Forgiveness is a choice, it is not an emotion. You are not going to feel like it, but you can do it. Apparently, nobody is born with a lot of talent for forgiving.
If you do not forgive those who have hurt you, you will have a very hard time trusting other people, and that will adversely affect every other important relationship in your life.
When you do forgive, you are taking away the emotional power the person or events have on you. It is an act of self kindness; it releases you from your pain, anguish and negativity.
We would like our angry and hurt emotions to go away by themselves, but they don’t. Learning to forgive, therefore, gives us peace of mind. It has nothing to do with the other person, as odd as that seems. It is about your willingness to let go of your resentment and not hang on to your grievances.
If possible, don’t forgive someone until you can let them know how much pain the whole experience has caused you. Forgiving someone too quickly only covers up your hurt and bitterness, and is therefore really pseudo-forgiveness. It isn’t wise to do, because it keeps you stuck in your grievances, rather than freeing you from
the pain. Permit your hurt and anger out first, and then forgive. Otherwise your gesture will be inauthentic and empty.
“The last thing people give up is their suffering.” – Goethe
If you are interested in learning how to forgive, I have some recommendations:
- List everyone you have not forgiven, and what you have not forgiven them for. Who are you still angry at, and who do you still have resentment toward?
- Choose one person that you would like to make peace with and forgive.
- How does it serve you to continue holding on to your grievance toward him or her? What are you getting from holding on to your anger and hurt?
- What would need to happen in order for you to feel better about that person? What would you need to say? What would you wish to hear?
- What emotions emerge when you think of forgiving him or her?
- What are you willing to forgive?
- Are you in anyway wiser, more expanded or more grown because of the emotional wounding you have suffered from this person? How?
- Did you in any way set yourself up for getting hurt or betrayed? How?
- Do you need to be forgiven by anyone else? Who, and what for? Is there a way you could ask for that forgiveness or let the other person know that you would like to apologize?
- Is there anything that you would like to forgive yourself for? What? What do you need to say or do in order to be willing to forgive you? What stops you from doing this?
- What issues or fears are getting triggered by asking yourself these questions?
The greatest act of healing is the act of forgiveness. It can also be the most difficult. Whether the person you feel wronged by is living or dead, you can permit yourself to let go and be at peace with him or her. That is the way you will begin to heal your pain.
“Gentleness is stronger than severity. Water is stronger than rock. Love is stronger than force.” – from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse