Issue 8 of The Art of Self Care
Definition of Forgiveness:
“Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell. Forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it changes the present. Forgiveness means that even though you are wounded, you choose to hurt and suffer less. Forgiveness means you become a part of a solution. Forgiveness is the understanding that hurt is a normal part of life. Forgiveness is for you and no one else. You can forgive and rejoin a relationship or forgive and never speak to the person again.”
(from Fred Luskin, 2003 Stanford University Forgiveness Project)
Let me be clear that forgiveness does NOT mean condoning an act or behavior. It means you are willing to let go of the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the event.
In going through life, we all experience hurts, disappointments, betrayals, and pain; all to varying degrees. The importance of forgiveness is that you get to live free of resentment, guilt, anger, and suffering that has been caused by these events from your past.
Forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. While many emotions come up when we forgive, we must first decide that it is in our best interests to do so.
Consequences of NOT forgiving:
1. Carrying anger and resentment.
2. Being connected to the very person or event that has caused you so much pain.
3. Not forgiving can lead to hypertension, headaches, gastric distress, physical pain and ailments.
Results of Forgiving:
1. Feeling lighter and freer
2. Finding it easier to accept other people’s faults as well as your own.
3. Improved health and feelings of well-being
Now it’s Your Turn:
5 Initial Steps to practicing forgiveness:
Step 1: Practice letting go of judgments of right vs. wrong: Each event is a learning opportunity.
Step 2: Practice letting go of being a victim. Nothing anyone does is personal.
Step 3: Practice letting go of making assumptions: We have no control over how others “should” behave, or what a situation “should” have been.
Step 4: Practice taking responsibility for whatever your role was in an event (even if that role was being a victim and helpless…).
Step 5: Acknowledge what you have learned about yourself, others or events that can enhance and empower your life going forward.
Remember: Forgiveness is about letting go of all hope for a better past and it is a gift you give yourself… It is NOT about or for anyone else.