radical forgiveness

(A text version of this video is available here).

Forgiveness is radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

The following video introduces the concept, and then discusses the rationale, the joys, and the challenges of radical forgiveness’ practice:

Aside

This video also demonstrates my significant progress to date toward developing a feminine voice and feminine body language. Much work remains on these fronts, but I’m proud of what this video portrays!

Closing Remarks

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

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radical forgiveness (text version)

(A video version of this post may be found here).

Forgiveness proves radical in and of itself, and I encourage each of you to promote the revolution that it demands. Moreover, I encourage each of you to take forgiveness to radical levels, in other words, to practice a doctrine of “radical forgiveness”.

We all get hurt. Doesn’t matter if an offense is personal, such as someone berating you for a mistake, or institutional, such as experiencing a subtle, unconscious bias from a coworker that hinders you in the workforce due to your gender or sex.

Radical forgiveness combines several key actions: You must understand why forgiveness proves valuable, make the choice to forgive a person or institution, understand the process and pitfalls of forgiveness, continually repeat your choice to forgive that person or institution as necessary, and if possible communicate your forgiveness to the person or institution that harmed you. Moreover, you must treat forgiveness as a skill that requires practice and commitment to excel at. Finally, you must remember that humility must stand at the core of all these actions to succeed.

One might casually call one or two of these items alone “forgiveness”, but by employing the term “radical forgiveness” I assert a more comprehensive and effective mode of dealing with offenses than the mere casualty of the word “forgiveness” implies. We speak here of something more substantial than a flippant “I forgive you” or “I can’t stay mad at you”. Rather, we refer to a context of forgiving significant pain, like divorce pain or business-partner-screws-you pain.



So why forgive in the first place? Primarily, the process heals you, and enhances the chances of healing the other party and a relationship. Forgiving helps you “let go”, to use a colloquial phrase. You surrender, sort of. Basically you acknowledge the pain, and declare that it will no longer impact your relationship with the other party. You declare that it will no longer weigh you down. The act of forgiving claims power over emotional angst. Not complete power, but it provides significant relief. Note that by forgiving you still recognize guilt, and you still must take steps to remedy the problem. Forgiving merely leaps far beyond forcing the other party to remain mired in that guilt.

Moreover, your particular deity might demand that you practice forgiveness. We won’t name names.

One must make an actual “choice” to forgive, as forgiveness starts with a choice. And one must often continually repeat that choice for a given hurt, since anger and pain well up so easily. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, clinicians talk about “turning the mind”. That is, injecting your presence into a runaway thought to turn your think toward more productive thoughts. Similarly, when a hurt wells up inside you that you have already delivered forgiveness for, “turn the mind” away back toward a spirit of forgiveness. Again and again and again. I guarantee you that this process heals.

And that’s just it, remember that radical forgiveness serves as a process, not just a destination. You wrestle with it along the way. You start out unhappy and end with greater peace, but don’t expect an easy ride. For instance, you might have to objectively face your role in a situation, to determine how actions you took that may have put fuel on the fire. Unpleasant, I know. For encouragement, just remember that this process enriches your spirit.

One can liken the process of committing and recommitting to forgiveness to the experience of the mythical Sisyphus as described by the post-war philosopher Camus. The gods condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of pushing a large boulder up a hill by day, only to watch it crash back down the hill every night. Sounds meaningless, right? But Camus declared that Sisyphus found existential meaning in the task itself. Similarly, I claim that you will find meaning in the radical forgiveness process despite its often two steps forward, one step back nature.

The sweetest spot in the process of forgiveness is letting the other party know about your decision, because it generates the most opportunity for reconciliation. But understand that sometimes one cannot do this due to safety or other considerations—use your brain here before you act! And know that the other party may simply not be able to receive your words, may not even find themselves in a place to comprehend them. This hurts, but don’t let it derail your journey to peace over a matter.

Basically, don’t think of this action as “offering” forgiveness. Think of it as “transmitting” forgiveness. Offers feel incomplete if not received, but a transmission projects whether anyone proves receptive or not. In other words, you will have done all you can, so don’t sweat over it.

Humility drives the process. Forgiveness serves as recognition that you yourself exhibit flaws, that you could easily make the same mistakes. It recognizes that you will perform actions in the future that will require forgiveness from others. To forgive effectively you must empathize with and love the imperfect humanity in the one you choose to forgive, which can only emit from empathizing with and loving the imperfect humanity in yourself.

The last point I want to make is that radical forgiveness is a skill, like tennis or playing a musical instrument. It takes practice and sometimes years to develop competency. But if you make a habit out of choosing to forgive, and nurture the habit as you go, I assure you the skill will blossom inside you! I recommend initiating the forgiveness process the instant someone hurts you, rather than wait until you are “ready” to forgive. This strengthens the habit and prepares you for rapid closure once you achieve that readiness. And this practice increases the chance of salvaging relationships due to its proactive nature.

I sincerely hope you find the concept and practice of radical forgiveness useful in your own life! Please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you

on love

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

reconstructing my life from scratch (part #1: radical kindness, and dresses)

As expressed previously on this blog (see “the trick to changing your gender…”), I habitually reconstruct my life. This skill proved essential to my public transition and continually issues economic dividends.

I now stand at an inflection point where I need to reinvent myself again from scratch. You see, the last five years delivered unprecedented upheaval in my life, so much that I have yet to fully adjust to and recover from it all. To provide context, in the last five years I:

  • Divorced
  • Publicly became Emily
  • Fell in love, and lost big, thrice
  • Lost a job I enjoyed and held for a decade
  • Experienced multiple psychiatric episodes (mostly suicidal ideation)
  • Visited India and Kashmir
  • Released two deeply introspective rock albums
  • Discovered that I enjoy having men penetrate me

Only about half of these experiences prompted suffering, but all of them taken together severely disrupted my holistic comfort and security. Consequently my worldview must adapt if I’m to continue delivering my best to the world. I need to rebuild.

I completely need to rebuild. To examine every feature of my life.

For clarity, I hold tremendous assets to step forward with, e.g.,

  • Faith
  • A roof over my head
  • Supportive family and friends
  • Great access to mental and physical healthcare
  • An education complemented by significant work experience
  • Enormous creativity
  • An open mind
  • Modest cash flow

So I’m advancing with resources in place.

My First Two Steps

I’ve decided to start by building a life that radically promotes kindness, and to wear dresses everyday.

Radical Kindness

I hold kindness up as my highest value. So I begin my reconstruction with a firm commitment to delivering kindness at all opportunity. I love greatly, and a clear dictate from the New Testament states that “Love is patient, love is kind.” [1]. Therefore we start with kindness.

I’ll write more about kindness in the future.

Dresses

“Emily”—the person, the spirit, the identity—sustained a major beating in the last five years. She resisted despair by asserting her femininity at every turn. Clothing provides a physical declaration of gender, and nothing more so than feminine dresses. So I plan to wear dresses every day from now on unless there is a good reason not to (e.g., fixing my car or SCUBA diving).

I cannot fully explain why this matters so much to me. But I have noticed (again I cannot explain it) that my life simply “works” better when I wear a dress than when I wear a skirt and a top. It could be confidence brimming up and therefore providing fruit, or could be the universe confirming my decision—most likely it is both.

Manufacturing Intent

I describe making an “intent board” or “vision board” in my post “make an intent board“. Basically on an intent board you paste images to a poster or Pinterest that represent your goals, values, and positive traits. Then you review it regularly for conscious and subconscious guidance.

My intent board includes four whole sections on dresses to celebrate and encourage the joy I experience while wearing them:

References

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:4. (New International Version)

priestess

Revolution is an ongoing commitment, not a one-time thing.

I’m a part of the patriarchy I so much want to destroy.

The legitimization of transgender is going to rip society apart. Bring it on! More accurately, it will rip out the remainder of the modern world. But these are post-modern times.

A few days after I became a woman my aunt said I’m a priestess.

See Also

draft lyrics: “Gutter Priestess”