Forgiveness is tricky because we hear we’re “supposed to forgive”. On the other hand, we hear “I have a right to how I feel.” This post will not be about telling you why you must forgive but rather what you lose out on if you don’t. Then you can decide for yourself if it is a gift worth giving.
When you think about the word “forgiveness,” do you get a little nauseated? Does your chest get a little tighter? Is your heart racing and your mind frustrated? This is because there is a level of pain and anguish you have experienced and because you can not get rid of it, you want to inflict it on someone else through unforgiveness, or at least you hope to.
If unforgiveness paid for the act done against you or to you, there would be relief. There is no pleasure or peace in the hatred or bitterness that unforgiveness breeds. For example, there is someone who popped into your mind as you are reading this blog.
Pause and notice.
Is your breathing becoming labored? Do you feel a rise within yourself? This is the plight of Unforgiveness. It creates an illusion that holding someone else captive in your heart and mind will make you feel better when, in reality, you are the only one in bondage.
Now let’s take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. Hone into yourself, your current moment. Take a slow and gentle inhale through your nose. Now, exhale through your mouth until you can do no further.
Now let the last breath cycle be the deepest. Open your eyes.
Let’s discuss some truths and some lies surrounding forgiveness.
LIE: Forgiveness is about the other person.
Truthfully, the focal point of forgiveness is YOU. Restoring your peace. Freeing your mind. Releasing your heart from the poison that is pain, resentment, and bitterness.
LIE: Forgiveness means reconciliation.
This is the biggest lie. Forgiveness can mean enforcing stricter boundaries. Forgiveness can be releasing them of the debt in your heart, while acknowledging this is not a safe nor healthy person for me; therefore, I will limit their access to me.
TRUTH: Forgiveness is not excusing, condoning, or justifying their actions.
TRUTH: As you forgive others, it gets easier to forgive yourself. Self-compassion IS self-love.
TRUTH: Forgiveness may not solely remove the pain or hurt, but it frees you to go on a healing journey.
TRUTH: Forgiveness gives you the closure you may never receive elsewhere.
Practical Steps to Forgiveness
The first thing to know about forgiveness is that it can be a learned habit. It requires practice and often takes work. It is, however a choice to welcome an emotionally and physically healthier lifestyle. With this in mind, let’s jump into the steps to forgive:
- Approach forgiveness with intentionality and Acknowledge the effects. Recognize what happened and how you felt. Do not breeze past it; otherwise, you are robbing yourself of deep-rooted healing. What was the event? What were the feelings associated with the occurrence? If this happened in the past, how have the effects and accompanying feelings impacted you? It’s necessary to fully process.
- Extend empathy. Why did these events occur? What led up to this event? Again, this is not to excuse the behavior but to lend understanding. We can relinquish our “right” to retain offense when we seek to identify understanding.
- Jump! Do it. Forgive. Release all the hurt and all the negative feelings associated with the event and the person. Remember, this is not for them. This isn’t even for the sake of the relationship. This is about YOU and gifting yourself freedom. You are choosing not to wait for the “right circumstance” or “right apology” to free yourself.
- Commit to forgiveness. You might find yourself in moments where you recall what happened and the feelings associated with the memory; the person might have even crossed your path. Still, remember that the price of holding onto unforgiveness is anguish, emotional instability, and poor health outcomes.
- Reflect on the freedom of forgiveness. You breathe lighter with forgiveness. Remember that gift I talked about at the beginning of this post? Well forgiveness is posturing yourself to give yourself a well-needed gift: peace.
I hope this post has provided you with a lot of wisdom for your journey of forgiveness. However, these steps may be intimidating to approach on your own. If you need help processing your emotions surrounding a hurtful event or interaction in your life, call to book a session with me at 470-854-2944 or schedule an appointment today!