I do not forgive easily. (An understatement!) Fortunately my path crossed with a very wise woman who had this to share.
*Forgiveness is about your healing (rather than giving absolution to the transgressor).
*Forgiveness is about releasing your resistance to healing (and the transgressor’s hold on you).
*Forgiveness is about becoming indifferent — diffusing the emotional charge — to an incident, rather than forgetting it.
*Forgiveness requires you face the incident head on. (Ignoring or pretending the incident didn’t happen is disrespectful of your history.)
Healing (in this instance forgiving) becomes imperative when the incident drags on (taking on a life of its own) through your repeated retelling. With each retelling you relieve the incident, flooding yourself with all the negatively it evoked.
Ask yourself, “Is this incident taking on a life of its own long after it actually happened?” If yes, you have some healing to tend to.
By insisting, “I’m never going to forgive!” (an emotionally charged negative statement), you lock yourself in an untenable position. You are already in a bad place (smarting from the original incident) and you continue adding negativity with each trip down memory lane. (There is also collateral damage brought about by the “sharing” with others which then bums them out.)
It’s the power of those negative feelings and emotions you release each time you relive and revisit the incident that harm you. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the transgressor. It has everything to do with you.
To truly forgive you must first acknowledge the wrong. (Acknowledging is different from condoning. Acknowledging means admitting something happened. Condoning means you’re okay with what happened.) Second, you must truly change your attitude toward the incident — on an emotional level. So, even though you say you forgive, if you secretly (or subconsciously) hold onto that wrong, you have not forgiven (and the instigator still has a hold on you).
By forgiving you get to stop stewing over, holding grudges, and/or focusing on that which riled you, whether the incident happened five minutes ago or fifty years ago. By refusing to let go, any clinging remnants of unforgiveness tether you to the instigator, hurting you time and time again.
Forgiving requires changing your mind-set from “I don’t want to forgive this person because he/she harmed me in this way and doesn’t deserve my forgiveness” to “I want the joyous freedom of having left behind all the anger, hostility, grudges, etc., I was holding (and rekindling) each time I thought about how this person wronged me.”
Once you’ve made the mental switch, spend time reveling in how freeing and joyful it feels to be in the light and away from the heavy darkness which shrouded your soul. Finally, step aside. You’ve done your part. You’ve set things in motion. Now let the Universe heal you.
By permitting yourself to heal you gain, and the perpetrator loses. You have broken the cycle of negativity and horror the perp inflicted on you. The incident happened. You know it happened. However, the incident no longer has any emotional hold on you. You’re free.
“I don’t know,” you say, “what he/she did was pretty bad.”
Forgiving puts you in an emotionally good place. A place where you can heal, grow strong, regain your strength. (By hanging onto your self-righteous indignation you remain stuck in Woe-is-me-I-was-so-wronged victim mode, which keeps you trapped in a time warp while the perp moves on (probably forgetting you).)
If necessary, forgive in baby steps. In increments. Every nudge helps. Remember, rather than viewing forgiveness as condoning another’s hurtful behavior, forgiveness is about you and your healing. And you are definitely worth the effort!
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