A Guide to Forgiveness
What is forgiveness? It is a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment, anger, or vengeance toward a person who has harmed you in some way.
“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to discover that prisoner was you.”Lewis B. Smedes
Here is my guild to forgiveness.
“When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.”Alan Paton
Uncovering is step one in a guide to forgiveness.
Uncovering means you’ve come to think about the situation that impacted your life and coming to terms with the injustice of it.
Why did this to you? When did it happen? Where did it occur? Thinking about these things and identifying exactly who and what hurt you is important. You can’t start the process of forgiveness if you don’t pinpoint exactly what happened.
You’ll feel a range of emotions here as you start to explore everything that happened. That’s ok. Allow yourself to feel hurt, to feel hate, bitterness, resentment, whatever it is, let it happen. Confront it instead of avoiding it.
“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”Hannah More
Decision is step two in a guide to forgiveness.
This one is pretty self explanatory! You’ll decide if you can or cannot forgive whatever has happened to you and the person who did it. It is obvious that anger and resentment are no longer helping you or serving any purpose in your life.
You’re making a conscious decision to move on toward a happier and healthier life, and you should be proud of that decision!
“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”Suzanne Somers
Work is step three in a guide to forgiveness.
Forgiveness takes work! It truly does. But here’s the thing, if you don’t put in the work, you’ll never move on. It’s time to stop being a victim. Cancel the debt and move on with your life. Once you’ve made the decision to forgive, it’s time to put in the work to make it happen so you can move forward with your life.
“Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.”William Arthur Ward
Release is step four in a guide to forgiveness.
This is where you’ll find that the feelings and emotions you have toward a situation and/or person are decreasing. This means that you’re not only healing, but you’re growing as a person.
The situation that harmed you doesn’t seem as bad as it once did, as the anger and resentment start to fade away. When I reach this phase, I often call whatever person and experience I’m forgiving a life lesson.
What Does Forgiveness Accomplish?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness brings you a peace of mind, and frees you from toxic anger, resentment, and hate toward the person who wronged you.
This empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without allowing it to define you, and that enables you to heal and move on. Forgiveness is a sign of growth and maturity.
Acknowledging someone’s behavior and the harm it has done to you allows you to release that. You move from victim to survivor, and therefore that person’s actions no longer have any power over you or your life.
Forgiveness also encourages compassion. You are able to relate to others who have experienced the same things. Forgiveness also means you go out of your way not to repeat the behaviors that hurt you in the first place.
Why is Forgiveness Difficult?
Nothing inspires forgiveness quite like revenge.”Scott Adams
Forgiveness can be extremely difficult because it goes against our internal sense of justice. Our instinct is the exact opposite. An eye for an eye, so to speak. We have a tendency to want to hold onto the anger and hate until we somehow exact revenge and things are even.
We often use anger as a defense mechanism, to be “tough” and not let anything good or bad happen to us. By not forgiving someone, it leaves us to replay a painful situation in our minds until it has eroded our sense of worth, and that leaves us more vulnerable in the long run.
Forgiveness also may not come with an apology, and that can be a hard pill to swallow. But you may never get the apology you deserve from the person who hurt you. Making peace with the fact they’ll never apologize or may not even understand how toxic or harmful their behavior is makes forgiveness more difficult.
Forgiveness doesn’t require a declaration either. You don’t have to announce it to the person you’re forgiving, especially if you’ve chosen to cut them out of your life. Remember that forgiveness is about you, not the person who hurt you.
A Guide to Forgiveness Notes
I learned a long time ago that some people would rather die than forgive. It’s a strange truth, but forgiveness is a painful and difficult process. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s an evolution of the heart.”Sue Monk Kidd
It is important to note that forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Nor does it mean things are magically ok and the person you forgave gets to waltz right back into your life like nothing happened. You can forgive someone without allowing them back into your life.
You can absolutely forgive someone for their actions and never speak to them again. You are not obligated to reconcile with someone just because you made the choice to forgive them. Because forgiveness isn’t for them, it is for you. It is a way to let go of the hurt they’ve caused you.
Forgiveness is a choice.
A Guide to Forgiveness Discussion
Has this guide helped you forgive someone in your life? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!