Gaining Perspective for Forgiveness


Today I want to write about forgiveness, what is it, why it is important, some rituals of forgiveness.

Thinking about how to approach forgiveness, I thought it could be a good idea to talk about the compass of shame. To talk about the compass of shame it was necessary to talk about the comfort, stretch, and panic model.

At the end of the day, when we talk about forgiveness, having perspective is very important. I hope this article will serve you to gain a perspective on forgiveness.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

So shall we start?

Comfort, Stretch, Panic Model

When I learned about comfort, stretch, and panic zones model and compass of reaction, my life had changed. I understood how I as other people operate. As my self-understanding, acceptance, and compassion increased so my understanding, acceptance, and compassion for others did.

I learned them during Jam Gatherings and then I used them a lot in many cases as Jam facilitator, as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter, a sibling. These are the tools that I use daily in every part of my life.

In our daily life when we relate with others and with ourselves, we visit 3 zones: comfort zone, stretch zone, and panic zone.

In each of these zones, we feel differently and our level of responding or reacting to a situation changes dramatically.

  • The comfort zone is the zone in which things are familiar and easy. You’ve been in this situation before; you know what to do.

  • The stretch zone is one in which we are much less comfortable, in which we feel challenged, but in which we are still learning, growing, and listening. Our hearts beat a little faster, we are physically and mentally uncomfortable, but we are still listening to another person (and to ourselves), present, and engaging.

After hanging out in your stretch zone, your comfort zone expands.

  • The panic zone is one in which we are so beyond our stretch zones that we no longer can be fully present in the situation. The panic zone is the moment we stop listening. It only means we are no longer engaged or able to truly listen. Panic zone means we have gone into fight or flight.

What situation might be in the comfort zone for one person, might be in the stretch zone for another, might be in the panic zone for still another. The point is not a comparison but awareness. The more aware I am of myself and others, the more I can listen and act in ways that lead to breakthroughs instead of breakdowns.

Also, these zones are ever-changing. For an individual, what might make the difference for the zone s/he is in, is how much s/he has eaten, or slept, or feels stressed. What one day you might experience in your stretch zone, another day you might find in your panic zone. These zones are all malleable and change within and among us, literally from moment to moment.

“People are sent into our lives to teach us things that we need to learn about ourselves.” –

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

Learning does not happen in the comfort zone, because everything is known there. Nor does learning happen in the panic zone because our listening shuts down. But in the stretch zone, there is the opportunity for growth and learning. The more we hang out there, the more we stretch, the more we expand.

Compass of Shame

“The feeling of being ‘offended’ is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.” – Bryant McGill

In the panic zone, I cannot engage with others, with the world outside of me, or even connect to myself. I am not in my stretch zone, so I cannot constructively engage with the issue. Instead, I am reacting in a few different ways. I may shut down completely, distract myself with something else, start being combative, or criticize myself.

This diagram is what we call the Compass of Shame. We call the horizontal ‘the fight axis’, and the vertical ‘the flight axis’. On the fight axis, you see two reactions: attack the other and attack self. On the flight axis, we have withdrawal and avoidance.

  • Attack other: I blame the other person, a group of people, or ‘the situation’ for everything wrong. I become aggressive and say hurtful words or insults, point fingers, and do not take responsibility. I judge, generalize, and criticize.
  • Attack self: I blame myself for the situation. I say things to myself like: ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I always make this mistake’, ‘I should never have come here in the first place’, ‘I deserve to be in this situation’, etc.
  • Withdrawal: I retreat into myself. I shut off, freeze, and isolate myself. I may be physically present, but I am mentally and emotionally checked out.
  • Avoidance: I distract myself with other activities – like drinking, smoking, eating, working, exercising, watching TV, shopping, playing video games, playing with my phone, Facebook, etc.– to avoid the situation I am in. All addictions are a kind of avoidance, but not every avoidance is an addiction. In our day to day lives, it could look like me taking up a lot of activities like going to the gym, seeing movies, filling my schedule up with things so as not to deal with the conflict I am in or the situation that is bothering me.

Remember that the Compass of Shame is not about how we deal with conflict. Rather, it is about what we do when we cannot deal with conflict productively when we are in the panic zone.”*

“Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.”

All the zones and compass of shame are common for all of us. In our daily life, we are visiting all these areas all the time.

Conflict happens and we are not able to respond to conflict each time, instead, we react. Many situations arose where we need to forgive each other. 

What forgiveness is?

Forgiveness is become aware of oneself, realizing that I am attacking another, and instead of staying in the panic zone and continuing to blame that person, taking responsibility to change something. 

Forgiveness is choosing to be in the stretch zone instead of the panic zone. It is asking yourself, what is going on deep inside, and what you need.  About having the courage to take care of yourself. It is about self-respect and self-love.

What forgiveness does not mean, what forgiveness is not?

Forgiveness is not behaving as nothing happened, it is not withdrawal nor avoidance. 

Why forgiveness is important? How forgiveness helps you?

  • Forgiveness can bring healing
  • Will set you free
  • Forgiveness brings peace of mind
  • Makes you grow as you embraced your darkness and chose love instead of fear
  • Forgiveness will change bitterness to love

Who needs forgiveness?

We all need. Look how beautiful it is this Amazon tradition.

“One tribe in the Amazon has a wonderful tradition. Every year, they go down to the river during the wet season. They are invited to pick up mud and throw it at every person in the tribe who has hurt them in any way. Pretty soon, everybody is covered in mud! They look around, acknowledge the truth that each person has felt hurt and caused hurt, and then all collectively bathe to forgive each other and themselves.” *

Why forgiveness is hard?

Forgiveness cannot be realized from the panic zone, but only from the stretch zone. To forgive, one person needs to ask questions to his/herself and the answers are not always the ones that he/she would like to hear. 

Forgiveness is about knowing yourself better and going to the deeper labyrinths of your inner self. 

How to Express Your Truth to Forgive?

As Eckhart Toll has said, in each situation we have 3 things to do: change it, leave it, accept it. 

Sometimes for the conflict to resolve, you would need to express your truth. The steps below could help you:

  1. Once you realize that you are in a panic zone and attacking another person continuously in your mind or out loud, breathe, be aware, and slow down.
  2. Ask yourself, what is the thing that you need right now? What is that thing that you need to say to be felt understood?
  3. If another person can listen to you, tell your necessity, try to explain your need. To do so, you can make some agreements before starting the conversation. You can ask for the full attention of the other person, explain that it is not easy for you to speak now but please to bear until you finish what you want to say.
  4. Tell what you want to tell in the “I language”. Do not blame the other person, as saying you have done this to me and you hurt me, instead try to focus on your need and your feelings.
  5. Try to be focused, come to the core. At the time of conflict, it is not so easy for the person to listen neither, especially when the other person feels threatened. Do not forget, you are explaining your reality, your perception.
  6. Once you explain what you wanted to tell, you could ask the person to reflect. He/she can tell you what he/she understood. You can see if you feel understood, if not you can add those parts that you are not feeling understood.
  7. Be open to listening as much as possible. Remember the zones and be aware of yourself when you are in your panic zone. If you can have a facilitator to facilitate your conversation it is the best.
  8. Once you are finished explaining your need, be open to listening to what the other person will say.

Ritual of forgiveness

I just finished listening to the book by Louise Hay and Robert Holden called Life Loves You. There they had a forgiveness practice called forgiveness scale which they invited to do once a day for 7 days and live the experience. Below are the details of how doing it:

The Forgiveness Scale:

This is based on a scale of 0 to 100%. You begin choosing the person to focus on, you can choose yourself or choose anyone else, even someone with a slight grievance. You will realize that there is nobody in your life that you do not have a bit of grievance.

Prepare yourself for meditation. Ground yourself. Breathe fully and let your body relax. 

Bring your focus person into your awareness. When you are ready ask yourself, from 0 to 100% how much do I forgive this person?

Record your first answer to this question. Be honest with yourself. The goal here is not to be good, to get it right, to be spiritual, or to be nice. You are not trying to play a role. You want to let yourself free.

Every answer is a good answer. Because it gives you something to work with. 

Let us imagine you chose yourself as the focus person and let’s say your score is 72%. First notice what it likes to be 72%, how does being 72% affect you living your life? How does it affect your happiness, your health, and your success, how does being 72% affect your relationship with others, your capacity to be intimate, to trust, and to forgive? How does being 72% affects your relationship to food, abundance, money, creativity, and spirituality?

Now here is the next step. In your mind, take the number up from 72 to 80%. You can do this 1% at a time if you like. Once you reach 80%, affirm I am willing to forgive myself 80%.

Say these a few times and monitor your responses. Notice any physical sensations, any feelings, and any thoughts. Stay here until it feels comfortable. Then keep going further along the scale to 85% and 90% and 95%. 

Every step you take on the forgiveness scale helps you to let go of the basic fear; I am not loveable and to experience the basic truth; I am loveable. Every step helps you to feel Life Loves You and life wants you to be free of guilt and fear…

…As yourself from 0 to 100% how much I forgive myself, my mother, my father, my sibling, my friend, ex-partner, neighbor, everyone.”**

Forgiveness prayer/forgiveness dua

“I am loveable, and life loves me.

I forgive myself for all the times I have been

afraid I am not loveable. 

I am loveable and life loves me

I forgive myself for judging myself and 

for not believing in my goodness

I am loveable and life loves me


I forgive myself for feeling unworthy and 

for believing I do not deserve love.

I am loveable and life loves me.

I forgive myself for all the times I’ve

criticized and attacked myself

I am loveable and life loves me.


I forgive myself for rejecting and 

giving up on myself.

I am loveable and life loves me.

I forgive myself for doubting myself and 

for not trusting in me.

I am loveable and life loves me.


I forgive myself for my mistakes.

I am loveable and life loves me.

I ask for forgiveness so that I can learn.

I accept forgiveness so that I can grow.

I am loveable and life loves me.”**

What about you?

  • What are your forgiveness rituals? Do you have forgiveness prayer? What do you do to solve your conflicts? Are you aware of your zones?
  • How do you behave when you are in your panic zone? 

*YES Facilitation Manual

** Life Loves You, Louise Hay and Robert Holden

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