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Anger and resentment keeps us stuck in the past replaying disheartening emotions, instead of living in the present moment.
In a world where being out for revenge seems to be more at hand, and appears to bring more gratification , they say it takes courage and strength to forgive. And I couldn’t agree more. “An eye for an eye” is a reaction to being hurt, physically or emotionally.
To withhold forgiveness keeps alive emotions of hurt, anger and blame which discolor your perception of life.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness means letting go of the pain and suffering of the past, understanding and being willing to forge ahead with far greater potential for inner freedom and peace.
Forgiveness is something we choose to do when we are ready to move on or when the love in our hearts speaks louder than dislike, and hurt.
It is the willingness to let go of any negativity you might be holding onto towards yourself or others that previously harmed you in anyway, physically or emotionally.
Besides the reward of letting go of a painful past, there are powerful health benefits that go hand-in-hand with the practice of forgiveness.
Forgiveness transforms anger and hurt into healing and peace. Forgiveness can help you overcome feelings of depression, anxiety, and rage, as well as personal and relational conflicts.
“Having grudges is like imprisoning yourself, to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”- Lewis B. Smedes
What forgiveness is not
Most of us hold at least some misconceptions about forgiveness. Here are some things that forgiving someone is not:
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you need to tell the person that he or she is forgiven, it’s for you not the other person.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean there is nothing further to work out in the relationship or that everything is okay now.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are pardoning or excusing the other person’s actions.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue to include the person in your life.
… and forgiveness isn’t something you do for the other person, it’s for yourself, your own mental health, your peace .
It’s about taking care of your own mental health and setting yourself free.
If your friend, family member or colleague did or said something that really hurt you, then they’re at fault. And forgiving them doesn’t change that fact.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.– Mahatma Gandhi
Why would anyone want to forgive someone who has wronged them in the past?
It is not about letting someone off the hook for a wrongdoing, or forgetting about the past, or forgetting about the pain. It certainly does not mean that you stick around for future maltreatment from the person. It is about setting yourself free so that you can move forward in your own life. You can forgive completely but still decide to keep a safe distance from that person, to protect yourself from a repeat of what happened or harm.
You can forgive someone who wronged you and still call the police and testify in court.
Forgiveness doesn’t require you to embrace or interact with the person you forgave. Avoid confusing the two.
Despite people’s perceptions that forgiveness means to forget, it’s really about setting yourself free. You will still remember what happened, but you’ll no longer be bound by it.
In the 2009 film Invictus, Nelson Mandela played by actor Morgan Freeman addresses the African National Congress in a show of defiance, “Forgiveness starts here…Forgiveness liberates the soul… It removes fear, that is why it is such a powerful weapon…The past is the past, we look to the future.”
Importance of forgiveness
No one can say that they’ve not experienced some emotional pain in the past.
It hurts. I understand that.
But what you decide to do with all that heartache is more important than the hurt itself. Would you rather get back at the person and make them hurt as you did? Or would you rather let it go and forgive?
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”Unknown
Most people find that forgiving is not as easy as it sounds. It’s much easier to continue blaming the wrongdoer and hold grudges against them for as long as we can.
The problem is, holding onto the past causes you to relive the pain over and over again. As a result, you get stuck in this angry, accusatory state that hinders you from progressing and succeeding in other aspects of your life.
Yes, forgiving someone is very difficult. On the plus side, it will benefit you so much more than the individual who hurt you. So apart from being the reasonable thing to do, forgiving is great for your soul and overall well-being.
Reasons why it’s important.
It Eliminates Toxic Anger
It’s normal to get upset. However, it can get to a point where this anger becomes toxic. In other words, it starts affecting other parts of your life.
For instance, you might begin lashing out at your kids or family members, yet they’re not the cause of your hurt.
It takes more muscle to frown than to smile. Staying angry sucks up a great deal of your energy and time.
The fact that you’re thinking about the person who offended you means that he or she has control over your thoughts and feelings. W e should really not give a person the power and key to what happens inside of you.
When you forgive, you regain this power to be in control. To make things easier, try redirecting your focus to other pleasant activities like a hobby or your work.
It Provides Perspective
There is nothing wrong with reacting when you feel wronged. Instead of making a big deal out of it, choose to forgive and move on.
Forgiveness helps to clear your mind; hence, allowing you to assess the situation from a different perspective.
It Makes You Compassionate
When someone so close does such a hurtful thing, it can be hard to view the situation from any other angle other than your own.
Most often than not, people don’t hurt you intentionally. They might be having deep-seated problems that pushed them to that point. But, this doesn’t mean it was okay.
When you forgive someone, you become less selfish and feel sorry for the individual who wronged you.
Even though the action or words that hurt you will dwell within you forever, the act of letting go reduces the grip that the wounding event has on you. This way, you’ll be able to focus on the more positive aspects of your life.
According to research, forgiveness is associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as overall stress relief. It is also associated with improving physical symptoms, reducing fatigue in some patient populations, and improving sleep quality. Forgiveness has been shown to diminish the experience of stress and inner conflict while simultaneously restoring positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
There’s a close link between negative emotions and illness
Toxic and destructive emotions have the potential to activate certain diseases if we don’t attend to our emotional wellbeing.
It is difficult to forgive a perpetrator for wrongdoing. If you consider it from a greater perspective, forgiveness is associated with your emotional welfare, not merely granting the other person pardon.
“Regardless of how illogical it may seem at times, it is through unconditional forgiveness that we surrender the past to the past and enter the present, freeing ourselves to stand in the infinite Light that knows how to heal our deepest and most painful wounds,” states author Dennis Merritt Jones.
Irrespective of the circumstances, you respond to the past with compassion, not hold on to the experiences.
Let go of that which stands in your way of peace, happiness and self-love because forgiveness is the bridge that leads you there.
Forgiveness takes immense courage. You need to make yourself vulnerable when all you want to do is safeguard yourself. You fear being hurt again and again. You lose control when you put yourself out there.
Dennis Merritt Jones says in his book Your Redefining Moments: “Forgiveness is the practice that opens the window and exposes our wounds to the Light, and it is a practice that, as long as we live in a human skin, we’ll have a need to employ throughout our lives.”
Healing and forgiveness are correspondent. Forgive yourself, forgive others, forgive life itself and move forward with a newfound sense of completion and wholeness.
By exposing your wounds to the Light not only do you heal your suffering, you invite Love to transform your anguish.
“When you feel heartbroken and disappointed because things don’t seem to make sense, put your hands up and talk to the Almighty. You don’t need words if the hurt is too much. Speak silently from your heart. He made it. He will surely mend it.” Mufti Ismail Menk..