Forgiveness is not an easy thing to embrace. When someone you care for hurts you, it is up to you to decide if you want to hold on to the hurt or let it go and move forward. The action that caused you emotional pain may be something small, such as your best friend standing you up for a lunch date, or something much more impactful. Maybe your mother can't stand to spend more than an hour with your children. Even worse, maybe your spouse cheated on you. How will you ever get past that betrayal?
Emotional scars can leave you feeling angry and bitter long after the damage is done. You may contemplate ways to "get back" at the person who hurt you so badly. This is never a good practice as harboring feelings of hurt and bitterness and holding grudges against those who have hurt you badly can lead you to become depressed and emotionally overwhelmed, while feeling unsatisfied and frustrated as you are the only one experiencing this aftermath. The truth is, when you plot retribution you are only digging the hole deeper and adding more hurt and confusion to the mix as the negative energy feeds on itself and make you more miserable. Getting back at someone for the hurt they've caused you is double devastation.
Forgiveness. What a powerful word. Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of the resentment toward the person who hurt you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting; instead, it means accepting the fact that nothing can be done to change what has happened, as well as allowing yourself to let go of the hurtful emotions that resulted. Letting go of the animosity can pave the path for compassion, kindness, and peace in your life... to forgiveness.
Forgiveness can do many things for your well-being. It can lead to healthier relationships, greater psychological well-being, less stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, and fewer signs of depression. It can also lower your risk of using alcohol or chemical substances to lessen your pain. This being said, knowing that your life can improve by choosing this path may not make it any easier to not hold a grudge or forgive somebody.
Sometimes it is easier to hold grudges than forgive someone you love or trust, or both, who has caused you to become angry, confused, or sad. Grudges take root if you choose dwell on hurtful situations, and sometimes the hurt is so deep and present that it may seem impossible to let it go. This is the point where resentment and hostility begin as well. If you are one to hold grudges and are generally unforgiving, you may find that you bring cynicism into every new friendship or relationship. You may be so miserable that you find it hard to enjoy or notice the wonderful things in your life. You may mistrust the people who would never purposefully do things to hurt your feelings.
Forgiveness requires you to make a commitment to change. It takes effort to get over the wall of hurt and anger, and time to let go of those emotions that you may feel you’ve earned the right to harbor. Forgiveness has to do with being kind to yourself and caring enough about YOU to allow yourself to shed the pain and heal. The best thing you can do for yourself is to consider the true value of forgiveness. Consider the peace you can find and the stress you can let go of if you choose to let go of the past, forgive those who hurt you, and move on with your life.
Most people who hold grudges play the part of a victim, giving power to the person who hurt them. Let go! Don't define your world, your life and your well-being by allowing anyone else to control your feelings. This is the first step to finding compassion and understanding and getting on the path to becoming a happier you!
Nobody is perfect. Remember that. If you are finding it hard to forgive somebody, think about times in your life where you may have done something to hurt somebody. Most people have good intentions, as well as occasional imperfections. If you can't bring yourself to forgive someone and you need help, turn to your "rock". In this situation, choose a "rock" that is impartial to the situation. You may want to seek advice from clergy, a trusted co-worker, an impartial friend, or your counselor. Anyone who can listen to what's going on in your world and offer advice to help you move past the hurt.
Remember that you cannot change the other person. You can only change yourself. If part of your plan was to forgive somebody, assuming they will change their ways because of your forgiveness, you will be sorely disappointed. Changing our habits, how we think, or anything else that has become part of who we are, is not something that can be done in a day, a week, or even a month. It is an ongoing process that takes commitment and just because you are willing to change by giving forgiveness does not mean the other person shares your commitment.
Lastly, if you are the one seeking forgiveness, the first step is to be honest with yourself. Acknowledge what you have done wrong and how your transgressions have affected other people. Don't judge yourself too harshly. Remember, nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes. If you are truly sorry for things you have done or said, you may want to admit it and apologize to the people you have hurt.
Be sincere when expressing your regret and ask for forgiveness, and don’t make excuses. (There is no excuse for being hurtful to someone who loves and/or trusts you.) From this point forward, be committed to treating people with compassion and respect. It will make a world of difference in your life and to the ones who love you.
You may be struggling right now, trying to forgive someone. Or, you may be needing someone to forgive you. Either way, the counselors at Orange County Relationship Center help you. Call us today at 949-220-3211 or book your appointment via our online calendar.