By Barbara @ Follow Your Own Rhythm
While forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools for healing, it’s not practiced often enough.
It’s so much more natural to blame, hate, and resent than to forgive those who have hurt us.
Forgiveness is by no means an easy task, especially when a person caused us deep pain, scarred us in some way, or continues to be hurtful in their actions.
However, whether or not you want to hear this, forgiveness is a KEY STEP in healing from the past and freeing yourself from negative emotions.
Before we get into WHY it’s so important to forgive and WHEN you should forgive, let’s talk about WHAT forgiveness is.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness basically means to release yourself emotionally from the past and no longer feel hatred, anger, and resentment toward the person or situation that hurt you.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person you’re forgiving, and everything to do with you. Let me say that again.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person you’re forgiving, and everything to do with you.
This is super important to recognize because I think one of the biggest things that keeps people from forgiving others is that they think it’s about the other person.
People think that when they forgive others, it means that they are agreeing with or approving of what the other person did or saying that “it’s okay.” This is completely untrue.
When you forgive another, it doesn’t mean that you forgot what they did or that you’re okay with it, it simply means that you’ve accepted what happened and have moved on.
Forgiveness means that you’ve let go of the past and all of the drama and emotional pain that comes with it, and decided to live more freely and compassionately in the present.
Some people might also have the misconception that once they forgive, they suddenly have to like or get along with the person, or have them in their life (such as with a family member). While of course this can be a part of the process, forgiveness has nothing to do with your relationship status with the person you forgave. You can forgive them and never see them again.
Why? Because the primary reason you ever forgive another is to free yourself of the burden that gets created when you hold a grudge. Second might be to rekindle a friendship, rebuilt a relationship or to help the other heal.
You have to remember that forgiveness is primarily about your own inner peace, freedom, and happiness. That is why we forgive.
Another point I want to make is that forgiving another doesn’t actually require that you tell the other person that you forgive them.
Forgiveness is an internal and independent journey and is a shift that happens in your heart, and it happens for YOU. You don’t forgive others to free them, you forgive others to free yourself.
While of course telling others that you forgive them might make it easier for them to heal and forgive themselves for what they did to you, it’s not necessary for your own healing.
This is an essential truth to know about forgiveness to make the process easier.
Why is forgiveness so important?
To prove how useless holding a grudge is, let’s do an exercise.
Think of a person who’s done something to you that you have a hard time forgiving or don’t want to forgive because they’ve hurt you so much.
Think of what they did to you and how it makes you feel.
Do you feel anger, sadness, hatred, bitterness or resentment? Do you blame them? Do you hold a grudge? Do you want revenge? Do you feel like a victim?
Do these feelings affect your everyday life? How? Do they affect the ones you love? How?
Do you have a hard time forgiving people and situations in general?
Does any of this anger, blame, sadness, resentment, bitterness or hatred do you any good? Does it make you feel better? Does it help you live a healthy and happy life?
Or does it keep you stuck, negative, and unpleasant to be around?
What is the reason that you have this anger towards this person? What do you think it will solve? Do you think your anger is a sort of revenge that will help “get back” at the person?
Is it effective? Can you know for sure that they are suffering because of your anger towards them? Or have they forgiven themselves and moved on?
At what point do you realize that holding a grudge is only hurting yourself and the people around you?
At what point do you forgive those who have hurt you so that YOU can be free of this emotional baggage that you carry with you everyday?
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The truth is, everything is energy, including you. When you cling to this pain and resentment, it takes up a lot of valuable space in your energy field, including your mind and heart, that could otherwise be occupied by love, compassion and positivity.
And these negative feelings carry over into your relationships, lifestyle, workplace, and the interactions you have on a daily basis. Even if you’re not always feeling angry or resentful, these feelings are still deep inside of you; eating away at you, affecting who you are as a person.
If you can’t forgive your past and the people who have hurt you, how can you forgive yourself for the mistakes that YOU have made?
See the thing is, not being able to forgive your past is not a separate compartment on its own. It’s not like “I can’t forgive my dad for abandoning me as a child, but I’m good in all other areas of my life.” No. If you can’t forgive your dad for abandoning you, it means that you probably have a hard time forgiving others as well, including yourself.
Holding a grudge and blaming people for how you feel is a tendency that you’ve developed that carries over into all areas of your life. And this tendency reflects your unwillingness to accept life as is and to let go of what doesn’t serve you.
Therefore, once you learn to forgive your past and others, you’ll learn to forgive yourself as well, and from then on you will start to forgive each moment and each experience and each person for not being the way you want it to be, and rather accept it for what it actually is.
Forgiveness will help you live fully in the present moment, accept and surrender to what is, let go of emotional pain, and live with more gentleness, understanding, peace and compassion.
So the obvious answer to the question:
“When should you forgive?”
You should always forgive no matter the situation, no matter the person, and no matter what they’ve done to you. Why? Because forgiveness is about healing YOURSELF, and does not at all reflect the level of “wrongness” of the person.
Meaning, if a man assaulted your child, hating and being angry at the man would only cause you more pain and suffering and would make no difference to the man, whereas forgiving the man would help you heal, but still make no difference to the man. It’s just this delusional belief we have that being angry at someone will punish them and hurt them more, and that forgiving them means that we are okay with what they did. It’s just a false belief.
When we respond to life with anger, we make bad decisions that could screw our lives up even more. However, when we respond to life from a place of acceptance, only then are we are able to make conscious choices that support our Highest good.
So for your own sake of happiness and peace, forgive those who have wronged you so that you can free yourself of the heaviness and pain.
In this blog post, I get into HOW you can forgive others by offering a step-by-step process, but for now, I will leave you with this truth that will help you forgive more easily…
Anytime someone hurts you, betrays you, cheats on you, steals from you, judges you, makes fun of you, rejects you, or causes you pain in some way, it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU and everything to do with them.
People do things from their own level of consciousness…consciousness being the level of awareness a person has about their true essence and the Higher truth. It’s basically the extent to which someone is “awake” spiritually. When people’s levels of consciousness have not reached a higher, spiritual state yet, they operate out of unconscious programming. And it is this programming that forces them to do things that inevitably end up hurting others.
However, everyone’s consciousness evolves at its own pace. Everyone has a specific journey that they have to live; a path they have to take, and all of the experiences they have and the mistakes they make, is all there to help them evolve, and awaken, and expand their consciousness, and break away from programmed patterns.
Therefore, whatever someone has done to you is not personal to you, and it has nothing to do with your level of worthiness, but is a direct reflection of where they are on their soul’s evolution. You have to know that when they hurt you, they are operating from their own perspective, based on their own level of consciousness, and reflecting onto you their own fears, inner pains, unprocessed emotions, and unresolved issues. When people hurt others, they do it because they themselves are hurting inside.
Also, sometimes we are simply just too sensitive to the actions of others and take everything personally due to our own unconsciousness and we ALLOW for them to impact us, even if they did nothing wrong. This is something we also have to be careful of.
Understanding WHY people do what they do and becoming aware of your own tendencies will make it that much easier to forgive, let go, and move on.
I hope that this blog post was insightful and that you feel empowered to forgive those who have hurt you so that you can liberate yourself and live more freely!
For step-by-step guidance on HOW to forgive others, check out this post: How to Forgive Others. I’ll also show you how to tell if you still hold a grudge!
If you’re ready to forgive YOURSELF for the mistakes you have made and the pain you’ve caused others, read this post: How to Forgive Yourself- A Step-by-Step Guide where I also share a free self-forgiveness guided meditation.
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