I’ve always had mixed feelings on the topic of forgiveness. If you forgive someone, does that mean you somehow say its okay to do what they did? But after much contemplation, I must say, that I believe forgiveness is necessary to move on. I recognize that one cannot just say, “I forgive you” and everything goes back to normal, or that forgiveness is an easy task, by any means. But I will say, that when we live in anger and resentment at someone, for some transgression, the person rarely knows we are living this way and rarely do they suffer, like we might envision. Rather, we are the ones suffering. We are the ones holding onto that anger and resentment with a heavy heart, tense muscles, and hyper-vigilance.
Who loses then? The person who did us wrong? Or us? So much of the time the person who wronged us does not even recognize this. Or if they do, it is in the quiet of their mind, expressed to no one. Is it really about them learning a lesson? Or us keeping the anger as an excuse to stay stuck? As a reason for why things can’t work out or why things will never improve.
If you’re holding onto something, some event that occurred a moment in time or even something that occurred over many many years, you are allowing it to continue to hurt you. Maybe you can just release it to the wind, or maybe you have to release it little by little each day, but either way, work on letting it go. This does not mean living in denial, not acknowledging that it happened or as I originally feared, that you are somehow condoning the behavior. Rather, you are not going to let the anger live inside you anymore, for you are giving it power by this alone.
Instead, forgive them. Not for them, but for you. Decide to learn what was necessary from the experience- acknowledge the anger, hurt, resentment, etc. and move on. Be grateful for the experience, whatever it was, or at the very least be grateful for your ability to have lived through such an experience and have come out alive. Take what you need from it, forgive, and if possible, imagine empathy for that person. You will be better for it.
And while we’re on the topic… You have to forgive yourself too. We all make mistakes. Sometimes really big, life changing ones. If you’ve been skimming up to this point, HEAR THIS NOW: you will not move on until you can forgive yourself. If there is something that you are continually coming back to, blaming yourself for, or believing that you are unworthy because of, take what you needed to learn from the experience and let the rest go. You are not your past behaviors and you are worthy of forgiveness.
Acknowledge what you did (or didn’t do) what you have control over now and if there is anything left to be done. If there is nothing left to be done, then it is over. Tell yourself out loud, “It is already done. There is nothing left for me to do with this.” Take a deep breath into any part of you that continues to feel the guilt, then follow this with a long, hard exhale and imagine releasing any guilt or shame that you have been holding onto. Do this as often as necessary.
Forgiveness isn’t an easy topic. Some might say, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.” Fair. But don’t sit around holding grudges then either. This isn’t healthy for your body or mind. Think of forgiving as a form of cleansing the soul. Making room for new, wondrous things to enter your life.
As always, if you would like some one on one coaching around something related to this or moving through barriers that have kept you stuck, I’d love to talk more with you. Please see my contact page for information on setting up a free 30 minute consultation call with me.