Everything I teach and share I have tried myself, and what I found to be powerful and life-changing, I share with as many people as would listen. For many years the nutrition message ran very deep – I ran plenty of detox groups, programs and retreats, all designed with the idea of allowing the body to cleanse and heal not only during the program itself but also in the months and years thereafter. Detoxing has worked wonders for me personally as well as for many of my clients, teaching us how to heal ourselves and how to feed ourselves with the best possible fuel. In recent years my life has taken a major turn in a rather unexpected direction as I pressed the restart button in every area of my life. Marriage, home, career, relationships, even website and logo haha – all the ‘biggies’ were re-examined and changed. During this prolonged process I discovered that an emotional detox was equally as important as a physical one, possibly even more so. It took courage and a deep breath; it took an open heart and a lot of honesty. And it took support – from within and from others. But facing the emotional rubbish and bidding farewell to it allowed me to live closer to my own truth and stop blaming others or circumstances for the unfolding of my life. Here is what I learned.
Forgiveness is a seriously effective emotional detox
Simply put, a physical detox is a process in which a person makes mainly nutritional changes to clear their body of toxins. Typically, this would mean removing certain unhelpful or even harmful foods from the diet and replacing them with beneficial ones. This allows the body to rejuvenate and heal itself instead of having to constantly deal with the onslaught of junk and unhealthy food. An emotional detox works on the exact same principles as a physical one – get rid of a lot of emotional baggage you carry and plant good vibes instead. Get resentment, frustration, anger, disappointment and pain out of your system because, if they stick around for too long, they will corrose your emotional system and exhaust you. Do you get all the negative emotions out of the way in one Forgiveness go? Of course not. But then doing just one physical detox, however deep, will never be enough to get rid of all the physical toxins that have accumulated in your body. Practising forgiveness regularly is like detoxing physically on a regular basis – it clears the air and allows you to feel better and better and better again every time anew. Eventually you get to a stage where a full-on detox is not necessary anymore; your daily practice keeps you in top emotional (or physical) shape.
Forgiveness is liberating
It suddenly dawned on me that when I was hoarding negative feelings towards people or events, the person I was mostly hurting was me. It sounds simple, but if it’s so simple, why don’t we all get it?! The third law of physics states – “what you send out, comes back”. The more negative vibes you send out, the more will come back your way. Simple physics. The person you’re hating or resenting or feel wrongly done by may not even know or care that this is how you feel towards them; it is you who carry the cross. And oh Lord can the cross be heavy! And bitter! Forgiveness gets you out of that black hole of being a victim. It doesn’t mean you condone the other; it doesn’t mean saying that what had happened was right; it doesn’t mean accepting the offender as they are. It does mean no longer giving space in your mind to the painful event or hurting person. You are the only master in your own mind, so you are the only one who can actually do it.
Forgiveness helps you realise that all human beings, you included, suffer
Oh gosh, this was a surprising discovery for me and not necessarily an easy one either. After all, it’s so much easier to vent anger and frustration and pain onto another and blame them for everything that has ever gone wrong. “I am right, you are wrong” sort of thing. And then I started doing forgiveness work. For myself. And as my heart opened and allowed the defences down, I could actually feel the pain of the other. I could actually feel where they came from. I didn’t have to agree with their behaviour or acts, but I could forgive those behaviours more easily when I realised that the other person was not necessarily happy because of what they did. In fact, they were likely suffering as much, they were just better at hiding it.
Forgiveness allows you to close a chapter – and open a new one
There’s a big difference between thinking of something and actually working on it in practice, as I found out when I started doing my own forgiveness work. Writing, reflecting, doing mirror work and sharing brought out the painful topic into the open, gave it a place and let the tears roll down, wet and warm. And then I put the letter away or tore out the paper I wrote on or burnt whatever lay heavy on my heart – and that one symbolic act allowed me to declare ‘chapter closed, we ain’t going back there anymore’. Done and over with. I found that actual forgiveness work allowed me to close a painful chapter and by doing so, to free up space on my emotional disk for more beautiful chapters. The acts of forgiveness may be symbolic but to our heart and mind they are deeply meaningful.
Forgiveness can start with forgiving yourself – and oh how liberating THAT is!
We mostly think of forgiveness as an act we do towards others, but most of us, myself included, can be extremely critical of ourselves, forever finding faults with what we do (or don’t do), forever picking out the 20% that worked less well instead of focusing on the 80% that worked perfectly well. We can all do forgiveness work to ourselves – starting with forgiving what we see as shortcomings and faults and as ‘not being good enough’. By doing this kind of self-reflection and self-work we can at least start to be kinder to ourselves, more understanding, more compassionate. We can replace the tendency to be hard on ourselves with a tendency to give ourselves a reassuring hug from deep within. We always thrive better where we feel we are safe and comforted, and this safe and comforting place starts right inside ourselves.