* Learning to Forgive

forgiveness

Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. It’s natural to feel angry, however, holding on to the grievance and “punishing” the other person closes your heart and contracts your body and spirit. In this state of contraction you lose touch with the goodness within you. Research also shows that revenge increases stress and impairs health and immunity.
When we are unable to forgive we create dis-ease and illness. 

Forgiveness is giving up the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. We let go of judging the person who caused the hurt. Instead of revenge and resentment we choose understanding and kindness. In forgiveness, we don’t forget that the offense occurred nor do we excuse it. Forgiveness is a choice and act of will to free ourselves.

 “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese

“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha
letting go of the pastHere are 4 steps that have worked for me in working through forgiving myself or an other:

1. Acknowledge what happened and let yourself feel the anger and the hurt. We must feel anger before we can begin to forgive. You can’t rush forgiveness.  If something has happened some time ago, your distress is coming from the thoughts within you now, not from what offended or hurt you in the past.
It is your current thinking that is causing more and more struggle. You have the power to change your thoughts.

2. Make a decision to forgive or not. Do I want to hold on to resentment or let it go? Do I really want to feel like this? We are under no obligation or pressure to forgive. However, holding a grudge becomes a debilitating drain on our health and can poison our outlook on life. We become a prisoner to it.
When we truly forgive, we are doing it for our own sake, not the other person’s. It is the most important step in healing ourselves from the hurt of the past.
Forgiving brings us the gift of peace.

3. Seek to understand. Can I see the other person’s perspective or point of view? You don’t need to accept or agree with them at all. Remember that we all want to be happy. To be loved and accepted. How we go about it is based on our own life experiences and upbringing. A bully has almost always been bullied themselves.
People who are causing us pain are usually in pain. This is the human condition.

4. Shift your own perspective. What do I want this pain to turn into? Instead of going over in your mind why something happened, or how horrible the actions were, visualize what your life will be like after the pain is gone.
Start seeking ways to get what you want. Look for love, beauty and kindness around you. Its there!

let it goForgiving and letting go is an act of will and an act of courage.

By letting go of the anger and resentment within you and replacing it with kindness, you become free. Free to be you – and no longer a victim defined by an other’s actions.

Namaste

46 responses to “* Learning to Forgive

  1. A valuable lesson. Someone close to me once felt he had been cheated and held a grudge against the “offenders” for decades. In the process he destroyed relationships and tore apart his family. So sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post Val. I do think that sometimes forgiveness is for the other person too, depending on the offense and who the other person is. I have been forgiven and I believe it was for my sake as well as theirs, and I have forgiven in the same way. Sometimes forgiveness leads to reconciliation, as a matter of fact that has often been the case in my life. ❤
    Diana xo

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    • Thank you Paul! We should at least get taught this lesson early on…. although it wash;’t something I lean red within my family. Holding grudges was a family sport … and sorrowful to be a part of!

      Like

      • Me too . . . but often when I see their POV (where they’re coming from), I don’t get mad in the first place so there is nothing to forgive.

        Even if I can’t grasp the motivation behind their actions, I may see them as their own worst enemy . . . then I feel bad for them rather than mad at them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post, Val. I’ve found that acting fairly promptly in relation to whole forgiveness issue is important as it can prevent molehills becoming mountains of terrible tangles from which it can be very difficult to find resolution.
    So often, too, people don’t necrssarily even know they have offended as views of the world are so diverse.

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  4. Forgive me for bringing in two different slants here.

    I do not believe that ‘letting go of anger and resentment’ as you describe in your second last line is the same thing as forgiveness. Forgiveness is release from blame and / or release from debt and that is a different thing altogether because it involves another person. Letting go of bad feelings involves just us.

    We are taught that we must forgive in order to move on and yet the action of supposedly forgiving makes us focus on a supposed wrong-deed, and that someone was supposedly to blame and therefore needs forgiving. It also makes us focus on the hurt and anger and the supposed wrongness. I believe that instead we need to focus on what is missing from our lives that is causing the pain and replace that with something positive. So if we are missing love or feeling unlovable (because of infidelity, for example) then we focus on being kind and being more loving to those who do care for us. If we are missing confidence (because of abandonment) then we build on our self-esteem. If we are missing peace (maybe because of the guilt at violating our own values) then we work at living by our true values.
    I know that is what you said in your second last line in giving up anger, resentment etc and your point 4, but that is not forgiveness. People try and say it is forgiveness in order to feel they have forgiven when true forgiveness is so difficult to achieve.

    Another negative thing about forgiveness, is that it differs for a single past event or a past action by someone else that cannot be undone, compared to things that are perhaps happening constantly day in and day out because of someone’s behaviour. While you can never change someone’s behaviour, only your own, if you constantly ‘forgive’ bad behaviour then it can set you up for abuse.

    So I am on the same page as you (point 4 and giving up bad feelings) … but in regards to forgiveness, I am not so sure can always be achieved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your perspective here … And the complexity that lies beneath the seemingly simple act of forgiveness.
      I could have been more clear by saying letting go of anger and resentment … towards the other.
      Its so fascinating how our beliefs, filters and experiences show up when we are at our most vulnerable. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful teachings Val… It took a long while to learn to forgive certain things in my life.. the main one being to forgive myself..

    I came across a wonderful little mantra..
    I’m sorry
    I forgive you
    I love you
    Thank you
    and when thoughts pop up.. I used to remind myself.. that all things in life have purpose as we grow through our experiences..

    Love You! for sharing all you do… THANK YOU!.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used much time to find my way out and learn to forgive, at least forgive myself for letting others hurt me and mine so badly. Your advices to go through are really good Val. We do really become free, when we learn to forgive and that this doesn’t mean forget. We learn by our experiences, which also made us, as we are today.

    Liked by 1 person

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