Is Forgiveness Necessary Before You Start Inner Work?


I had a talk about hypnotherapy recently and one of the listeners asked me:  Isn’t it necessary to forgive others first, before we start any work on ourselves?  (in hypnosis the “work” may be anything)

I did not have a chance to answer the question at that time. The answer is not straightforward.

In hypnotherapy training this is not emphasized. There is work done around forgiveness, and forgiveness is often a result of doing the work- it comes up,  but we don’t start from it (at least not where I received my 300 hours training)

You could be hurt so deeply that any suggestion of forgiving is outrageous to you. And maybe you still need time….

There is time for grieving, resentment (acknowledging feelings). Pain needs time to fade away. Nobody can tell you how long it should take. But many of us extend the time indefinitely, crossing the point when healing (forgetting, forgiving) naturally wants to happen. There can be plenty of damage done this way.

And where do we go from here? Think about it. It’s a dark and lonely dead end.

Forgiveness is needed if we want better health, relationships, if we want to feel free.

The opposite – holding on to hurt, thoughts of a revenge – are a sure road to heart problems, to be in the prison of thoughts about the very person that doesn’t deserve your time. (You may be recalling that Mandela’s quote, floating on your facebook timeline…)

The easier route. Self forgiveness.

When you start doing inner work (like hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, therapy, coaching or subconscious intervention) what leads you there is self care. Self compassion. (Maybe you are not someone who uses the words, but this is it)

“Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had. Now you are growing and changing, and you will live life differently.” Louise Hay

The work + self care = self forgiveness. It’s inevitable. It may take a week or a year, but if you want the results, inner peace, happiness – it’s going to happen. (example: you can start from forgiving yourself for being involved in the situation /  people / who have hurt you)

Forgiving others – when you practice self care, self compassion – is going to happen.

There is no way to have a wholehearted ride while holding on to a cup filled to the rim with piping hot grudges. (throwing in some Brene Brown in here)  The cup is stealing all the fun you could have. But if you decided it’s way too important to let it go, you need to put a lot of effort into managing it.

Do you need to forgive others before you start any work on yourself? No. It may be even asking too much of you, you may not be ready, until you have forgiven yourself, and until you have built within a reservoir of self compassion, and healthier self esteem.

A note on forgiving yourself. 

You could do something really terrible… but many people assume responsibility, and feel guilty for things they had no control over at all. You could have started collecting things you felt guilty for as early as your life’s started. You could be aware of them or not. They could come out in regression therapy or other intense inner work. (And there are always tears…)

A note on the timeline.

Forgiveness will require repetition. It is not a one stop thing. You are building new pathways in your brain. Just like learning new language, you’re learning a new way of thinking. (your emotions arise from your thoughts). In the beginning it hurts, with time it’s a breeze.