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What is a Good Life? #35
Exploring Forgiveness with Marina Cantacuzino MBE
On the 35th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I'm delighted to be joined by Marina Cantacuzino MBE. Marina is an award-winning journalist, author, and Founder of The Forgiveness Project, a charity that collects and shares real stories of forgiveness for people to consider, examine, and choose forgiveness in the face of atrocity.
In this episode, we explore the role of forgiveness in transforming pain, the appropriateness of forgiving or not forgiving in different circumstances, what allows us to forgive, and the role curiosity often plays in forgiving others. Marina also shares numerous inspiring stories of forgiveness from her wonderful project that has spawned a book (Forgiveness: An Exploration), a BBC radio series, and exhibitions throughout the world.
This episode will give you plenty to contemplate regarding the idea of forgiveness that you may not have considered before. It will also reveal the complexity and ambiguity of the topic, as well as that of life itself.
Finally, if you are anything like me, it will make you reflect on your own relationships presently and perhaps serve as an impetus to reach out to people you want to be more at peace with in your life.
The weekly clip from the podcast (3 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (63 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
Forgiveness I often find is as much for ourselves and our own internal harmony than it is about the other person. That is not to say we become pushovers; we can forgive someone and still let go of them, we can forgive someone and still maintain our boundaries, we can forgive someone and chose not to see them again.
There are few more empty expressions in life than, “I forgive you”, if we continue to bring up the scenario for what we forgave someone for, and worse for ourselves, if we continue to play that scenario over and over while punishing that person in our heads.
Whether we say the words or not we are still left with our own internal experience of how we relate to this act, event or person. Which can frequently infect our own general mood, how we treat others, and how we perceive the world and other people.
During the course of this interview Marina beautifully captures the ambiguity and complexity of forgiveness, as well as the times where it is appropriate and not appropriate, depending on the likelihood of condoning future transgressions.
However, regardless of the external circumstance, I see forgiveness more as an internal act of letting go than ceremonially bestowing something on someone externally.
Forgiveness also acts as a test of our virtues and indeed of our relationship with ourselves. If we claim to be open-hearted, where does this open-heartedness go in the moments of discomfort? If we claim to be empathetic, curious, and open-minded of other people’s experience, where do these virtues go in moments when we are hurt? Are these virtues only required of us when we have no conflict in our lives or are feeling at our best?
Whether I externally forgive someone or not, these moments continually test my capacity to at least let go of things internally. If life has taught me anything it is that the road is a lot more difficult to navigate the more I hold onto. While the more I close my heart, the smaller the world, and the possibilities within it, become for me.
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3. Full Episode - Exploring Forgiveness with Marina Cantacuzino MBE - What is a Good Life? #35
4. This week’s Questions
Is there someone in your life that you’d really like to forgive, what is presently getting in the way?
Is there someone’s forgiveness in life that you are seeking, have you asked for it explicitly or addressed the issue directly?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 150 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.