FORGIVENESS

FORGIVENESS

Forgiving someone or an entity of some sort is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you. It makes no difference whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. The action of forgiving brings peace of mind and frees you from corrosive anger. True forgiveness does not require positive feelings toward the offender, but at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, 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.

When you forgive, don’t gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you or release them from legal accountability. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind.

Forgiveness can lead to:

  1. healthier relationships.
  2. Improved mental health
  3. Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  4. Lower blood pressure
  5. Fewer symptoms of depression
  6. A stronger immune system
  7. Improved heart health

We can appreciate the benefits, but letting go is not so easy, or everyone would do it. There are a few folks that are just naturally forgiving. Being hurt by someone, particularly a relationship partner or someone you love, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful situations, feelings filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. Resentment is a killer and is particularly difficult to deal with. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you will find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness.

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  1. Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  2. Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  3. Become depressed or anxious
  4. Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  5. Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you can:

  1. Decide that forgiveness may improve your own life.
  2. When you feel resentment enter your thinking, look carefully at the circumstances and see if you had a role in the situation.
  3. Identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what. If you had a role in the situation, even a slight bit, make sure to enter your apology as a part of your forgiveness.
  4. Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior, and work to release them.
  5. Choose to forgive the person who’s offended you.
  6. Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life.
  7. In many cases, the person that harmed you may not realize what they have done and they have been renting space in your head for free.

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who’s hurt you doesn’t admit wrong. If you find yourself stuck:

Practice empathy. Try seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view. Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way.

  1. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  2. Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  3. Pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  4. Be aware that forgiveness is a process and the other person doesn’t really have to accept your action.  The healing is for YOU. Accept their feeling and let it go.

It is important to remember that you cannot change another person.  People have to changes themselves.  Forcing another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — to bring you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person through the elimination of your resentment.

What happens when I have a role in creating a resentment or I have offended someone? The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. With this knowledge of harms done, admit it to those you’ve harmed. Tell them you were wrong and speak of your sincere sorrow or regret and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

You can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

Men seem to have more trouble with forgiveness. The difficulty really lies in cultural attitudes about forgiveness and masculinity, and men have to do some extra work. A forgiveness program for guys might include contemplating examples of powerful, forgiving men, or reflecting on how forgiveness is actually a form of strength and courage.  Admitting you were wrong is a difficult thing for a man, even though most of us have had ample practice at being wrong.

“I am so very, very sorry sweetheart! I was wrong.”

“Yes, you were! Why do you do stuff like that?”

“I honestly don’t know, but I am going to work on it!”

The guy is clueless—he doesn’t know what he did, why he did it, or what to do about it. Not the best situation but better than silence.

In the meantime, both men and women who are suffering from an unforgiven wrong they committed may benefit from forgiving themselves. If you had known that your action would cause pain to others or yourself, you probably wouldn’t have done it. And even if you knew that you were causing damage at the time, you had no idea how much you would regret it in the future. Seeing ourselves as imperfect is difficult at best. So, we try to avoid mistakes at all costs, and when we do make a misstep, our first impulse is to ignore it.

In order to forgive ourselves, we first have to admit to ourselves that we were wrong. We have to acknowledge the wrong—which feels almost counter to our sense of well-being. Mistakes, failures, and even incredibly stupid acts are part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow.  It is hard to be human and not do something stupid every so often.

Forgiving others is the better way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.