Part 2: Confessions of a Revenge Porn Addict

Hacking Forgivness

I recently wrote about my addiction to revenge porn: fantasizing about evening the score for wrongs and betrayals. It’s not pretty, but there are people I want to see fail in a major way.
Nor do I think I’m alone or not being spiritual when I’m out of sorts toward some people. I remember a wonderful New Thought minister who sat near me in the church lobby to a take a break after a service. Obviously frustrated with someone, he said angrily and out loud to no one in particular, “I’ll speak my word!”

Reading two books in one snowy spring day signaled my need to let grudges go. The first was Mitch Horowitz’s life-changing The Miracle of Definite Chief Aim and the second Vishen Lakhiani’s The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. The unmistakable message in both books: holding onto the past limits manifesting future good. It’s been a rough year-and-a-half for my wife Diane and I, but we have a passionate vision for our future. Do we want grudges to get in the way? Definitely not. Still I feel hesitation in granting full absolution for their perceived sins.
I have made progress. Some days I feel quite magnanimous and holy and proclaim to the universe, “I forgive those bastards.” Then I think about how those bastards have wronged me or my beloved and the embers of anger fire up again.

I’ve decided to try hacking my way to forgiveness. Borrowed from computer lingo, lifestyle hackers experiment with everything from meditation to mantras to find the most effective methods to get high-quality results in less time. Perhaps less time isn’t applicable with forgiveness, but effective methods, particularly to overcoming resistance, are paramount.
Why resistance? There’s no low hanging fruit on my forgiveness list. We’re talking substantive wrongs and betrayals and in one awful case, violent crime. In reflecting on my need to forgive, realized that the majority of these transgressions don’t involve me directly, but adversely affected people I love.
I was even resistant to trying the principle forgiveness exercise in The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim. I found it necessary to use baby steps. Fortunately, Mitch provides forgiveness preparation exercises: praying for guidance to open to forgiveness, mediating on the benefits of forgiveness, and contemplating how forgiving would impact those you love.
This process helped me more deeply anchor the call that Diane and I feel to move on and open to something greater. And it reminded me how hanging onto grudges does not allow me to be fully present with those I love. The desire for revenge does nothing to the transgressors and only negatively impacts me.
I also felt the need to work at an energetic level, cutting chords and ties to the people I need to forgive. Most wisdom teachers are emphatic on this point:  not forgiving ties us to the transgressors psychologically and energetically. Spiritual teacher David Spangler says this is the deeper meaning behind the famous saying to turn the other check. It means not to return like energy with like energy such as anger with anger. To do so only creates a negative feedback loop. This does not mean avoiding the anger, he says. One can embrace their anger with compassion, contain it, and transform it rather than send it out.
Daniel C. Matt, in God and the Big Bang, writes of a Kabbalistic alchemical process where one traces a “negative” emotion back to the Divine and the qualities of the mystical Tree of Life. For instance, anger becomes Gevorah, or strength, power and boundaries.
Clearly, it’s time for me to set an energetic boundary with these past situations and people to gain the strength to open to the new.
This is not unlike certain Buddhist Tantra exercises where embracing a negative emotion flips it to its opposite. Anger becomes discriminating awareness. My kabbalistic rabbi, Howard Hoffman often says that Judaism correctly understood is closer to Buddhism than Christianity. He too emphasizes practices that transform the poison into the cure.
Diane and I recently spent a wonderful afternoon with Karen Schultz, a talented and compassionate energy healer based in southern Colorado, near our home in Crestone, sometimes called America’s Shangri-La because of its spiritual culture.  We felt reenergized and metaphorically several pounds lighter after that day. Challenges still came, but we started rebounding quickly and finding new paths to our passions. Karen has a helpful twist on the practice of energetic chord cutting. It involves intending that you are returning the power that rightfully belongs to the other person as well as reclaiming your own.

The indomitable Tony Robbins writes that seeing yourself as the author of your story reclaims your power to forgive, releases others and harvests the positive lessons. I know that my resentments over some past relationships faded into non-significance once I met my Beloved Diane. I can also see that the more Diane and I move into new territory now, the easier it is to contemplate forgiving.
So, my task is to continue to hack my willingness to forgive until I’m ready to approach the full forgiveness exercise recommended by Mitch.
Have you been able to forgive the unforgivable? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.

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7 thoughts on “Part 2: Confessions of a Revenge Porn Addict

  1. I do think the best thing is letting go of the person involved and staying out of their life. Many years ago I just wanted to let a person I found antagonistic see my revenge and when I passed her office I threw a small book at her. I guess I could have been prosecuted. The book didn’t hit her but I was grateful to make it the end of any relationship with her. I have long since forgiven myself. What I have learned is that my intuition opens me to such folks faster than earlier in my life so that I don’t even begin any kind of relationship with them. “Peace” I utter and let them go.

    • Good points Frank. Some are better loved at a distance and the sooner we realize it the better. Like you, if I could go back in a time machine, there are many choices I would make differently and have ended things sooner.

  2. I like what you say about boundaries. Enneagram teachers Russ Hudson and Don Richard Riso define anger as “a way of resisting an attack on our integrity, whether physical, moral, or spiritual.” I think we resist forgiveness because we mistakenly believe it is the same as saying that the boundary violation was OK, or that forgiveness means taking down healthy boundaries. Not forgiving is an attempt to restore the balance in an unbalanced situation (a situation that is in the past). I also like what Joseph Murphy says about the subconscious mind and nature being always forgiving. He writes, “Life forgives you when you cut your finger. The subconscious intelligence within you sets about immediately to repair it. New cells build bridges over the cut…Life holds no grudges against you,
    and it is always forgiving you. Life brings you back to health, vitality, harmony, and
    peace, if you cooperate by thinking in harmony with nature. Negative, hurtful memories,
    bitterness, and ill will clutter up and impede the free flow of the Life Principle in you.”

    • Thanks Tim. So much agree on constructive uses of anger energy and the importance of boundaries to love. I would go as far as to say it is the prerequisite for what Dr. Murphy talks about so beautifully in your quote.

  3. The distinction between letting go of anger, resentment, and so on, and forgiving another person has been lost in recent years. The first is an internal action, the second an interaction. Both can be beneficial, but neither should be automatically assumed to be the healthiest or the morally correct choice, despite what all the most popular gurus have been telling us lately.

    Once one reads beyond the New Age and New Age-adjacent superstars, one finds more nuance:

    “Forgiveness as it is commonly understood is only one of many routes to resolution, humanity, and peace … and not forgiving without vindictiveness can be morally and emotionally right.”
    “People need to be told that resolved, thoughtful unforgiveness is as liberating as forgiveness.”
    –From Forgiving & Not Forgiving: A New Approach to Resolving Intimate Betrayal,
    by Jeanne Safer, Ph.D.

    “… unlike many professionals, I do not push forgiveness upon my clients.”
    “In spite of the fact that it has now become politically correct to forgive, not forgiving when an apology is not forthcoming can be a healthy choice.”
    From The power of apology : healing steps to transform all your relationships by Beverly Engel

    “It is easier to preach glibly the virtues and pragmatic value of forgiveness and reconciliation than it is truly to understand why, when, whom, and how to forgive.”
    From Wounds Not Healed By Time: The Power of Repentance and Forgiveness
    By Solomon Schimmel

    • Thanks for this perspective Larry. I agree that forgiveness is often recommended but not usually well defined in spiritual literature. I define forgiveness more in the first sense of what you mention- letting go of resentments. I don’t believe the second sense- an actual interaction with whoever transgressed is necessary or even healthy in some cases.

  4. I am in agreement with what you expressed here, I feel I have forgiven and let go but something triggers the anger feeling, it is that I really would like to move on! Edwene Gaines talks about in her book The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity to review your day and forgive yourself and others daily until this practice becomes part of you! I have done it for periods of time and I can see/feel the difference in me! I haven’t read the book The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim but I am curious to learn more and use something that can help me! Thank you Harv!!