How to forgive blackmail?
How do I forgive the inhumane people who violently blackmailed my friend’s children for the debt owed by their now imprisoned father, (who had just murdered their mother)? I see the patriarchal culture the bullies come from, and the fact that it is a land where the law isn’t regulated well, so they can just pay off the police. But really, it doesn’t really help me practice forgiveness. I am just angry.
Wow. What a horrible cycle of suffering perpetuating itself. If I were in your shoes, I would want to get off that ride. The only way to do that is to resolutely hold the intention to do so. I can certainly empathize with the anger, and I can feel how painful it has to be. Ouch. As horrific as these actions and circumstances are, these are still people trying to be happy, no matter how deeply unskillfully. I wouldn’t focus on the perpetrators. though, I’d focus on myself and relieving the burden of anger. I’d offer myself a lot of space and self-compassion first.
Here’s a practice I’ve used – I take my hand and place it at the base of my throat stroking gently down my sternum to my diaphragm repetitively. This stimulates the Vagus nerve and releases the calming, supportive hormone oxytocin. While doing so, I say the words “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life. May I hold this situation with ease and patience.” I do this any time the anger boils over. After continued repetition, the charge starts to diminish, and then I can see beyond the murkiness of the anger. There is space for forgiveness to arise.
Once there is space and less charge, I can work on releasing the toxins of resentment. The perpetrators may have supposedly gone free, but what damage might have they done to themselves? Who knows. They are clearly deeply wounded to do such deeds whether it is by the culture or their family system. Ultimately they are worthy of compassion. Not pity, which only reinforces judgement and resentment, but genuine compassion. I’d hold an image of them in my heart and offer the phrases repetitively “As I wish to be happy, you too wish to be happy. As I get confused, you too get confused. As I make mistakes, you too make mistakes. May the pain of resentment leave. May I be free and may you be free.” It is a process. It takes repetition and resolve. It may get worse before it gets better. But it is a way to transform poison into gold. I wish you the very best and hope that the children who were blackmailed are being supported and nurtured.
The only practice I have for situations like this (and like the other recent postings by anonymous, I’m assuming it is the same poster) is-
to abandon trying to forgive, or trying to understand, and just trying to come back to compassion for my own pain.
Self compassion, yes yes yes! Thanks for the reminder to take care of myself! I utilize practices like ujjayi breath, deep belly breaths in a lying down position with one hand on my belly and the other on my heart, tonglen — as well as others practices to physically support feeling compassion in my being. It brings calm, groundedness and ease for sure.
My personal self-compassion practices involve a lot of self validation (“of course you feel this way, anyone else in this situation would”), self-kindness (“i’m so sorry you’re hurting”), and trying to just tap into the felt body sensations of “suffering” underneath it all … I know there are times when it feels like, for me, I must must MUST find a solution (either in the situation or regarding my emotions) and in those times I try to just sit with… how overwhelming it feels and how much that sucks… and just being with that … forgiveness comes when it’s ready , but, never as soon as i want 😉
Thank you bangflashbam. All very good practices! “Of course you feel this way, anyone else in this situation would” – is such a simple and direct form of self-compassion that one would think is totally obvious, but most of the time it is not for me. Thanks for this very important reminder!