As I sit down to share my thoughts on forgiveness, the first thing that comes to mind is that nobody is perfect. I would venture to guess that in some way we have all transgressed and hurt someone. I think that gives space for compassion for oneself and for others.
Sometimes words or actions are intentional. I have been on the receiving end of intentional harm. For the most part I have just moved along and summed it up to someone else living in ignorance or bound to their own pain. A few years ago I experienced some particularly egregious behaviors that affected me severely on many levels. It has taken almost 4 years to sort it out and finally forgive. Believe me, I tried to let go of the pain, anger, and grief. With support from a couple experienced practitioners and spiritual guidance I have navigated through to healing.
Sometimes words or actions are unintentional. We can’t always know what another would find as offensive or hurtful. In these cases, we can set boundaries, remove ourselves from the person, and even simply extend mercy.
Holding onto grudges and resentment can make us sick physically and emotionally. Harboring negative feelings only perpetuated suffering. It is important to make a conscious decision to break free from this cycle.
Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning another’s behavior. Letting go of resentment allows us to foster empathy and understanding, not only for others but also for ourselves. It can be a process and often is. Forgiveness can require patience, compassion, and self-reflection. But with each act of forgiveness, that’s another step towards emotional freedom.
The question I’ve heard often, and even asked myself is HOW? How do I forgive? Truly, the bottom line is to choose it. It’s not always easy, but it is a choice. Underneath lack of forgiveness can be: unmet expectations, anger, helplessness, grief, shame, victimhood, and other deep beliefs and wounds. It might require that you seek help from a therapist, religious leader, or other practitioner to work through what is underneath holding unforgiveness. It is worth releasing yourself and others from the chains of unforgiveness.