It’s that time of year… for Radical Forgiveness

by Nikki Mark

After the Thanksgiving feasts are over, and the dust settles, we often find ourselves in a bit of a post-turkey fog. After all, family dynamics can get complicated and relationships over the holidays are often tested. For many people, it all kind of feels like a swirl of calories and emotions.

So I am sharing an article I wrote on the practice of “Radical Forgiveness” because now is the perfect time to try it . . .

Colin Tipping wrote a book on this, aptly entitled Radical Forgiveness. The principles apply to virtually any human dilemma and can help shift the way we experience them.  The book is also a down-to-earth toolkit for when life gets messy, relationships get complicated, and forgiveness feels like a tough pill to swallow. 

“We must choose whether to heal and grow, or to be right,” the book’s author asserts. 

In other words, we can spend our lives blaming family members for our problems.  We can live as victims of our circumstances and complain about them to the bitter end.  We can even choose to clog our bodies with a lifetime of resentment, anger, drugs, alcohol and/or sadness and feel unfairly abused when we fall apart.

Or… we can reshape the stories we tell ourselves about our wounds. Trust that they have something deeper to teach us. And start healing from the inside out. 

“The people who seem to upset us the most are those who, at the soul level, love and support us the most,” Radical Forgiveness says. 

This is hard for the human mind to grasp, but in every situation, Tipping says, each person is getting exactly what his or her soul wants. “Everyone is engaged in a healing dance.” 

After my son passed away, I started to believe for the first time in my life that I had a soul separate from my body.  I have never been a religious person. Nor was I a very spiritual one. But when tragedy struck, something mystical happened, and I can tell you that on some subconscious level that I may never understand, my soul was up to something.

One thing I wish I had known earlier in life that I now know is this:  What we fear the most is what we attract into our lives.   

If we fear betrayal, we will be betrayed.  If we fear abandonment, we will be abandoned.  And if we feel unworthy, our boss, our partner, our best friend… or whomever it is that enters our life to play the role, will excel at making us feel especially unworthy.    

We do the same for them, by the way.  Why? Out of love, Colin Tipping would say.  

Sounds like an absurd thing for us to do to ourselves and each other, but we do it, and our deepest selves, AKA: our souls, are the masterminds behind it.

If we think our lives would be more whole if we had another set of parents, we are wrong, says Tipping.  “Any set of parents would have given us the same experience because that’s what our soul wanted.”   

We don’t have to understand this. We just must be open to the possibility that while our human minds and personalities are engaged in one experience, our souls are having another.

Like Alcoholic Anonymous, one of the largest healing clubs on earth, Radical Forgiveness doesn’t care about your background, religion or race.  You only need to trust in something greater than yourself for it to work.

I have seen Radical Forgiveness mend strained relationships between parents and their children.  I have watched it alter the way partners process betrayal. And I have personally used it to help me address layers of my grief that I simply could not carry any longer. 

Here’s one specific example.

I have a friend who wanted to get over her resentment towards her ex-husband but just couldn’t. She loved her children as deeply as any mother could and rationalized that the marriage had been worth it just to have them in her life.  After over a decade post-divorce, however, anger and bitterness still filled her heart whenever she heard his name – and she knew this was not healthy.  She was so ready to release all the negative energy, but something in her subconscious wouldn’t let go.  So, one day, we pulled out Radical Forgiveness and spent three hours (at least!) going through its worksheet and searching for the “soul reason” as to why she picked him in the first place. 

With a bottle of wine and box of tissues by our side, I probed and tested every angle I could find until we cracked open her ego and had a breakthrough.

It was because of this man and their nasty divorce, she ultimately realized, that she had learned to defend herself and use her voice as she never had before.  It was because of the pain she endured that she turned to a women’s group for support, found some of her closest friends in life, and truly perfected the art of sisterhood in this lifetime.  Lastly, she had to admit, it was because of him that she had searched her soul and discovered new values, belief systems and a spiritual perspective on life that has brought her greater meaning ever since. 

From a human perspective, her ex was mean, deceitful, and abusive.  From a soul perspective, however, he had helped her transform more than anyone she had ever met into someone she truly liked.  That’s how much his soul loved her.

And what did his soul learn from her? He would have to do similar work inside himself to figure that out.  Until he does, the cycle of learning for him will likely repeat with someone else.

I wasn’t long after my friend “radically forgave” her ex and embraced more of herself that her subconscious was done learning through pain and soon attracted Mr. Right. 

Bottom line, “Radical Forgiveness” demands that we shift the way we look at our toughest relationships and search for the magic in them. Once we do, the ego dissolves, energy instantly shifts, and life-lessons are learned. 

The beauty of the practice, as Colin says in his book, is that:

 “Whoever is upsetting you right now is the person who represents all the people who have ever upset you for the same reason in the past.”   

So, if you notice that certain types of relationships in your life usually end the same; if you feel lost and blame others for losing your way…or if you find yourself constantly attracting the same types of people into your life that you wish would go away…commit some time and give Radical Forgiveness a try. 

Not only is the investment a lot less than a lifetime of suffering, but when we change the way we view our relationships, we also change the way our relationships view us. 

And then, heart by heart, we begin to heal ourselves and each other, from the inside-out.

P.S. I’m no therapist but I am getting stronger at this practice. If you have any specific relationships triggers that you face every holiday season, let me know in the comments below and let’s see if we can use Radical Forgiveness to start shifting them. There’s nothing to lose and we can share a few laughs trying. 

6 thoughts on “It’s that time of year… for Radical Forgiveness”

  1. Thanks Nikki for this. Forgiveness is so hard when it comes to the big stuff. Like emotional trauma, or someone that has hurt your children, etc. But today I pulled a ‘card’ that was about assumptions, and I feel like it helps with radical forgiveness: “Be Aware of Unconscious Assumptions,” is on the front of the card. The back says, “Assumptions are made so fast and unconsciously most of the time because we have agreements to communicate this way. We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions: we have agreed that if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel.” Um. Wow.

    • Just a thought…perhaps turn the conversation inward and start forgiving yourself. For what? Only you know…but once you do, the energy will shift and it will automatically help your children forgive too.

  2. I love this! In the past, I have radically forgiven an abusive man in my life-it took 13 years but I did truly get there! I also forgave myself for tolerating it for so long.
    The thing I am working on now is alcoholism. I have been surrounded by it my entire life. I wasn’t at the Thanksgiving gathering this year due to covid, but my daughter was and she was subjected to a drunk adult criticizing the way she looks. So drunk, he couldn’t keep her and her cousin straight. She said nothing to him when he said it. It woke up my entire life of dealing with drunks. Man I hate how drunk people act!!
    I don’t feel like we should be obligated to subject ourselves to that just because it’s family. Abuse is abuse, drunk or sober. I wonder if once Ifeel safe in regards to alcoholism I can work on forgiveness? As it stands now, I DO need to be On Guard with most people I am around during holidays and celebrations. I feel terrible that I wasn’t there to stand up for my daughter.
    May we all find our cozy in whatever ways we can❤️❤️❤️

    • I tried to look at this from an addiction/abusive standpoint and what’s important to remember when it comes to radical forgiveness is that everything is happening at a subconscious level. “We can become aware of our subconscious beliefs if we look at what shows up in our lives. There are no villains or victims, just players. Everyone is engaged in a healing dance.” It doesn’t have to make logical sense. RF takes child abuse an example. “Be willing to drop the judgment, and the need to be right. While it may always be difficult to recognize that both the abuser and abused somehow created their situation to learn a lesson at the soul level and that their mission was to transform the situation on behalf of all abused people, we can nevertheless be willing to entertain this thought.” We don’t have to know why things are happening like they are or why you have alcoholics in your life, we just have to trust things are happening for the highest good of all. When you feel your emotions about the situation with your family, recognize them, trust them and then release them. You are not a victim. Your family is healing something in you, and once you are willing to accept the possibilities of this, they will no longer trigger you, the energy will shift and healing within you will start to take place. As your energy shifts and judgment and victimhood disintegrates you will begin to notice your family members shifting too.

      Whether you believe all that or not, try acting as-if. Meaning, act as-if this is all happening for your highest good and see what that brings up in you. Do the Radical Forgiveness worksheet – it will help!

  3. This is deep. I am in my third job in which I struggle with my boss. I also struggle to quit because I feel like I have to prove myself even though no matter how hard I try or work it seems that these bosses only see the negative in what I do. How do I use forgiveness to break this cycle?

    • Okay, I looked this one up. There is a book called 25 Practical Uses for Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping and this is what I found for you on page 226 (and I’m paraphrasing some of this):If there was an adult highly critical of you growing up who always pointed out the negative in your ways, you may have tucked related frustration and anger in your unconscious mind. This is what we all do with childhood wounds. But our Higher self knows the wounds are there and looks for an opportunity for our ego to act them out- unconsciously attracting someone into your life who has similar energy to the person who originally wounded you. You then use that person as a way to resolve the underlying issue. “The workplace is the perfect place to create such a healing drama.”

      Here is the fundamental truth about workspace conflict: “WE ARE NEVER UPSET FOR THE REASON WE THINK.” The conflict at hand is not the issue. This book offers some tools to work through it. And Radical Forgiveness also has a website with online courses and advice.

      Bottom line, you keep attracting the same kind of boss for a reason. Your subconscious wants to heal something but you aren’t quite getting the lesson. Look inward- you’ll begin to see the cycle probably not just with them but others in your past too…and once you identify the lesson to be learned or wound to be healed, the energy will instantly shift within yourself and your bosses will no longer trigger you. You will begin to attract the kind of boss who supports and appreciates you.

      It is possible you need to appreciate yourself more – because what I do know is that if you have a fear of working for negative boss who always points out what you are doing wrong, that is exactly the kind of boss you will attract. Try speaking more positively to yourself and about others, and maybe see if that shifts anything….

      Hope this helps! Excuse Typos….


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