Forgiving Yourself – Own Your Resistance

by Mark Ivar Myhre on March 7, 2011

In the e-book on The Magic Of Forgiveness, at one point I mention the value (the necessity, really) of owning your resistance to forgiveness.  So what does it mean to ‘own’ something, and just how do you do it?

The topic of ownership is very important to me, because for the longest time I refused to own anything.  I had an adolescent fantasy of living a life of owning the absolute least amount of anything that I could.  That included material possessions, obviously, but it also spilled over to the more important ownership – owning yourself and your life.

See, with material possessions, it’s all pretty cut and dry.  Either you own your car, or you don’t.  Or, occasionally, you may dispute the ownership with another person.  But still, we understand what it means to own material objects.  The uncertainty comes in when we look at what it means to own intangible objects.

I readily admit I’m not an expert on this at all.  So if you’d like to add something here, I’d love to hear it.  But here’s what I believe to be true:

Ownership is a living, breathing energy, just like love and success and so many other energies. What does that mean, exactly?  For one thing, it means I can tap into it and feel it.  I – just like you – can access any living, breathing energy.  We have the right – and the ability – to do that.  And we can then use the energy of ownership to reach our goals.

We’re already using the energy of ownership much more than we realize. See, when I refused to own anything, I was in fact owning my denial of ownership.  Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was owning.  But it was a twisted version of ownership.  It’s like choosing to not make choices, or being responsible for not being responsible.

Just like you can’t get away from choices or responsibility, so you can’t really get away from ownership either.

Ownership is an emotional experience. Well, you knew that was coming, didn’t you?  Everything relates to emotions in one way or another.  Or so I keep saying!  Anyway, you’ve heard the phrase ‘the pride of ownership’, right?  Maybe it came from a Buick commercial, I can’t remember for sure…  but still, it’s there.

And pride may very well be in the mix of feelings that come up around ownership.  There’s nothing wrong with being proud, unless you give it to your ego.

Ownership is essential for success. Obviously, material success depends upon owning something or other.  But I would say success also requires you to own things about yourself as well.  Your desires, your choices, your expectations… your thoughts… not to mention at least a certain amount of your power, strength, and talent.

Ownership involves claiming and demanding. In a certain sense, I must stake my claim – I must make my demand – if I want to own anything.  I must assert myself in some way.  This doesn’t have to include arrogance.  But it does include taking a stand and not backing down.

Ownership takes conscious engagement of strength. And it also takes practice.  It doesn’t just happen on its own.  It’s a skill that can be developed over time.  The more you work at it, the better you become.

Ownership is not coveting, taking, possessing, or selfishness. When we covet, or even take something, that’s not the same as ownership.  Obviously.  But I would say even possession, by itself, does not convey ownership.  Because simple possession doesn’t give that emotional experience of ownership.

Also, ownership is not selfish.  (And I’m referring to the definition of selfish as being something that’s detrimental to others in some way.)  Ownership – true ownership – hurts no one.  Or, if it seems that ownership creates hurt, I would suggest there’s probably something else going on.

Anyway, this is how I see ownership.  Now, the question comes up, of how do I own something?  And I’m speaking in the esoteric, non-physical, sense.  Such as the question I received recently –

“How do I own my resistance to forgiveness?”

I guess the simple answer would be, “by acknowledging it’s there, and admitting you are the one doing it.”

Let’s look at my own resistance to forgiveness.  Namely, that I’m letting myself (or another) off the hook.  If I forgive them (or me) then they’re going to get away with what they’ve done, when they should be punished for their actions.

“The wrong must be righted.”

Hey, I’m a fair and just man.  All I’m asking for is a little justice here, and a little fairness.  But if I forgive, where’s the justice in that?  It won’t be fair.

Okay, so that’s my resistance to forgiveness.  How can I really own that, so I can move beyond it and forgive?  Because let’s face it; it’s awfully tempting to try to ‘right the wrong’.  This resistance makes a lot of sense.  “Yeah, why should I let them get away with it?  Then they’ll just do it again.”

If you’re new to this ‘forgiveness stuff’ – then that line of reasoning will have a lot of appeal, and it can most definitely prevent you from forgiving.  No matter how many times you go through the motions of trying to forgive.

In this case, you own your resistance by breaking it apart and looking at each component separately. Why do I believe I am the one who must right this wrong?  And how am I going to make it right?  By committing another wrong?  And do two wrongs really make a right?

And let me look at my belief that I’m letting them (or myself) off the hook by forgiving.  Is forgiveness really a weakness?  Is it really condoning errant behavior?  Is forgiveness really nothing more than a permission slip for future misbehavior?

And what does is say about me, if I forgive?  Does it really mean I’ll be used again and again?  Why do I believe that?  Forgiveness makes you dumber?  Forgiveness makes you a chump?  How do I feel when I look at that statement?

And what does my heart have to say about all this?  What does my heart want me to do?  How long does my heart want me to carry around the pain?  A week?  A month?  A lifetime?  How long must I suffer?

These are the types of questions you would ask yourself, if you want to own your resistance.  See, it’s not a matter of just admitting the resistance exists, and then throwing it in the closet so you don’t have to look at it.

“There.  I owned my resistance.  It’s right there on the shelf.  Now, how come nothing’s changing?”

That’s not going to work, is it?  You can’t really own a resistance when it’s all knotted up.  Instead, you have to throw that resistance up on the dissecting table and tear into it.  And see what you find.  I’ll guarantee you, there’s pain and fear in that resistance.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a resistance.  At the very least, there’s going to be something unpleasant to look at.  I mean, why else would you resist?

But as I’ve said many times, when you feel and release the pain and fear, you will be more powerful.  You’ll understand more.  You’ll be better equipped to deal with life and life’s curve balls.  You’ll be stronger and wiser.  That’s the promise of seeking out and then feeling and releasing your pain and fear.

Ownership makes you more. It makes you more of yourself.  You become more of who you really are when you own.   It can start with owning your resistances.  Or your payoffs and hidden agendas.  Or your little story.  Or some other part of the dark and restricting side each one of us has hidden inside us.

To sum it up; how do I own something?

By knowing it intimately, and admitting it’s me – I’m the one doing this. Telling myself the truth.  And loving and accepting myself all the more.  Because I realize, if I created this, then I can change it.

But if I don’t own it, then it means I’m powerless to change it because it’s not mine.

The ability to change.  That’s the greatest gift of ownership.


Deb Klugger March 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Hi Mark,
I enjoyed your article and totally agree. Resistance whether it is about forgiving or doing something is always a form of control. I teach folks to manage resistance by first recognizing and “owning” it and then noticing when they are in resistance. I tell them not to worry about changing the resistance but to notice when they are in it. It blows folks minds to find that many times just by the act of observing the resistance, they move out of it.
Speaking of moving..when are you moving back here to the sunny south? It’s 70ish and sunny in Ocala today!
Take care,
Deb K

Mark March 8, 2011 at 11:04 am

Hey Deb,
yes, I’ve been keeping up with the weather down there! I’ll be spending this weekend in Boise, and then I’ll be going to Wyoming, and then I’ll have to spend at least a few days in Nashville. So I should make it down to FL in about 2 weeks.

And concerning your comments, I’ve noticed that when we observe, we also participate – sometimes unknowingly – and that participation can make changes all by itself. I agree, a lot of times, just knowing about your resistance seems to be enough to step beyond it.

good to hear from you

Patricia Jankowski March 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I like your article, Mark. But I know damn well I am resistant. Fact is, I’m ANGRY and sometimes this anger is overwhelming. One question….what about the fact that some people have more to forgive than others? I mean, it’s one thing if you loaned someone some money and they never paid you back. But what if someone cruelly manipulated you and scared you out of your wits when you were just a defenseless child? And it affected you for the better part of your life? And you still see emotional violence all around you, with people doing nothing about it? This whole issue is so difficult for me, Mark. Thanks for the article. I just wish I could do what it suggests with a successful outcome. Patricia

Mark March 8, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi Patricia,

anger can be a wonderful emotion. Unfortunately, it often becomes a weapon. Reading between the lines, I’d say in your case someone dumped their weapon of anger onto you – it got injected into you. Or seared into you, more likely. And now, you carry their anger.

The answer is to give back the emotional distress to the offender.

Shame is a complicated mess. I’ve written a few articles about it on this blog, and I’m sure I’ll write more.

It’s very hard to forgive effectively when you’re filled with someone else’s shame. You can’t even forgive yourself effectively. When the shame is overwhelming (in this case, expressed as anger) then your whole life becomes feckless – without affect – to one degree or another.

So not only forgiveness, but almost every self improvement tool, seems so impotent.

Now, as for your questions about emotional violence – well, it certainly does pass down from generation to generation. Until someone steps in to stop it. It starts with returning the shame (the emotional violence) to the offender. You do this, not by dumping it back on them – as appealing as that sounds! No, you do it as a visualization exercise.

You imagine yourself returning to the scene of the crime, and be a champion for that abused child. You gather up and return the shame to the offender. In your case, the shame may express itself as shards of glass. Sharp, cutting, painful energy. You may even have to imagine yourself putting on thick gloves, or using some sort of tongs to gather the shame. Then you imagine yourself carrying this shame back to the offender and DEMANDING they take it back. If they won’t take it back, then you drop it at their feet and TURN AROUND and walk away.

There’s more to it than that, but you get the idea.

I’m living proof that shame can be returned to the offender – internally – without ever talking to the offender outwardly. In fact, you can even return it to the offender after they’ve died. Crazy, I know. But I’ve done it!

Returning the shame in meditation is the ONLY way I’ve ever found that works. And I’ve spent years studying this. I was highly motivated to find some answers.

Now, Patricia, you may be the only one in your circle who even sees the problem, so you may be the one who has to take the lead here. Maybe you were thrust into this situation at birth, to be a leader. Maybe you knew coming into this life what you were getting into. And maybe you chose it – to help lift others out of a despair they can’t even see by themselves. Those who can perceive the problem, such as yourself, often suffer worse than those who don’t see.

Something to think about.

Michael Gerstein March 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Resistance. My experience. In my formative years I suffered severe ’emotional deprivation’. Severe lack of real, genuine, ‘unconditional love’ in my family. LOVE. This missing experience, hole, was filled with intense fears and insecurities. Couldn’t face people or live. Not having this very important, elemental knowledge and experience of unconditional love, made it virtually impossible to move forward, to live. RESISTANCE. In the dark, it’s scary to move around. It’s the unknown. I resist. Managing’, ‘owning’? Don’t know. Just want the good emotions. Knowledge, experience. Then I feel sure I will be able to enjoy moving around, as any healthy person. Even in the dark.

Mark March 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Hi Michael,

if I were you, I’d start by going back to that child who was unloved, and start loving him! It’s easier than than you might think, and powerfully effective.

I recorded a meditation that guides you along to find and meet your inner child – who’s very much alive right now. And, as you’ve discovered, he still has quite an impact in your life right now. You can find out about it by clicking on the display ad at the upper top right hand side of this page. (The one that talks about healing the inner child.)

But here’s the quick version of what you do:

Just lie back, and imagine yourself returning to where you lived as a child. Imagine yourself going inside the house and searching for that child – looking from room to room until you find him. Once you do, spend a little time just to observe him. Get a feel for the situation. Eventually, go to him, introduce yourself, and get to know him.

Let him be real!

That’s the most important thing. Don’t CREATE him – FIND him! The inner child is very real – just as real as you are. He just lives in a different reality.

Get to know him – get to know his personality; what he thinks and feels, what he likes and doesn’t like. What his desires are. Things of this nature. And love him. Just love him.

You can also help him heal, as I cover in the guided meditation, but you get the general idea.

I’d hate to think where I’d be right now, if I never spent the time to help my inner child heal. Now when I go to visit him, I sometimes feel he’s in better shape than I am!

And as for my inner adolescent… (I have a separate guided meditation to meet and work with him – it’s included as a free extra bonus with the inner child meditation) well… he’s still a work in progress… he’s quite a bit more stubborn.

Anyway, the point is, it’s never too late to go back and help them heal. And your life today WILL change.

Anne March 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Mark, This forgiveness stuff is so healing. It isn’t easy but it’s helping so much. I care for my little Annie, and as for my teenage gal, she is very distracted. She wants to run amuck. I am after 50 years, settling down on my own, no more distractions and healing from my life of abuse and anger. With your articles, I am hopeful that one day I can breath easy and forgive the harm done by me and to me. I was raised in a family 7th of 9 kids. Dad a raging alcohalic, and Mom a nurse. For 25 years my Mom never protected the family then one day I prayed he would die, and a week later my Mom shot and killed him. Since 15 years old I have had one sick relationship after another. With men and women friends. This last year I was betrayed and hurt and kicked while I was down. I faught back and it only hurt me more. Now you are helping me let go of the anger, fear and rage. It is all being replaced by HOPE, FORGIVNESS (slowly) and a wonderful journey to take of me. Not selfish, just long over due. Thank you for all your guidance. Anne

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