Fake it ‘til you make it.
We’ve all heard it. Now I don’t mean orgasms. Never. Fake. Orgasms. It doesn’t help anyone.
But I’ve been working on a “fake it ’til you make it” practice of forgiveness. Right now, it’s more of a vague inclination because I don’t really have a problem with own my grudge-holding. Perhaps that sounds terrible, but it’s true. I don’t dwell on it, and most of the time it’s not on my mind. My trust, once broken, is gone. I have this philosophy of not forgiving unless an apology is offered and/or amends are made.
But, I’m starting to see how holding on, even just occasionally, to anger is unhealthy. It likely makes my anger about other issues stronger, which is why I’ve begun to work on leaning into forgiveness the way I’ve leaned into my struggle, my resistance, feeling what I feel, and letting go.
I’ve leaned in to all these things—even though they hurt, even though I didn’t want to—and it was difficult. I began to lean in because it became necessary for my own personal development. And, I’m stronger for it. But I don’t forgive, except in the aforementioned circumstances. It’s not exactly a winning personality trait, but I never saw it as a truly detrimental behavior until recently. Now I feel like I need to shed some of the dead weight of grudges so that I can be free.
This is where “fake it ‘til you make it” becomes part of the process of forgiveness.
Maybe I don’t feel like forgiving, but because it’s what is best for me, I need to find a way to soften my heart toward the idea. I recently was given an idea for letting go. When we want to let go or forgive but aren’t yet feeling it, we can think about that person and think, “May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.” When we focus our thoughts in this positive direction, we can begin the process of healing.
Initially, we may not mean it. We may say it because we need to and not because we want to. But if we fake it now, we’ll gradually start to mean it. It’s like yoga. I’ve had so many instructors who advised me to keep trying to actually visualize the pose until I was capable of achieving it. At first, I was skeptical, but I found that if I focused my intentions, eventually my body was able to do the thing I thought it couldn’t do. Again and again and again.
Perhaps the first necessary step of forgiveness is visualizing that we are capable of forgiving, wishing them well even when we don’t yet mean it, and learning to soften our hearts toward the idea of letting go.
I’ve started to practice this. When I think of a situation where someone hurt me or where there are bitter feelings, I think of them and say (aloud or in my head): “May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.”
When we want to look up an old flame or old friend, we can instead say these words until we mean them. When we want to complain for the 100th time about what someone did to us, we can focus on these words instead. This becomes forgiveness and moving on. And, it’s important, maybe even necessary, if we want to be our best, happiest selves.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we allow the people who once hurt us to continue to hold us back. We harden our hearts and develop trust issues rather than accepting the reality and moving on.
It’s never easy to let go of grudges or hurt or resentment, but practice helps. In focusing our intentions, we can slowly ease ourselves into forgiveness.
Not for them—but to help free our own hearts and remove the burden of bitterness.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina