Forgiveness is an act that liberates us from the weight of resentment and pain, allowing us to reclaim our peace and emotional well-being. In this Article, we’ll explore the essence of forgiveness and outline actionable steps towards embracing this transformative practice.

Understanding Forgiveness

  • Definition: Forgiveness is a conscious choice to release feelings of resentment, anger, or vengeance towards someone who has caused harm.  It’s a detachment.  It is not about letting someone off the hook, forgetting, or excusing, but about no longer being willing to be a victim because of someone else’s actions.
  • Inner Healing: It’s an internal process that doesn’t necessarily involve reconciling with the person who caused the hurt.  However, to have a healthy relationship with someone moving forward, releasing resentment and bitterness will go a long way to allow us to maintain important relationships.
  • Cognitive Health:  It’s releasing any of our own cognitive distortions:  All or Nothing Thinking (seeing things in absolutes such as all good or all bad when little really is), Overgeneralization (drawing huge conclusions from rare events), Discounting the Positives (rejecting positives as unimportant compared to the negative), Jumping to Conclusions (interpreting things as negative without basis).

The Benefits of Forgiveness

  • Emotional Liberation: Forgiveness frees us from the burden of carrying negative emotions, self-pity, feelings of being a victim due to someone else’s choices, and fosters our own emotional well-being.
  • Empowerment: It’s an empowering choice that allows us to take control of our emotions and reactions and control of our lives.
  • Authenticity:  It allows us to be in our true authentic self which includes curiosity (why might this have happened, what would someone else’s viewpoint be) compassion (I’ve never been in their shoes but I imagine it could be hard), and courageous (I have my strengths and my resilience to work through this without blaming).
  • Self-Regard & Self-Care:  All we can control is ourselves and when we focus on ourselves, our growth, our present and future, we put our attention on us, we focus on creating the life we want and would rather have.
  • Radical Acceptance:  When we accept reality and stop fighting what has already happened, we feel relief because we let go of the fight of what “should have been” and deal with what is in front of us.  We let go of the “should-haves” and realize we cannot find peace until we accept what has happened and adjust our attitudes about it.

Steps Towards Forgiveness

  1. Acknowledgment of Hurt:

Acknowledge the pain and hurt caused by the situation or person. Allow yourself to feel and validate these emotions.

  1. Understanding the Impact:

Reflect on how holding onto resentment affects your emotional well-being and relationships.

  1. Decision to Forgive:

Make a conscious decision to let go of the resentment, recognizing that it’s for your own emotional freedom.  Choose to forgive.

  1. Empathy and Compassion:

Try to understand the perspective of the person who caused the harm. This doesn’t justify their actions but helps in empathizing.  Lack of forgiveness comes with judgment of what someone should or should not have said or done and it is not our right to condone someone personally but instead assessing their choices, behaviors, and words that have impacted us.

  1. Release Resentment:

Work on releasing negative emotions. This could involve writing a letter (not necessarily sent) expressing your feelings or engaging in therapeutic activities.  Waiting for the other person to make things right for you might have you waiting a long time and it’s our responsibility to govern our attitudes and get internal validation.

  1. Self-Reflection:

Reflect on any role you might have played in the situation and forgive yourself for any perceived mistakes.  Identifying our role is not placing blame or fault necessarily. Ownership and accountability will go a long way, both yours and theirs.  If you need an apology or something else from the other person, ask for it.  We cannot get our needs met if we are not asking for what we need.  The worst things that could happen is they could refuse to apologize and we’ve lost nothing really.

  1. Setting Boundaries:

If necessary, set clear boundaries to protect yourself while still practicing forgiveness.  Boundaries address your choices and behaviors, not the other persons.  If boundaries do not work because someone continues to actively cause you harm, then it might be time to discontinue a toxic relationship.  Otherwise, boundaries are indicative of healthy relationships and healthy communication on our part.  It’s best to respond with a boundary than to react out of feelings.  Typically, if we react, it’s not our best response or best self and it compounds the harm to ourselves and adds guilt for our part in the situation.

  1. Letting Go:

Finally, consciously release the attachment to the hurt and resentment, allowing yourself to move forward with a sense of inner peace.  There is no benefit to feeling like a victim except receiving attention and pity, and that’s not leaning into our strengths.  Approach forgiveness as a process rather than an immediate act.  Working through the process with a professional, through guided meditations, cord cutting meditations, yoga nidra, IFS, EMDR, or other techniques can assist with the journey.  Lean into your supports – we all need a tribe – friends, family, clergy, professionals, and others.  Ask them to listen and not give unsolicited advice.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey of Forgiveness

The gift we can give ourselves is forgiveness. By choosing to forgive, we break free from the chains of bitterness, reclaiming our emotional well-being and empowering ourselves to embrace life with renewed vigor and compassion.  If you need support and help with working through your wounds, seek help from a licensed professional.  There is far more healing in telling someone how you feel and what you need, straightening their crown, and never letting anyone know it was crooked than gossiping about them, staying in a perpetual martyr mode, and remaining bitter.

For further assistance regarding forgiveness consider this seven-day course:

Forgiveness: Healing and Transformation | Better Life Inc

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