Forgiveness: Finding Peace for Yourself
Forgiveness: one of the more difficult undertakings in life, yet probably my favorite “F” word next to the word “Friday.”
Having the compassion and understanding to forgive someone who has hurt you takes a lot of strength. Quite often, we don’t receive the acknowledgement and empathy for a hurtful experience that we desperately need, or even an apology at all. Finding the ability to forgive someone who hasn’t apologized poses an even more difficult task.
Other times, in the end, the apology just isn’t good enough or “too little too late” as they say. In turn, we may continue to feel like the person isn’t deserving of our forgiveness. As a result, we continue to hold onto bad feelings and resentment, and forgiveness eludes us.
Over time, confining yourself to the walls of a grudge will only hurt you. Playing the role of the victim may feel empowering to some degree, however, negative energy is draining. Resentment and hatred are exhausting to keep up with and leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and empty. You’re also more susceptible to depression, high blood pressure, and a poor immune system as a result of this anxiety from resentment. Put a 5-minute timer on the clock and think about a person that has wronged you: I guarantee you’ll feel both mentally depleted and physically fatigued thinking about a person you hate rather than about a person you love.
So, how do we forgive? Firstly, you must be willing to forgive with no exceptions. When you forgive, you set yourself free from the constraints of unhappiness, anger, and hurt. In order to let go of past wrongs, you must forgive wholeheartedly and without exclusion.
We forgive through empathy, love, acceptance, and understanding. We let go of all of the negative feelings we have about that particular person. We stop thinking about it and move on. We let time pass and lessen the severity of the wrong. Over time, the wound begins to heal.
The end goal does not have to be repairing a broken relationship. In my opinion, forgiving someone is more beneficial to the relationship you have with yourself than the relationship you have with the other person. Are you so wrapped up in and consumed with resentment and hostility that you’re forgetting to live in the present? Do you feel empty inside? Do you want to stop feeling bitter, anxious, and tense? If so, forgive for yourself.
By embracing forgiveness, you also embrace and welcome peace, healing, gratitude, and joy into your life. One day, you’ll just wake up and be ready to give in and forgive. Go ahead, let go. Surrender. Forgiveness doesn’t appear to be impossible if you change your perception and approach.
I held onto resentment and bitterness for years, and when I forgave the person that wronged me, my whole world changed. I felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. My relationship with her deepened, and quite frankly, my relationship with myself deepened as well.
But what if you need that apology you never received? Sometimes you just need closure in order to forgive someone. So, what do you do if you know that you won’t be receiving an apology?
Quite honestly, you find the closure that you need within yourself. If you don’t have the opportunity to make it right with that other person, you do have the ability to make it right with yourself. And guess what, it’s been there the entire time. Only you can let go of past hurts and the burdens of resentment and negativity that hold you down. So when you find yourself wanting to forgive someone, try doing this: close your eyes and imagine confronting the person who wronged you. Calmly speak to them and tell them how you feel. Don’t hold back, but speak to them peacefully. Now, put yourself in their shoes and think of how they would respond to you. View the situation from their perspective and go back and forth with them until you accept and understand their point of view and resolve the conflict.
When you think about the person who wronged you, make a conscious effort to stop yourself before you get heated and start ruminating. Practice this little inner dialogue and visualization every time you think negatively about a person who has wronged you.
This is a simple, yet forceful exercise that will change your life. One day, you’re going to wake up and only feel contentment. You’ll be satisfied and stop searching for the closure you thought you needed.
The hardest person I have had to forgive was in fact myself. It first took learning how to accept myself for who I am to ultimately forgive myself. I grew up with a self-imposed perfectionist mentality where I quite often beat myself up over the smallest of things. Nobody is perfect, and to this day, I have to consciously be aware of how I’m treating myself—we all do.
Through the forgiveness process, not only did I learn how to accept myself more, I learned how to better accept and understand others. I let go of past hurt, resentment, and anger, and in doing so I was able to find contentment and happiness. Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it best, “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
By Marisa Barnard