Have you ever been so upset by someone’s actions that you find yourself replaying the event over and over again?
Do you create responses to an imaginary conversation you’d have with that person?
Have you ever walked away from a confrontation and wished that you’d said something different that would have really let them know what kind of person they are?
Or is there a relationship that has ended because you can’t accept how the other person has behaved?
Count me in on all the above!
What I experienced was anger, anxiety, frustration, and doubt. I don’t know about you but that’s not a place I like to live.
There is an antidote to these feelings, and it’s not pulling on gloves and piling into them (although I’ll admit that does have some merit!).
What I’m talking about today is forgiveness.
In this month’s blog, I’ll discuss what forgiveness is, how choosing forgiveness positively affects you and how you can bring forgiveness into your life.
So, what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment toward a person or people that's harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness.
Sounds tough, right? Being wronged and then letting it go…
But what’s the alternative?
Holding on to the pain or resentment we experience when you've been wronged feels right.
But, and this is a biggie…
It harms YOU more than the offender, as they don’t know and will never know how you TRULY feel.
Punishing someone in our thoughts or actions gives us a feeling of control and power. However, quite often, the offender is unaware of their crime, or your actions, therefore only you carry the burden.
Ever been frustrated by someone that doesn’t realise how upset you are with them? The result being you stifle communication or avoid the person, and in turn, you fail to address the real problem.
When we hold onto past grievances and continuously replay them in our minds, it can consume our thoughts and prevent us from fully engaging in the present moment.
Ever been so mad you can’t seem to focus on anything else?
By choosing to forgive, we allow ourselves to break free from the chains of the past and create new connections and experiences in the present.
“I think the first step is to understand forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself." – T.D. Jakes
Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean condoning or forgetting the actions that hurt us. It's more about consciously choosing to let go of the resentment and releasing ourselves from the emotional pain associated with those actions.
It's a personal decision that can be empowering and liberating. Forgiveness allows us to let go of negative thoughts for others and move on without anger or contempt, or the need for retribution.
Part of the reason this is so tough is our instinctual response of anger is a strong emotion which gives us a false sense of empowerment. It's quite easy to hold on to that empowerment as a distraction from the real problems. Being angry creates a feeling of certainty in an uncertain world. But at what cost?
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
It might even be that the person you are angry with, and you need to forgive, is yourself. We all make mistakes. To let go of that pain, we need to forgive ourselves for the choices we've made or the pain we've caused.
For some, this is the hardest step of all.
Self-forgiveness is an important step towards personal growth and healing. Most of the time we respond to situations based on our beliefs. We develop our beliefs through our experiences, and those we are influenced by.
It could be that you fear a repeat of the same actions from others, or from yourself. And so, as a defence mechanism, you protect yourself through your beliefs, which affect your thoughts and emotions.
The truth is, holding on to negative memories or emotions has no purpose. There's nothing you can do to change the past. Focusing on living in the moment allows us to break the connections with the past and create positive connections in the present.
When you choose to be aware of the truth and take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions, it allows us to choose to live in a world of hope, love, trust, happiness, holding a grudge is based in fear, doubt and anxiety.
To be happy, I must forgive. I must let go of the past. Rather than leaning on negative emotions like anger, doubt and judgement, I choose to live my life through considered values which include forgiveness.
Remember, you don’t need to let someone know you forgive them. All you need to do is know that you’d rather forgive them, let go of the negative emotions and move on.
The reality is forgiveness is profoundly powerful. Nelson Mandela forgave his captors and oppressors after spending 27 years in prison. Through forgiveness, he united a divided nation, bringing about reconciliation and leading South Africa towards a brighter future bringing an end to apartheid.
I’m not asking you to change the fortunes of a country. But I will challenge you to let go of that which perpetuates your own pain and suffering.
It's important to remember that forgiveness is a process, and it may take time. It's not always easy, especially when the wounds are deep. However, by actively choosing forgiveness, we can create space for healing, understanding, and empathy. It allows us to move forward with a lighter heart and a renewed sense of peace.
Ultimately, forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. It allows us to break free from the cycle of negativity and open ourselves up to a more fulfilling and joyful life.
While forgiveness can be challenging, there are practices that can assist us on this transformative journey:
Cultivate empathy: Putting ourselves in the shoes of the person who has wronged us can help us understand their perspective and motivations, facilitating empathy and compassion.
Practice self-reflection: Taking the time to reflect on our own actions and understanding our own fallibility can make it easier to extend forgiveness to others.
Seek understanding through communication: Engaging in open and honest conversations allows us to express our feelings, listen to the other person's side, and find a common ground for healing and resolution.
Embrace gratitude: Focusing on the positive aspects of a relationship or situation, rather than dwelling on the negative, can shift our mindset towards forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a transformative power that frees us from the shackles of negativity, resentment, and pain.
By consciously choosing forgiveness, we can release the burden that holds us back, leading to personal growth and stronger relationships. Through practices such as empathy, self-reflection, communication, and gratitude, we can cultivate the gift of forgiveness in our lives.
Forgiveness is how we Live Learn and Grow.