‘The nature of forgiveness is mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us.’
I am a sensitive, emotional soul. I wear my heart on my sleeve probably a little more than I would like to and I have trouble letting go – I’ll be the first to admit these traits. Of course as with most things there are pros and cons to each of these but what I have learned, and in fact still are, is that it doesn’t matter so much as to whether you are sensitive or thick-skinned, weep or blow off a bit of steam, hold things in or say a little more than you should; what it all boils down to and what is at the heart of it all is your ability to forgive.
It is inevitable that people in our lives are going to at some point or another hurt us or do wrong by us, especially those closest to us. It goes without saying that this works both ways and we too have been or will be guilty of hurting someone else in this lifetime.
Forgiveness to some may be an incredibly easy thing to do, whilst for others it may feel almost impossible.
For the larger part of my life I have fallen into the latter and whilst that may not make me admirable, it makes me human.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I am sensitive and emotional being. When I am hurt or feel someone has done wrong by me it cuts me deep. I ponder the action and wonder how this happened and I simply can’t fathom it when the other person won’t apologise for their actions. I try to analyse the situation which ultimately allows this huge ugly monster to fester in the pit of me. Meanwhile the other person most likely (definitely) doesn’t have a clue how much I am suffering and goes about their day-to-day life none the wiser, whilst continue to ruminate.
How utterly unhealthy is this? (That’s a rhetorical question people).
I openly and honestly admit all of this to explain that it gets to a point where you have to stop and ask yourself ‘who is suffering?’ ‘Who is this serving or benefiting?’ and I guarantee you that ninety-nine point nine percent of the time the answer is ‘I am’ and ‘no-one’ respectively.
I think there is a common misconception where people, including myself at one point, believe if they forgive the other person for the wrong they have done that in effect they are saying what that person did was ok or acceptable. They think they are giving in, not standing up for themselves or letting the other person off the hook. They can’t see that forgiveness is the key to their freedom and happiness.
I am here to tell you that forgiveness doesn’t 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.
When you find yourself in a difficult situation and notice feelings of anger, bitterness or resentment building up, I encourage you to take a step back, remove yourself from the emotional attachment and look at things objectively to gain a clear perspective on what is really happening on a deeper level.
‘Are these feelings of anger and resentment making me feel better?’
‘Am I going to move forward with my life in a positive way holding onto this?’
‘Why am I so angry? Bitter? (fill in the blank)
‘What role have I played in this?’
‘Is it possible that the other person has a point?’
‘Am I playing the victim?’
‘What is going to resolve the issue and do I want to resolve it?’
‘Do I want to be happy?’
Trust me, I know it’s not easy but asking yourself these pertinent questions can be so liberating, healing and freeing. I think the last one ‘do I want to be happy?’ is key.
It took me a long time to realise that the self-sabotaging beliefs I had were not conducive to my own happiness. I was the one who was suffering, who was not moving on with my life and was allowing these foolish thoughts to get the better of me instead of taking ownership for my own happiness.
I eventually learnt that the act of forgiveness is much more about ourselves than the other person, in fact a very small part if any, is about the other person.
When we don’t give ourselves permission to forgive we are robbing ourselves of our own happiness.
The benefits of forgiveness are plentiful. Not only are you giving yourself permission to let go and move on with your life (which I personally think is the best part), you also create healthier and happier relationships in your life, decrease your risk of stress, anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure and have greater psychological and spiritual wellbeing.
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentments and thoughts of revenge – or embrace forgiveness and move forward.
I for one know I choose the latter, what about you? Which are you going to choose?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below on this and how the act of forgiveness has or can help you.