By now, hopefully, we have all heard the tracks on “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s sixth solo album. Whether the relationship she discusses in the album is her own real life marriage with Jay Z or a creation of art, the problems revealed and worked through are fascinating to discuss. How does an independent woman move past her husband’s infidelity to rebuild her marriage and family?
One way to deal with the emotions an infidelity creates is to use mindfulness to reach forgiveness. First, we should try to understand what forgiveness means. As Fred Luskin writes at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good website, forgiveness is an act for yourself, where “you seek the peace and understanding that come[s] from blaming people less after they offend you and taking those offenses less personally” (Fred Luskin, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/nine_steps_to_forgiveness).
There are various reasons why we are hurt by people with whom we have intimate relationships. Most pain comes from our own past from which we did not take the time to heal. Beyoncé reveals her past wounds in the video to “Lemonade.” Before the song, “Daddy Issues,” she uses the poetry of Warsan Shire to talk about a daughter’s relationship with her mother and not-perfect father. The way she is reacting to the infidelity of her husband is in reference to her own father’s cheating and relationship with her mother. In these moments, becoming mindful helps us to focus on the present relationship, not the one of in our past. Mindfulness brings us back to the relationship in front of us, between ourselves and our intimate partner.
One of the most important things to remember when being mindful is that most things that affect us are not done to us personally. Just how we have past wounds, our partners also have past wounds that they perhaps have not treated and healed. This untreated hurt could be what causes others to stray. Once we understand where their actions are coming from, we free ourselves to work towards forgiveness.
However, sometimes we cannot stop certain emotions from popping up. When we have these burst, we should take time to breathe. As we breathe and focus on our breath, we are becoming mindful of our emotions and will be able to understand them, but not react to them. It is ok to be upset, but being aware of our anger and why we are mad will help us with the emotion.
To reach a point of forgiveness, we have to comprehend that we cannot expect things “from [our lives] or from other people that they do not choose to give [us]” (Fred Luskin, “Nine Steps to Forgiveness“). Unfortunately, we do not have the power to make others love us or treat us with respect. If we go through our lives expecting people to give us such things, then we are opening ourselves up to pain and suffering. What we can do, is put our “energy into looking for another way to get [our] positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt [us]” (Fred Luskin, “Nine Steps to Forgiveness“). Mindfulness helps us focus on the moment but also allows us to look around everything that is present in our lives and realize that we have “love, beauty, and kindness around [us]” (Fred Luskin, “Nine Steps to Forgiveness“). These are not dependent on one single person, and because of this we should look beyond that person to find these things. When we do this, we give ourselves back the power to live a fulfilled life.
It is hard to ignore the above statements of reaching forgiveness when we listen to Beyoncé’s journey in “Lemonade.” She starts with the doubt of her husband being faithful, moves into anger, realizes her own pain around her father cheating on her mother, which allows her to find freedom in forgiving her spouse. The album ends with reconciliation and her “torturer became [her] remedy” (Warsan Shire, “Redemption.”). While forgiveness is done for our own good, it “does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning the action” (Fred Luskin, “Nine Steps to Forgiveness“). Two people must be involved for there to be a reconciliation. It seems from the music that the unfaithful partner wanted to get back with his spouse and was working to make that happen. He was recommitting to her and she accepted his commitment along with finding her ability to forgive.
Mindfulness can help us reach forgiveness because it brings us back to the present moment. It allows us to acknowledge our own past hurt and those of the person who we want to try to forgive, thus making the transgression less personal. Mindfulness can help us become aware of the pain but also allow us to release the pain for our own well-being. This takes time, but when we are ready, we can make the “heroic choice to forgive” (Fred Luskin, “Nine Steps to Forgiveness“).
Sources and Further Reading:
Fred Luskin: Nine Steps to Forgiveness
Greater Good in Action: Eight Essentials When Forgiving
Elisha Goldstein: Learn to Forgive Others No Matter What