T his may seem one of the most difficult things you would be doing, but when you have been hurt by someone, you can hold onto that hatred and resentment, or here is something that you can do…move on from it. Embrace forgiveness and allow it to be the most important thing for you. Life is too short and has far too many negative aspects to it. If we also hold onto every single rough patch we come across, we will make things more difficult for us.
By Nazia Aleem
Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project or you’ve had a traumatic experience, such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to you. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance. But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. When someone wrongs you somehow, you might feel certain you’ll never be able to get over it. Even after your immediate anger passes, you might continue to dwell on the betrayal instead of letting it fade into memory. It’s pretty common to feel this way. But not being able to forgive can harm you most. Forgiveness might seem challenging, in part because it’s often misunderstood. You might accept that what happened is now in the past, recognize that people make mistakes, and begin cultivating compassion instead. Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you’re a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving. The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help free you from the control of the person who harmed you. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you in the first place.
Am I ready?
If you don’t feel like you can extend forgiveness immediately, that’s OK. It can take some time to reach that place. When it comes to forgiveness, authenticity is essential. Forced forgiveness doesn’t really benefit anyone since you’re still holding on to pain and anger. Forcing yourself to do anything inauthentic can create a misalignment with your inner truth. Asking yourself this question can help you determine if you’re ready to forgive.
Who am I doing this for?
You set forgiveness in motion. It’s mainly for you. Other people involved in the situation, even loved ones who know the circumstances, might encourage you to forgive. Ultimately, you’re the one who needs to make that decision. You aren’t truly forgiving when you do so grudgingly or because others say you should. This type of forgiveness doesn’t honor your needs and may not resolve your frustration and pain.
Do I have perspective?
It’s both normal and healthy to need to process and address difficult emotions after experiencing injustice or betrayal. Sitting with those feelings can be pretty painful, especially in the beginning. Some distance and reflection can help you explore the situation through an objective lens. Recognizing that people in pain often cause pain themselves can help you cultivate compassion without condoning or minimizing their actions. It’s also worth considering whether you’re still hurting because of the actual event, or because your memories of the betrayal are trapping you in a cycle of distress.If your pain mostly stems from the latter, choosing to forgive can help you let those memories go.
Am I willing to take the necessary action to forgive?
Forgiveness takes some work on your part. You can’t just say “I forgive you” and be done with it — at least, not if you want your forgiveness to have meaning. This will usually involve developing some understanding of the other person and their circumstances. You can’t truly forgive without empathy and compassion.