recognizing them as they are, drops the onus of responsibility for their behaviour squarely back where it belongs. With them. When we can't accept someone as they are, we are trying to make them into something they aren't. In our minds, we are continually forcing different (and maybe better) values and experience onto beings that haven't developed to that stage yet. And who is suffering for that? Who is putting out a lot of energy, deeply grieved, pushing hard that the person should be different? We are! We are, in effect, taking their responsibility.
For us to move beyond an event which has stricken us, we first have to acknowledge the perpetrator for who they are. It is their right, as a human soul, to determine how they will gain experience and learning in this lifetime. That does NOT mean they can do whatsoever they please and get away with it. I am saying it is up to them to choose how and what they do. Acceptance, then, can mean allowing that they are individual, with responsibility for their spirit and soul.
From this point, we can move on into the avenues and ways of forgiveness, which I will cover in another article.
For now, can you sense accepting as meaning we allow that person to be somebody who is responsible for themselves? Whether they acknowledge that responsibility or not is a moot point. That responsibility is theirs, like it or not, and it will stay with them regardless. It is up to them to notice where their actions and all the values and beliefs and fears leading up to that, are playing in their life. We can't use our energetic resources to try and make their conscience or their awareness more significant than it is. They have to do this on their own. What is important is that YOU know it's their responsibility.
Accepting somebody doesn't mean what they did or didn't do is necessarily OK, or that their attitude or even beliefs are OK. We can speculate that they might learn or change, but we can't force that to happen. They must be willing in their hearts before that can happen. I want to make it abundantly clear that it is not our soul's responsibility to change them. We might try, in various ways, to encourage, teach, restrict or punish to change behaviour but again, it's up to them. Completely. There is a place for standing up against certain kinds of actions, and this must be done at times. But we will never be accountable for someone else's soul.
There are so many degrees of hurt which require forgiveness in a lifetime. Sometimes we can walk away. Sometimes we need to press charges. And everything in between. But we can allow them to have ownership of themselves. They might decline and blame, but it doesn't matter. If we can know and understand that each being owns and is answerable for their own soul, we can each own our personal experiences and learning and leave everyone else to seek out and develop their own.
Having a Reiki session with Grace is invaluable for identifying and clearing, accepting, forgiving and healing past events, large and small.