The Art of Practicing Forgiveness
What is forgiveness and what does it mean to forgive others? What happens when we feel we can’t forgive or have the need to hang on to bitterness, resentment, hatred or other negative energy draining vampire emotions as I call them? Why do we sometimes seem to have the most trouble forgiving others, especially those we love and care about? Here are my thoughts and reasons for the above questions many of us ask ourselves when in this place.
First of all, forgiveness is something that is conscious and a deliberate decision to release feelings we have such as resentment, bitterness, hurt, anger, and vengeance toward a person or a group of people who have harmed you. Now, whether or not they deserve your forgiveness is another matter. Now, I believe it is also important in understanding what forgiveness is not; however when you do forgive, it doesn’t mean glossing over or denying the seriousness of the matter, nor does it mean forgetting it, condoning it, or excusing offenses. When you DO forgive, it not only releases you to feel freer, but it can certainly help to repair a damaged friendship or relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with the person that harmed you or release them from legal accountability if that applies, it serves as a dual purpose not only for our own benefit, but we can feel good about knowing we are doing the right thing for others too vs shaming them and other harmful things that only drives the stake in the ground deeper, makes you feel worse, doesn’t fix anything, and can potentially ruin your reputation, credibility, & trust, not to mention the example you are be setting for your kids, etc. Forgiveness is the power of strength, not weakness.
So even though it may seem like the harder route, it will be the route that is worth it for not just yourself, but for many others, including the person/group that wronged you (and maybe they didn’t do it intentionally, and if so, its probably out of hurt, insecurity, or an natural defense mechanism for protection that was a learned behavior). Many people put up barriers and defense mechanisms as a way to protect themselves and that's all they have ever known to do. It can even just work like a reflex action... they may have no awareness of that's what they are doing.
Forgiveness instead brings you peace, the release of anger, resentment, and from corrosive anger which is such a freeing feeling. Who wants to walk around all the time in anger or in some cases rage?! Releasing this and forgiving allows you the opportunity to let go of deeply held negative feelings which can lead to illness and disease when we hold in anger and let it fester away. In addition to that the other person (s) usually have no idea of all this so we aren’t hurting them if that is the goal, but we are actually hurting ourselves in more ways than one, even the chemical release of cortisol in the body takes place which only leads us to more illness, negative emotions, etc! So we actually have more to lose in the long run if we choose and decide to not forgive. Studies have shown that depression can easily set in when forgiveness is not put into action. Forgiveness can end suffering, guilt and shame and allow healing to occur. This is key in setting us free, giving us more strength, connection, peace, and increased integrity, confidence and self worth. I see it as a positive way of practicing humility which will go far in your life if you have humility and is something others easily pick up in you.....a very appealing and magnetic trait to have!
The mental, emotional and physical benefits of forgiveness can help us to lead a healthier and longer and more meaningful lives. Forgiveness is also a Great tool to practice with conflict resolution! If you want to move forward in your life vs remaining in a stuck state, then practice the art of forgiveness which allows us to feel happier, kinder, healthier, and more connected to others in a positive way. When we are no longer obsessed on getting revenge on someone or avoiding them, this allows us to put the focus on getting on with our lives.
Believing in You,
“To err is human, to forgive, divine”. ~Alexander Pope