Is there someone you need to forgive? Maybe you need to forgive yourself, a family member, friend, neighbor or even an abuser. Forgiveness does not mean you condone their choices or agree with their actions. It doesn’t mean you will forget what happened.
Many people think if think forgive someone, it makes what they did okay or somehow they are agreeing with what was done to them. Forgiveness really is about taking back your power, letting go of the pain and hurt, and living a life with more peace, joy and happiness.
Forgiveness is a process – a journey. For certain people and circumstances, it happens fairly quickly, while others may take years to move on. If we hold onto the hurt, anger, bitterness and resentment over years, it begins to take a toll on our bodies, mind and spirit and our relationships. It becomes the block to connection to others and ourselves.
I really love this quote from Catherine Ponder, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional ink that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” This really sums up what forgiveness can do for your life.
How do you begin the healing process? Below are a few steps that may help you move closer to forgiving.
- Recognize and own your feelings. How does it feel to hold onto the feelings that come with not forgiving? How have these served you in your life? As you recognize your feelings, the healing process can begin.
- Look at how lack of forgiveness has impacted your personal and professional relationships. How has this affected your ability to trust and connect with others? Have you been the victim and now want to take back your power? Have you allowed the past to determine your future?
- Focus on what’s in it for you. Remind yourself that forgiving can free you to move on with your life and set you free. Tell yourself that the point is to reduce angst.
- Turn the details of your story around. Victims don’t have control of their lives yet heroes do. So make yourself the hero of your own saga. Another way to think of this is that although someone may have precipitated your misery, whether or not you stay miserable is entirely up to you.
- Write a letter to the person you feel harmed or hurt you and then let it go. You can either burn it or send it. It can be the final step to letting go.
Lewis B. Smedes said, “You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.” This is the ultimate goal of forgiveness.