Forgiveness: The path to a freer life

Everyone has been hurt. Maybe your parents criticized you when you were young, or your colleague sabotaged a project or you were pushed aside and ignored.  Whether a big event or something small, these injuries can leave feeling angry and bitter for a very long time.

Pain, especially emotional can stay with us for a long time. Learning to let go and move on is critical to becoming all that we are capable of.

Pain, especially emotional can stay with us for a long time. Learning to let go and move on is critical to becoming all that we are capable of.

 

When we don't actively forgive, we might be the ones who pay the largest price. However, by embracing forgiveness, we can also embrace harmony, hope, appreciation and joy. As we journey on this path of holistic health let’s contemplate how forgiveness can improve physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

 

Forgiveness defined

 Generally, forgiveness is a choice to let go of anger and bitterness. The hurt may always remain in your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you concentrate on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

 

Forgiveness does not mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

 

What’s in it for me?

 Letting go of resentment and bitterness can make way for joy, well-being and inner harmony. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Happier relationships

  • Greater person well-being spiritually and mentally

  • Lower levels of stress

  • A healthier heart

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Less depression

  • Strengthening of your immune system

  • Greater feeling of self-worth

 So what?

 The alternative if you chose to hold on to the grudge may be:

  • Anger and bitterness may color your life experiences

  • You may not be able to enjoy the here and now

  • You may feel depressed and anxious

  • You may feel that you are not in sync with your core beliefs

  • You may lose connection with those closest to you

What can we do?

 Forgiving is a choice to begin a process.

 The way you chose to let go of past hurt is completely in your hands.

 Each person, and each experience is different and each is colored by our own life experiences. 

 Some ideas to begin are below:

  • Simply begin to consider the benefits of forgiveness and what it may bring to your life today

  • Begin to consider how the events that led you to hear have colored your life thus far. Are you allowing the events to hold you back from what you really want in life?

  • Make and active decision to forgive the person when you are ready

  • Chose to move on from being the victim and release the control that the situation has held over your life

  • If you are not ready to actively forgive the person face to face, simply begin to visualize the situation and individual, as you do quietly and succinctly say to this vision, “I forgive you, do you forgive me?” Then picture the person saying the same thing to you.

 

As you begin to embrace forgiveness, you will begin to define yourself and your life in a healthier manner. You may find strength and happiness that you have missed for some time.

 And if I cannot forgive?

 Understand that forgiveness can be difficult. This is especially true if the person who's offended you doesn't acknowledge the wrong doing or doesn't express his or her own grief. When, not if, you find yourself stuck:

  • Attempt to place yourself into the other person’s shoes

  • Consider if there are reasons why the person has acted in such a hurtful way.

  • Think about how you’ve felt when you’ve been hurt and have experienced the other side of forgiveness yourself.

  • You may find it useful to write or use guided meditation.

  • Talk with a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.

  • Remember, this is a process. You may have to work on forgiving over and over again to fully find a way to let the situation go.

What if you have to be around that person?

 Given that forgiveness is a process which takes time, what do we do in cases where we have to interact with those whom have hurt us? Perhaps you may:

  • You can choose to be present or to circumvent times where an interaction is imminent

  • Always respect yourself and do what you feel is right

  • Always try to approach a situation with an open mind and open heart. It may lead you to a place you never expected.

Remember-when dealing with people, we cannot make them change.

The point of forgiveness isn’t to change the other person. Try to think of forgiveness more about how it can change you and your life. Remember the benefits, forgiveness may bring you harmony, contentment, and emotional and spiritual healing. In the end forgiveness can bring back your own personal power by taking away the power the other person held in your life up till now.

What if you need to forgive yourself?

 We all need to think about the mistakes we’ve made from an honest perspective and realize that our decisions have impacted other lives. However, to approach this in the healthiest manner, we should avoid judging ourselves too harshly. You will make mistakes, you are human.

 

If you are truly sorry, think about admitting your role in the situation and seek to be forgiven. Speak sincerely and don’t make excuses.

The key here is to remember that you cannot force forgiveness, not for yourself nor for anyone else.  We all move to forgiveness in our own time.

 

No matter what, chose to approach everyone from a state of compassion and empathy.