What is forgiveness? It is making a deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you. It takes a strong person to say “I’m sorry” and an even stronger person to forgive. Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees them from their own anger and deeply held negative feelings. It empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life. In essence, it’s about giving up the hope that the past could be any different and accept that something happened.
The opposite of forgiveness is revenge. This negative emotion is never sweet and can literally tear you apart. If you get revenge on the person who harmed you, they may no longer suffer depending on the revenge but either way, it will have a direct impact on your life where you will only suffer more. Some people say the best revenge is just moving on and let karma do the rest. What are your thoughts on that?
Confusion about forgiveness is when we think about forgiving someone who has harmed us, we believe we are saying to that person it’s okay what they did and we’re letting them off the hook or giving up our control. This isn’t true and it’s not about accepting bad behavior. We might even see ourselves as a doormat. When you forgive, you do not wear rose-colored glasses or deny the seriousness of what happened to you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Maybe some of you reading this blog have felt this way and I have to admit I did for a long time too.
Forgiveness comes in its own time and shouldn’t be rushed so if you are struggling with forgiveness then it’s not the right time and that’s okay. When you do feel ready to forgive, try to recognize the causes that led that person to act as they did and this can help facilitate the process of forgiveness. I am currently on my own journey of forgiveness and I understand how difficult it can be, you are not alone.
Why should we forgive? Here are a few things I have discovered about forgiveness.
- It makes us happier
- Improves our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health
- Sustains relationships worth saving
- Self-esteem, confidence and self-worth return at a higher level
- If we don’t transform our pain, we transmit it to those around us
- When you forgive you don’t change the past, you change your future by rising above what happened. It’s life changing for the better
- Sets you free from that person and their negativity, you take your power back
How do we forgive someone who has harmed us deeply? This is where the rubber fails to hit the road.
- Accept and process your anger even though it’s difficult, be patient
- Acknowledge your revenge fantasies, they are just that
- Forgive yourself it’s crucial to your healing
- Try to see a common humanity between you and the person you are trying to forgive
- See them with a compassionate eye. They’re only human just like you
- Realize the cure for pain and suffering is where personal growth and development can arise. This is usually a time where you might see the silver lining in your situation
- Forgetting about it and pretending it did not happen is not forgiveness
In the beginning, it’s really hard and it takes so much strength to forgive. To change the world, we need to change our mind. Hanging onto these negative emotions ends up hurting us in the end. When you don’t forgive, you keep that wound open and you inflict more pain on yourself which isn’t healing for you at all.
Forgive them even if they aren’t sorry and even if you never get that apology. I know…that’s a tough one.
When we struggle with being right or being happy, we are still struggling with forgiveness and that’s okay. We need to discover how to get out of our own way and stop holding ourselves hostage because we end up blocking the flow of happiness in our life. After all, on the other side of forgiveness is a personal freedom which is amazingly beautiful.
Forgiveness happens when we stop holding a grudge and let go of our right to resentment for being mistreated. It doesn’t mean we stop protecting ourselves but it does mean we let go of emotional retaliation which only hurts us in the long run. Carrying around revenge in your heart will only weigh you down in negativity. It takes more strength to be able to forgive but what you resist can persist and that is no way to go through life carrying around this unnecessary baggage. Say it for yourself and move on, you are actually giving yourself a gift of peace by doing this.
True forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, the other person doesn’t need to be present or even know we have forgiven them because forgiveness takes place in our minds and in our bodies. We do it for ourselves so we can be at peace and live our best life, free from negativity. By letting go of the past and surrendering to what is, you create the process of emptying your mind. The only way to stop the vicious cycle of reacting to pain by causing more pain is to step out of the system by taking a step back.
Most importantly, we need to allow our hearts fill with compassion and learn how to forgive ourselves. This might be more difficult than forgiving another human being because we are so hard on ourselves. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it. Hindsight is always 20/20. Your best teacher is your last mistake so it’s important to learn from it so it is not repeated in your life and then move on. Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake. Try and be self-compassionate.
Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free. Trust yourself and forgive them.
I wish you all the very best on your journey of giving yourself the gift of forgiveness.
“By owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. And when we own the story, then we can write the ending.” ~ Brené Brown