This is the first of two articles on the value and meaning of forgiveness. Written by a British therapist, it outlines our need to engage with this healing process.
Are you currently dealing with a damaging circumstance that’s using way too much emotional energy? Possibly you’ve been hurt in a love relationship or maybe cheated financially. Maybe the damaging attitude or behavior of a friend, member of your family, colleague, or neighbor continues to antagonize you as well.
Reaching farther back, do issues from childhood still worry and also cause you harm?
There is an approach to lighten up your load, reclaim your life and have things back on track. That way is forgiveness. Working through a procedure that leads to forgiveness is a potent antidote to emotional pain. Releasing damaging emotions as well as arriving at that place where forgiveness is possible is often the ultimate way to move forward with your life.
For those who have been hurt by someone else, you might pause to ask, ‘Could forgiving someone end up being self-defeating — even harmful? What if I forgive and then find this person returning to hurt me once again?’
Understand that it is possible to implement measures for self-protection and still work towards forgiveness. You can decide to look for a suitable safeguard in the event that someone is stalking you, for instance. Or, you can move away from the person who is interfering with your life. Forgiveness does not mean foolishness. It might have been a costly lesson, but the learning is yours now.
Through learning how to forgive, we take back whatever strength we might previously have lost. If it’s suitable to tell the other person that we choose to forgive them, this could diffuse tension too. Once verbalize our forgiveness, it can relieve tension, bringing with it a calmness that had previously been denied. Alternatively, we may choose to forgive and not tell the person who has offended us, and this is fine, too.
Perhaps we could see forgiveness as a boundary, something which restricts negative energy from actively poisoning our personal space. When we forgive, we’re proactively saying, ‘I release myself as well as my emotions from your grip. I’ll not hate you. I will not let that negative energy affect my life.’
First and foremost, remember that forgiveness is for you – not for the person you need to forgive – something that frees you from the crippling emotional weight of the past and its damages. In forgiving you undoubtedly can find the internal harmony that you deserve.
The process of forgiving, of shifting from anxiety and harm to a much more tranquil, balanced internal state, requires us to consider what exactly took place. The person or people who have harmed us had a reason for what they did, regardless of whether they or we recognize those reasons. Most likely they too, in their very own way, happen to be the victim of others, hurt or damaged by their very own particular past. While there may be missing parts and pieces in the puzzle, it is we, and not they, who decide the way we choose to respond to what has taken place.
Through this process we may reach a more profound understanding: though we’ve been treated unfairly or even unkindly, it is now in the past. And it is there that it needs to remain if we are to move forward with our lives in a more balanced, and much freer manner.
Arriving at the place where forgiveness is possible cannot be accomplished overnight. It can take time to process the pain. Therapy, support groups, or self-help tools can all be profoundly valuable. It’s perfectly acceptable to fully realize the true impact of what the person or people did. Anything less is not honoring ourselves. It’s healthy to get all of it out in the open.
Taking the high road is always the mature, benevolent, and wise thing to do. Yet, proactively deciding to forgive is not the same as ignoring the truth. To forgive does not necessarily mean that we forget. The goal of forgiveness is to release yourself from the anger, the harm, and the hate, not to deny what happened.
If you are hurting and filled with anger, perhaps forgiveness really is the key that can unlock those shackles that are keeping you in pain. Finding your own way to forgive may not be straightforward, but it is one of the most liberating things you can possibly do. Maybe now is the moment to move on from the past and forgive. Your life awaits you and there is no real need to delay. Begin your journey of forgiveness right now and move ahead a wiser, more balanced person.
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