10 Good Reasons To Consider Bringing Forgiveness In Your Life.
The British poet, Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human: to forgive, divine.”
I only came to understand the power of these words when I put them into practice. One of the most self-healing things I ever did was visit my estranged mother’s hospital bedside when she was in the process of dying. I did this partly to acknowledge my own role in our painful dynamic but, more importantly, to forgive my mother and myself. The sense of relief remains profound to this day, more than a decade later. Forgiving allowed me to release anger, judgement and frustration. What remains are understanding, compassion and relief, again, for us both.
Here are 10 good reasons to consider bringing forgiveness in your life.
1. Most importantly, forgiveness is a gift to yourself. It frees you from painful past experiences and relationships. It allows you to live in present time, in the now. There is a tremendous sense of freedom that comes with forgiveness and the release of debilitating judgments about others and yourself. When you forgive yourself for enduring painful experiences and not having loved yourself enough to move away from those situations, you become free to move forward, unencumbered by resentments or shame of the past.
2. Forgiveness gives us present day permission to create our futures, based on what we want, not on what has gone before. Forgiveness implies accepting what is, or was, and becoming willing to re-consider the meaning of what has happened. You heard, saw and felt what happened and you cannot change those experiences. What you can do is stop believing those experiences have left you broken, damaged and wounded. With forgiveness comes a shift in perception about yourself and others.
3. Forgiveness releases energy stuck in the past. If we repeatedly focus thoughts and feelings on painful incidents from our pasts, it takes a toll on our emotional well-being and physical health. Letting go of this energy often results in the reduction of physical ailments such as chronic back pain.
4. Forgiving frees us to experience new relationships with fresh vision. By not forgiving we are more inclined to subconsciously treat present and potential partners, employers and friends as if they are out to hurt us. This is because we fear they too will hurt you in the same way others have in the past. This doesn’t give us a chance to co-create healthier relationships.
5. Forgiving past indiscretions relieves us of chronic anger, frustration and embarrassment. We all make mistakes. Holding onto mistakes ensures we repeat them. Forgiving and letting go permits us to feel peace, relief and resolution.
6. Forgiveness means giving yourself a break. It does not mean you must change your behaviour or accept another’s. Forgiveness can result in the ending of a long battle with yourself and living with greater compassion, self-respect and esteem. If someone has robbed you, forgiveness does not mean you give them the keys to the safe. If someone has criticized or betrayed you, there is no need to continue to confide in them or to ever be in their company again.
7. Forgiveness helps find the freedom to move on unencumbered, able to create more loving and joyful relationships. Forgiveness can be a private affair and it is never too late. All that is required is a shift in perception. You can forgive others without them ever knowing it. It is possible to forgive someone even if they have died, or are unwilling to talk to you, or you are unwilling to talk to them, for fear that putting yourself in their presence will put you in harm’s way.
8. Forgiveness does not mean pretending that all is well. In order to forgive it is not necessary to condone negative, inappropriate behaviour of others, or yourself. You don’t have to accept or support anything that has caused pain. You can protect your rights, testify at a trial, and still forgive the perpetrator. You can move out, divorce your spouse, no longer subject yourself to abuse, and still give yourself a break by forgiving. You can forgive relatives or a friend for being critical and choose not to confide in them.
9. By forgiving, we give ourselves permission to move on. Resentment come from the French word Ressentir: to feel strongly and to feel again. By holding onto resentments we continue to hurt ourselves, again and again and again.
10. Forgiveness is empowering. By forgiving past actions, we stop blaming ourselves and others for our unhappiness. Eliminate the blame, eliminate the unhappiness. When we understand and accept that we are responsible for how we feel and act, we empower ourselves. If we indulge in recurring resentments, never attempting to understand another’s perspective, or refuse to see the larger picture, we avoid acknowledging the potential power we have to change our relationship to the situation. As long as we see the problem as exclusively outside ourselves, as long as we refuse to accept any part of our complicity in a difficult dynamic, we render ourselves helpless. By taking responsibility for our mistakes, we release the hold that shame and regret have had on us.