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Forgiveness and Letting Go
The Difficulty of Forgiveness
Why is forgiveness and letting go so difficult? Almost everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of other people; we've been treated badly, our trust was broken and we felt heartbreak.
Some examples are: a mate that cheats, a parent that criticizes the way we are raising our children or a friend that tells your secrets behind your back to someone else.
These wounds will often leave you feeling angry, bitter or probably even vengeful. Even wanting to forgive the other person is not always easy. Sometimes we are so caught up in pain or humiliation we cannot move beyond those feeling for a period of time, as we just don't know how to let go.
The definition of forgiveness according to Merriam Webster dictionary:
Definition: "to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone) : to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong) : to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)"
Mending the Heart
Decision is a Choice
Certainly forgetting and forgiving are two different things. If we are really hurt we will probably never completely forget, although with time we may be able to look back at the situation without as much pain.
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. The best reason to make that choice is to help you, not for the other person necessarily. The decision to forgive is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
When you do make a decision to forgive, you may have more understanding, empathy or compassion for the one who hurt you. Most importantly you will be at peace and much less stressed.
Catherine Piderman, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic describes forgiveness as” a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.” When you forgive you are able to focus more on the positive aspects of your life. It may even lead to a better understanding or empathy toward the person that hurt you.
It certainly doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong either. You can decide to forgive the person without excusing the act, which should bring you a kind of peace and help you move on in your life.
Erma Louise Bombeck-a beloved lady
“People are always asking couples whose marriage has endured at least a quarter of a century for their secret for success. Actually, it is no secret at all. I am a forgiving woman. Long ago, I forgave my husband for not being Paul Newman."
How to Let Go
The question is how to forgive?
First, you have to commit to letting go. This step may take time but when you commit to change is because you recognize the pain is hurting you.
Evaluate the pros and cons of the situation:
- Is the pain hurting your relationships with the other person?
- Does it affect you at work or with your family?
- Does it make you unhappy?
Think of the benefits of forgiveness, which occur when you're no longer in pain, including more happiness, and your relationships in general will improve.
Know this is your choice, and that you can't control the actions of anybody else. You can choose to stop reliving the hurt. The powers is yours, you just need to learn how to use it.
Try to empathize and put yourself in the other person's shoes. Try to understand why the person did what they did, making the assumption they are not a bad person but they just made a mistake or used poor judgment.
You can ask yourself what could have happened to this person in the past to make them act that way. You are not saying what they did is right, but you are trying to understand.
Be sure to take a look at yourself to see if you had any responsibility for the event. Was there something you could've done to prevent it? Sometimes you have to learn how to forgive yourself.
Move your thoughts into the present and understand that the past can't be changed but your attitude can. Look at what brings you joy right now and when your mind takes you back to that event you should gently bring yourself back to your present circumstances.
Forgiveness and the Freedom of Letting go
Soar with the Eagles Instead of Walking with the Turkeys!
Benefits of Forgiveness
It usually helps to do meditation and/or yoga to keep a positive attitude and a healthier body. Focus on your breathing, imagining each breath that goes out is the pain you have been living with as it is released from your body and mind. Welcome the peace that enters your life.
Forgiveness will bring you peace that would help you enjoy the rest of your life. When you let go of hurts and grudges and you have room for compassion and kindness.
The benefits of forgiveness will lead to:
- Healthier relationships.
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.
- Less stress and hostility.
- A healthier body, such as lower blood pressure, less headaches, etc.
- Fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety or chronic pain.
- A lower risk of alcohol or substance abuse.
Alicia Keys Pray For Forgiveness
Obviously learning how to let go and forgive will make for a happier, healthier life. You are moving away from the victim role and into a place of more joy.
I heard an old saying years ago and I don't know who the author is but it's so true; “He who angers me controls me." I do not like the idea of being controlled at all, so this little saying has helped me numerous times.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.