“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Life sometimes just punches us. We have all experienced pain because of a thoughtless remark, or a lie that someone told about us. Those who have experienced an unhappy marriage, the devastation of infidelity, or suffered physical or emotional abuse know what it feels like to be angry and even feel hatred toward another person.
If someone hurt us, why should we let them off the hook, especially if they show no signs of remorse? It’s tempting to hold on to those negative feelings and build a safety wall, shutting out the outside world and protecting ourselves.
When it appears that the world we live in is filled with pain and we feel overwhelmed by a desire for revenge, it can be easy to forget that the same world is also filled with love, and there is joy and hope that surrounds us as well.
Finding forgiveness for someone who hurt us can be harder than it sounds. It’s a process that takes time and effort. Knowing the benefits of doing it will help you begin. And remember: forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. Forgiveness is coming to a place you can lay something down. Trust is making yourself vulnerable to someone. Too often, these are incorrectly equated, resulting in confusion and guilt feelings.
1. Forgiveness Empowers You
Forgiving someone who hurt you is never easy. However, knowing you cannot change the past, but you can change the future makes it possible to forgive. When you are consumed by the toxic emotions of anger and bitterness, you are still connected to the past and the person who harmed you. By refusing to forgive, you’re not hurting the other person, you’re hurting yourself and giving away your power.
Sometimes you must be okay with the sorry that never came. Finding forgiveness does not make that person’s behavior okay. Forgiveness is not about condoning or excusing, and it’s not about never remembering again, and it’s not about reconciliation. It’s about the healing power that comes from within when you finally let go of the baggage that’s holding you down.
When you choose to forgive, you are breaking the emotional connection and the poisonous hold it has on you. Forgiveness is a conscious decision that puts you in control and is saying, “you no longer have the power to hurt me.”
2. Forgiveness is Freedom
Once you recognize that your painful experience is now in the past and exists only as a memory, the pain becomes nothing more than thoughts you carry around with you. Rather than dwelling on resentment and hatred, you are now free to move forward with your life.
Choosing to not let others (and their weaknesses) have power over you opens the door to a new world of possibilities. Knowing that you can now forgive and let go gives you the freedom to unlock your potential.
3. Forgiveness is a Gift to Yourself
By regaining power and control, along with the freedom to move on and enjoy satisfying relationships with others, you can now realize the gift of finding inner peace and comfort. You will now know that you are capable of handling future difficulties with grace and wisdom.
And remember: when triggers occur and feelings arise about the wrong you experienced, remind yourself that you already forgave and let go. Remind yourself that “I will not live ruminating in resentment.”
NEXT WEEK: Part 2 – “The 5 Steps to Forgiving Someone Who Hurt You”
Wishing you the best always,
Dr. Dale Simpson (The Every Day Psychologist)
Dale Simpson, PhD, is the father of five children. As a practicing psychologist for more than 37 years, he has counseled children, teens, adults and couples and currently practices in Venice, Florida. Dr. Simpson was a cofounder and publisher of an educational magazine, wrote the Inside the Family column for the magazine, served as a featured speaker at numerous parenting and homeschool conferences, and is the publisher of Learning for Life Press.