Forgiveness – an action that has the power to bring light and ease to our lives. But let’s be honest: Forgiveness is not easy.
To understand why, we must first understand our hearts.
We are emotional beings, and in the deepest parts of ourselves, many of us carry burdens and resentments from our past. Maybe you’ve been betrayed by a spouse. Maybe a co-worker took credit for a project you completed. Or maybe your parent mistreated you as a child, and you have trouble trusting others to this day. Those burdens and resentments can affect and infect our hearts, leading us to emotional, physical, and mental places we never intended to go.
This is something that displays itself in behaviors of withdrawal, shutting out our friends and loved ones, frequent outbursts with no self-control or regard for others, or even eating or shopping more than usual.
Most of the time, we let these behaviors ride because it hurts too much to deal with them. But to harness the liberating power and freedom of forgiveness, we need to do the work. Start by swallowing your pride. Explore the root of your emotions and any unresolved issues preventing you from forgiving someone.
When did this response start?
Who triggered or initiated this response from me?
How am I dealing with it?
Once you find answers to these questions, you can begin the process of forgiving others – and most importantly, yourself.
A few years ago, I read, “Holding onto forgiveness is like imprisoning yourself while the other person is walking free.”
Isn’t that the truth?
It’s hard to grant forgiveness when the person who wronged us doesn’t seem to deserve it. But by holding on to unforgiveness, we often harm ourselves more than the original offender.
When you’ve explored the roots of your emotions and behaviors, you can begin forgiving and embracing the freedom that comes with it.
Here are some ways to get started.
Pray and actually believe you are worthy of healing
Seek help from a counselor or therapist
Be honest about your emotions and behaviors
Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life.
Acknowledge you are moving forward. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean the person regains access to your life. Be okay letting them go. I heard a song that said, “It hurts to let go, but it hurts more to stay.”
By granting forgiveness, whether to yourself or someone else, you are letting go of the burdens and resentments you once had. As a result, you will no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. It doesn’t mean these feelings won’t try to resurface, but it does give you the power to reject staying in that space, allowing it to consume you.
Be ready to experience health benefits like healthier relationships, higher self-esteem, less depression, anxiety, and hostility in your life.
Remember: Forgiveness is an act of strength, not weakness. You’ve got this!
What has helped you on your path to forgiveness? Share your thoughts below.