Forgiveness Releases Pain

by Mark Ivar Myhre on February 28, 2011

Here’s a comment I just received on forgiveness:

“I wish I could take a magic pill and – poof! – forgiveness would take place.”

“I struggle with owning my past and resist forgiveness because it brings up pain. It was horrible when I went through it the first time, reliving it seems counterproductive – why do I want to go through it all over again?”

Yes, there usually is pain in our past.  And yes, you will need to relive it if you wish to forgive.  And yes, reliving it will bring up the pain.  So there you have it.  Forgiveness is painful.

Well, not exactly.  Forgiveness heals the pain and the past.  Forgiveness is the way to release that pain.

But why is that even necessary?  Why can’t I just forget it?  Why can’t I forget the past and try to ignore the pain?

And I would say, why in the world would you want to?

There’s a part of your consciousness lost in the pain of the past.

“Yeah, well, so what?  They can fend for themselves.  I don’t need that part of me, and I don’t want that part of me.  It’s too painful.”

And I would answer, you can’t afford that luxury.  You can’t really abandon yourself anyway.  Those lost parts will find you.  They won’t give up on you.  They’ll keep speaking louder – demanding to be heard.  Just like you would do, if you were the lost part.

Besides, it’s not the pain that’s the problem.  It’s the stories we tell ourselves about the pain.  It’s the meaning we give to our pain.  And it’s the fear of the pain.  That’s the problem.

When we don’t handle our pain, it grows.

You will be dealing with your pain, one way or another.  Nobody gets out of here alive.

Look, pain is meant to be felt and released.  You learn from it, you retrieve from it, and you let it go.  But when we start telling ourselves stories about our pain, that’s when the problems begin.  It’s the stories we tell ourselves that keep the pain in place.  Even if you want to deal with your pain, you won’t be able to release it because of the meaning you’ve assigned to your pain.

One obvious story that many people use revolves around blame.  “Someone else caused my pain.  Someone else is responsible for the pain I feel.  It’s their fault.”

And on a mundane (worldly) level, you’re right.  We’ve all been wronged by another.  Every single one of us. Some worse than others…  but no matter the severity, we’ve all got our story of how someone else did us wrong.  And logically, factually, the stories may be accurate.

“This happened… that happened…  I was just sitting there minding my own business, when…”

And that could all be true.  On one level.  In a sense, we’ve all been victims at one time or another.  But here’s the problem with being a victim:

Victimhood is a pain factory.

Victimhood is when you believe someone or something outside yourself – even if it’s random chance – is creating your reality.  It’s when you don’t own what happened to you.  And if you don’t own it, you can’t do anything about it.  Because “this is not mine.  I didn’t create this.”  And so the pain grows.

Now, here’s the catch-22.  We don’t want to own the event, because there’s too much pain and anger and bitterness and resentment and all that other stuff in the way.  And that stuff is in the way, because we don’t own it.

We can’t end the pain because we won’t own it.  We won’t own it because it’s too painful.

So am I saying everyone goes around creating pain for themselves, and there’s no way out?  “Blame the victim?  Sounds pretty cold and uncaring, Mark.”

No, what I’m saying is blame locks the pain in place.   Blaming the offender.  Blaming the circumstances.  Blaming yourself.  Blaming me because it sounds like I’m blaming the victim…!

I can remember when I used to say to myself,  “I don’t want to go through the horrible past again” – well, blame kept my past horrible.  It wasn’t the only thing, but it was one of the main things.  And a lot of the time, it was my self-blame.  “It’s all my fault.  I did this to myself.”

It might not start with self-blame, but it usually ends there.  Again, blame is not the way out.  Blame is not ownership.  Blame is a form of judgment that’s designed to block thinking and feeling.  And it’s the thinking and feeling that will ‘get you out of this mess’.

See, it’s not the events of the past – no matter how horrible they were.  That’s not the issue.  The issue is the impact those events caused.  The impact is what’s real.  And the impact has to be felt to be released.

Forgiveness is not like watching reruns on TV.  Where you keep repeating what was.  No. Forgiveness offers a way to proactively end the boring and painful repetition.  The trapped energy of the past will continue to manifest in your life in new ways.  New clothes.  Same old Frankenstein’s monster, but dressed up in a new outfit.

When a part of your consciousness stayed behind – trapped in the energy called ‘past’ – you can never really run away from it forever.  It’s attached to you.  It’s a part of you.  It’s like trying to avoid your left arm.

That part of your consciousness won’t let you forget it.  What if you were the part that got left behind?

You don’t need forgiveness to bring up the pain.  The pain will find you.  One way or another.  Sooner or later.  No, the forgiveness lets you be done with the pain.  If it seems like forgiveness keeps the pain around, that means something is blocking the forgiveness from happening.

Forgiveness is like removing the splinter. If you try working with forgiveness, and it doesn’t seem that way; if it seems like forgiveness keeps the pain around, then keep in mind what’s really going on.  It’s the blame – the stories – the erroneous weight – the righteousness – the negative accountability – the shame – the pity – that keeps the forgiveness from working.  Or some other similar energy.

It hurts a little bit when you remove a splinter.  But if you’re fighting the removal process the whole way, then it’s going to hurt a lot more.  And the splinter is liable to stay in place.  Does this make sense?

If you have an opinion about this, or if you’ve been working with forgiveness, I’d love to hear your comments.  Just type them in below.


Christine Berger March 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

OMG Mark ! ! ! I just got back to my desk after convincing 2 people to go onto Emotional Times and get started and there you were on my e-mail. Funny thing is that I have had 2 huge breakthroughs in my emotionla quest this week and they just happen to be about what your e-mail was covering. Imagine the pleasant surprise !

Thank you forever,


Mark Ivar Myhre March 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Hey Christine,

good to hear from you again. And it’s great to hear about your breakthroughs!

I’ve noticed that there’s some type of energy that comes up when we have our breakthroughs. It’s an energy like nothing else. My heart really feeds off that energy. (Which might explain my obsession with emotional healing!)

Heather March 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I read Forgiveness is like selective remembering: Choosing to remember the good parts. But really I think that when your able to remember the good parts, or see the good of the situation, you know you’ve forgiven that part of your past.

Years ago, I got married right out of high school because I was pregnant. I was filled with guilt, shame and self-loathing. I carried the secret belief that it was a punishment from God because I had stopped going to church. It hung over my head and followed me around. As soon as I forgot about it, something would remind me of it and I would be reeling again.
After years of remorse, I was able to forgive myself, change my belief and heal my hurt.
Now I can look back and say, “Yes, that was a very sad time in my life but I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t gone through it. I wouldn’t have this amazing kid, I wouldn’t have had those wonderful moments, etc…”

I’ve used that to check my progress on other things I’ve been trying to forgive. Can i remember the good and overlook the bad, or does it still hurt?

Shellie Monroe March 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

This was a great article! I especially love the statements, “The trapped energy of the past will continue to manifest in your life in new ways. New clothes. Same old Frankenstein’s monster, but dressed up in a new outfit.” Now, how true is that? Wow!

This article caused me to refer to your book, “The Magic of Forgiveness – How to Forgive Yourself.” I was reminded that I am resisting forgiveness because of arrogance. I am afraid that forgiving this person will mean that he gets off the hook and in my mind he needs to pay for his crimes.

Although I realize that trying to hold someone else prisoner is essentially holding myself prisoner, there is still this nagging thought that he is skipping down the lane as if what he did is okay and his actions don’t warrant punishment. (I mean, who will punish him if I don’t? I know that’s not logical, but that is my underlying thought)

I know, I know…I’m trying to play the role of authoritarian/Higher Power/judge and jury when my time could and should be better spent. It’s like there’s this vicious cycle that I can’t seem to get out of. In my head I know better, it’s the doing that trips me up (e.g., stop playing the victim, stop replaying the stories in my head, etc.).

Perhaps my fear of how I’ll change, the demands and expectations, and fear of intimacy/caring are keeping me paralyzed and on this repetitious cycle.

Thanks so much for sharing. I like how you related forgiveness to “selective remembering” and “choosing to remember the good parts.”

Mark March 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

It’s not always easy to forgive someone, as I know from personal experience. Two people come to mind, where it literally took me years to forgive them. Both situations involved getting ripped off for a bunch of money. (Coincidence?)

One of those persons, I ended up forgiving three times, over the course of about two years. Each time, I was able to forgive a little deeper. And let go a little more.

So how did I do it?

I had to finally ‘get it’ as to how much it was holding me back by not forgiving.

Plus, I believe that no one ever really gets away with anything. Everyone has to face up to what they’ve done, sooner or later.

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