In a previous article “Don’t Ask Me to Forgive You”, I have talked about what forgiveness is and isn’t. There are also stages of forgiveness in which we weren’t taught growing up. According to Eileen Barker, there are three levels of forgiveness. Learning about these levels of forgiveness can bring awareness to your own suffering. You might even find one of them to surprise you.
Level one: Forgiving Others
The hardest level is to forgive another person. This challenges us to go against our usual defense mechanisms. There is forgiveness for impersonal acts. These acts are not attributed to one individual yet it can have a profound impact on our lives. Such examples include, mankind destroying the environment or forgiving God for causing some much suffering on planet Earth. Impersonal acts can make us feel powerless as much of it is out of our control.
Level two: Self-Forgiveness
For closure to occur, there has to be forgiveness of the other person and ourselves. Even in situations where we perceive ourselves as victims, we have to come to terms that we contributed to our own sufferings. Author Ken Cloke states, “ Our conflicts therefore seem to take us to a place externally, yet everything we understand about the meaning of what happened, and all of our responses to the actions of others are initiated and coordinated internally by our brain.” Meaning that when an event occurs, it’s stored in our memories and it becomes altered as it continuously played in our minds giving more attachment to the memory each and every time. Once it does this, the “memory” becomes less prominent to rely on as we intertwine other feelings and emotions into the picture.