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We have probably at some point in our life heard forgiveness is for you, not them.  Or you can forgive but you don’t need to forget.  None of the advice feels helpful when you are in pain, feel the need for revenge, to be right or maybe just get an apology.

Why Is It So Hard To Forgive?

Besides the emotions that are running through our body and the replaying of the situation, as a culture, we don’t really get what forgiveness is.  Many of us believe if we forgive someone they are exonerated from wrongdoing.  They get to be happy and carefree why we, the victim, are suffering.  They still get to be in our lives and we have to keep accepting the behavior.

What Forgiveness is Not

Forgiveness is not about letting the person go free with no accountability.  It isn’t allowing the offense to happen again or allowing the person back into our lives.  It also doesn’t mean that we will ever get along with or talk to this person again. The hardest part is forgiveness is not about an apology either.

What Forgiveness Is

Forgiveness that sets you free is letting go.  You don’t have the need to condemn or be right. You simply don’t think about it anymore.  It holds no energetic charge for you.  However, when you are still in that space of anger or pain you can’t be expected to just let go.  You should feel the feelings.  Those feelings shouldn’t be shut down, censored, or changed.  It also doesn’t mean those feelings should be acted on.  Getting even, or revenge doesn’t actually help the person who was wronged, where forgiveness does.

When you truly forgive you have not forgotten, you will still have triggers but we don’t focus on the past when they happen. We feel the feeling and let go.

Why Forgiving is For You

When you forgive you are giving up the suffering of the past.  It transforms anger, hurt, and guilt, into a sense of peace and ease for you.  It is a decision you decide and sometimes keep deciding.  It has both physical and mental benefits.  Physically, forgiving has been shown t lower heart rate, blood pressure, and fatigue.  Mentally, it has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and negative thoughts.

Steps You Can Use To Forgive

Frederic Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, has outlined 9 steps for forgiveness. Some are listed below.

1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.

2. Do what you have to do to feel better.

3. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.

4. At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.

5. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace, and prosperity and work hard to get them.