Forgiveness is a straight-forward concept, right? Emily J. Hooks, author of the forthcoming book “The Power of Forgiveness: A Guide to Healing and Wholeness” and founder of the Forgiveness Academy, doesn’t think so. Her Power of Forgiveness workshops are giving people a new perspective on the concept, encouraging them to look inward.
“People have a-ha moments every single time at every workshop where they realize the extent to which they have allowed themselves to suffer—because that’s what nonforgiveness always is,” explains Emily. “That’s why self-forgiveness is always an aspect of forgiveness, even if we’re forgiving someone else.”
There’s a slew of common misconceptions about forgiveness; Emily devotes the first chapter of her book to the topic, in fact. Forgiveness isn’t letting it go with a simple gesture, nor is it letting people off the hook. It’s not reconciliation, either, which “is a lot harder because it requires other people. Forgiveness happens internally. … We can forgive anyone for anything in the absence of receiving anything from anyone. It’s always a choice.”
Emily calls forgiveness an act of self-empowerment. “It liberates us from the bonds of the past and allows us to move into a fuller expression of who we were intended to be.”
A traumatic childhood led Emily to become “a very destructive person” for 25 years, dealing with an addiction “that very literally nearly took my life” so she wouldn’t have to feel the pain of her past. She discovered finally that shunning her feelings wasn’t the answer. “We believe that if we get angry or we feel really, really sad about something and allow that feeling to truly move through us that we’re gonna fall part,” she says. “And that’s not what happens. What happens is exactly the opposite of that.”
The falling apart happens when there’s judgment about those feelings. “I teach people not to judge how they feel, and then they’re free to just allow it,” she says.
“There’s no difference between the bad guys and us. That illusion of separation is the source for a lot of our suffering. And I get to say that with authority because I’ve been the bad guy in my story, in my narrative. And we all have,” she says. “That’s the beautiful thing about it. It’s about getting to a place of acceptance and love of our whole selves. And that’s what forgiveness really is, it’s about loving ourselves exactly the way we are and then making bold choices about how we’re going to show up in life.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about [forgiveness]. It’s about getting to a place of acceptance and love of our whole selves. And that’s what forgiveness really is, it’s about loving ourselves exactly the way we are and then making bold choices about how we’re going to show up in life.”
Emily’s workshops equip people with practical takeaways. “It is a fairly structured format so you can get in touch with your suffering,” says Emily, who guides people through meditations and then instructs them to do something they love afterwards. “We don’t want to stay in that state of deep sadness or anger. So we allow it to move into our hearts and we allow it to move out.”
“What we come to recognize is the extent we have impacted our own lives. What I really teach people to do is to be fully accountable for their life,” says Emily. “Ultimately what we’re doing is taking this illusion of being a victim or the bad guy and breaking it apart. We’re shattering that illusion and recognizing that we’re all, every single one of us, much more complex than that one narrow thing about being helpless or being the aggressor. And so everybody, at the end of the workshop, will have the tools they need to move forward with the process.”
What: Forgiveness as a Personal Healing Practice
When: Sunday, November 6 at 1:30 – 4:30 PM
Where: Unity Minneapolis, 4000 Golden Valley Road, Minneapolis, MN 55422