Savannah Hanson: Innocence and forgiveness |

Savannah Hanson: Innocence and forgiveness

Savannah Hanson

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” — Alexander Pope.

Many of us understand the power of forgiveness, that to forgive our “enemies” is essential to peace of mind. Yet many will see it as a process where we recognize the person “messed up” yet out of our benevolence and our own (perhaps unconscious) superior spiritual standing, we are willing to overlook their sins.

This is not true forgiveness. In radical forgiveness, we look past the ego errors of another and choose to see only their divinity. If you have been reading my columns for some time, you will recognize this is a theme I repeat.

Why? Because it can take seismic shifts before the ego is willing to release its death grip on being right.

To access true forgiveness where we literally see past the unskillful behavior of another requires radical self-discipline. This takes us to a whole new level of forgiveness with the accompanying inner peace.

When our bodies move into reactivity as an old condition or wound is triggered within us, the fight or flight mechanism may have our judgment very clouded. It may feel like the best we can do is not to shriek at the person.

I saw someone at the gym rant and rave and give the staff “a piece of her mind.” This reinforced my irrevocable decision to choose to maintain peace of mind.

Keeping your ego in check

As the ego is in the most intense stages of being unraveled, sometimes the best we can do is survive it so please only have compassion for yourself. Yet as inner spaciousness develops, we are more at choice.

We have perhaps the momentary presence not to move into immediate reactivity. Maybe we can not say the angry words that come to mind. Or after the fact, we can apologize and promises ourselves to be more aware next time.

We are each doing the best that we can. Yet eventually we will witness how much peace flows when we no longer need to be right, feel victimized or hold a grudge.

Perhaps we can actually observe where another’s unskillful behavior stems from, see how their past conditioning makes them liable to be reactive in certain situations. Perhaps we know their enneagram type and are aware of the particular areas of challenge for our loved ones.

One possibility to anchor forgiveness is to begin any conversation that feels potentially volatile with a clear intent to let peace be the goal of the conversation. Intend to see the divine in the person, to look with clear eyes. Like a muscle, over time this intent will sink deeper into consciousness and give us a much greater chance of having peaceful interactions.

Stories of acceptance

I want to share a couple of wonderful stories about seeing innocence and the power of forgiveness and acceptance.

A story I was told yesterday is about a woman who treated herself to an outrageously valuable gift to celebrate her great success. She bought an emerald and diamond bracelet worth upwards of $75,000- $100,000.

Yet when one day it disappeared amidst housekeepers and repairmen, her first thought was, I hope the person who got it really needed it and benefits greatly from having it. Wow, now this is a highly evolved response!

I was not surprised to hear the bracelet mysteriously reappeared in her house two years later despite having searched for it everywhere when it disappeared.

Another situation was when a friend went to Cancun a few weeks ago. She had heard how she needed to be very careful as there were likely to be many thieves there. She dismissed that idea and enjoyed her trip thoroughly.

On the last day at the resort, she noticed her cell phone and the money she had left on the table were missing. She immediately went into acceptance and the true forgiveness of seeing no error.

She never experienced herself as a victim or was resentful. Then, recently, she got the impulse to share with the company what had occurred, offering her gratitude for a wonderful stay. She simply shared her experience. The manager thanked her for her graciousness. A few days later she opened her bank account to see that the price of the entire resort stay had been refunded to her.

Let the love flow through you

Over time we learn to catch ourselves when we feel ourselves move into resentment or victim, learning not to believe we are being treated unfairly. We literally begin to see with new eyes.

I recently saw a relative that for years I could not forgive because of my perception he had hurt another. When I saw him a few days ago, I had literal tears of joy to see past those old stories to witness his absolute innocence.

Don’t be surprised once forgiveness becomes your modus operandi if you find yourself surrounded by angels and your life seems to be filled with magic and gifts, support and generosity.

It is my direct experience for the last six months that seeming obstacles disappear as I approach challenges. The old adage we reap what we sow becomes a fun game of extending love and waiting for the miracles to show up.

May we all leave behind in the old year all that no longer serves us especially guilt, blame, scarcity, judgment, and fear.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” — Lewis B. Smedes.

For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at 530-575-5052 or

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