The other day I was asked: “Is there ever a time when forgiveness is not attainable? How is forgiving someone possible after so much hurt?” This question started me contemplating forgiveness and its importance in our healing and our ability to move on with our lives. I do believe that forgiveness is attainable for everyone. It does take time and effort. It’s a process of learning compassion for yourself and the other person. Often we have to learn to forgive ourselves first.
There are consequences to our health and well being to not forgiving. We run the risk of high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. By not forgiving we live with the anger and hurt and it affects all our present relationships. We are not able to move on and enjoy our life fully.
What does forgiveness mean? When we forgive we are not saying that what happened was okay or right. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you. It doesn’t minimize or justify what happened. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.
Forgiveness is letting go of the anger and wish for revenge. You don’t have to tell the person you’ve forgiven them – it is a commitment to a process of change within your own self. The experience of what caused you pain and hurt will always be a part of your life. What forgiveness does is loosen the hurtful experience’s hold on you and allow you to focus on the more positive things in your life.
Without forgiveness you are the one that keeps suffering. Forgiveness helps you change the dynamic and your relationship with what happened. Forgiveness helps you move on. It brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
How do we forgive?
Forgiveness is a choice – here are some steps:
1. Fully acknowledge what happened and your feelings – work on an inner healing process. It’s important to go through the grief. Often it is helpful to talk with someone – a spiritual advisor, psychotherapist, life coach, etc.
2. Look at what you can learn from the situation – How can you keep yourself safe? What was your part in what happened?
3. Create a visualization where you see yourself stepping back from the situation and letting go of the pain and anger. Send yourself love and compassion.
4. Visualize the other person – let them know how you felt and that you are in a place now where you are letting go of the anger, hurt and feelings of revenge – you are moving on with your life – you may want to say that you are praying for them, or sending light and hoping they too will find healing.
Think of how forgiveness can change your life. Forgiveness takes away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. It moves you out of your victim stance and releases the control and power the offending person has on your life. Forgiveness brings peace of mind, health and well being, happiness and spiritual healing.
What has been your experience of forgiveness?