This post is dedicated to people currently struggling with the thoughts of forgiving people who have hurt them physically, mentally or emotionally.
I am going to approach this subject rather cautiously because people’s feelings, experiences and possibly judgements are involved.
What Is Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the ability to release the mind and heart from all past hurts, failures, guilt, shame, humiliation and loss. It enables you overcome anger, resentment or a desire to punish or get even with someone who has harmed you.
It is the result of a process that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender. Most scholars view this as an intentional and voluntary process, driven by a deliberate decision to forgive. This process results in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite their actions, and requires letting go of negative emotions toward the offender.
It is central to healthy human development and may be one of the most important processes in the restoration of interpersonal relationships after conflict (Hill 2001)
In all honesty, forgiving could be difficult particularly when the people who wronged us don’t deserve our forgiveness.
At times, it could be a difficult or traumatic experience because people tend to hurt us in several ways and I dare say the act of forgiveness isn’t necessarily always an easy option.
There are certain events which stir up bitterness, anger, hatred…. … this in turn creates an emotional conflict and the thoughts of forgiving isn’t usually on the agenda.
In my case:
- Being betrayed and having my love for someone smashed to pieces right before my very eyes.
- Backstabbed and slandered by a ‘close friend’ in 1996 (lol!!! I remember the date)
- Patronized, heckled and ridiculed for making certain decisions.
- Bearing grudges with my eldest sisters’ ex boyfriend who split up with her 4 days after my dad died. (On the plus side: she’s happily married with a kid and as for him…….. hmmh!!!.)
- Swindled by close friends.
The list is endless but these are the ones that come to mind immediately.
For you it may be:
- Experiencing an abusive, troubled or rocky relationship.
- Your secrets get exposed.
- People you loved and cherished walk out on you
- Losing your children through a divorce.
- People set out to intentionally hurt you physically, mentally, emotionally…….
There are so many more examples I can come up with because each person/event is unique; but the big question is WHAT DO YOU DO when you are struggling to forgive someone who really hurt you.
I DONT KNOW
IT’S A PERSONAL ISSUE.
However, the aim of this post is to highlight the benefits of forgiveness and suggest a few steps to forgiveness leaving you to make an informed decision at the right time.
In no particular order, the benefits of forgiveness are as follows:
It improves your physiological health and aids emotional healing through the concept of reconciliation.
Forgiving someone helps in maintaining a stable blood pressure and is of immense cardiovascular benefits. (Dr Everett L. Worthington)
It improves your mental well being by reducing the levels or chances of depression as a result of better support and interaction from friends and family.
It strengthens your spirituality, develops your social interaction and enables you manage conflict considerably.
It allows you gain control of your emotions with a view to reducing blame, anger and hostility linked to the issue causing offence.
It decreases your levels of stress and increases your level of optimism
It promotes hope and increases the frequency of joyful experiences.
It also influences your attitude which exposes your heart to kindness, beauty, warmth and love.
It gives you some peace and comfort when you totally surrender the grudge and hurt by forgiving
Forgiveness gives you control over your emotions thereby giving you the ability to make sound/good judgements
It gives you the ability to take responsibility for your feelings.
It acknowledges and accepts that the past can’t be changed at all and this is a step to the healing process.
Steps To Forgiveness
In his research Dr. Frederic Luskin (the author of Forgive For Good) proposes 9 steps to forgiveness which I found quite useful because I could relate to it.
Below is summary of steps to forgiveness (Dr Luskins steps included)
Know How You Feel
It’s important to know and understand how you feel about what happened and also be able to express it clearly to people who are there to support you.
Be Committed To Feeling Better
It’s difficult but you must make a firm decision and do everything possible within your ability to feel better. Always remember (in context) forgiveness is for you and no one else.
Seek to be at peace internally because that puts you in the right frame of mind. Forgiveness doesn’t mean tolerating wrong doings or necessarily reconciling with those who hurt you; it just creates peace and understanding from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally and changing the hurtful story responsible for the grief.
Know Your Distress
You need to understand and recognise that at times your distress currently experienced could be as a result of hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upsets rather than who or what offended/hurt you recently.
Try relaxing and being calm through the use of several stress management techniques such as deep breathing, journaling, laughing, exercising…. .. This helps alleviate your body’s flight or fight response.
Be optimistic and realistic with the affairs and people that govern your life. Try as much as possible to keep your emotions in check
Channel Your Efforts Constructively
Put your efforts into methods or processes that would help you achieve new goals set to conquer the hurt and pain you are currently experiencing. Do things that would give you so much joy and happiness.
Live Your Life.
Yes, LIVE YOUR LIFE and LIVE IT WELL!!! Make good use of all the good opportunities that come your way. Spend time with your friends, family, children…. Live life to its fullest rather than focus on your wounded feelings.
Change Your Story
Let the hurtful event or experience have a promising end which is your choice to forgive.
Face Your Fears
Face your fears by taking risks, building positive relationships, discussing or sharing the pain experienced with friends, family…..
Happiness is important because it improves your mood, alleviates the hurt experienced and builds your optimism. Do things to promote your happiness such as:
- Make new friends or meet new people.
- Counting your blessings.
- Positive interaction with children, friends, families, colleagues……..
- Showing genuine acts of kindness to different people.
Think Of The Future
Let your thoughts of the future be inspiring, memorable, motivating and encouraging.
It’s important to note:
- Forgiveness isn’t condoning unruly behaviour or unkindness.
- It’s not denying or minimizing the hurt
- It’s not forgetting the painful event.
- It’s not making you dead to your feelings or reconciling with the offender
Would all these steps or benefits help me forgive someone who has hurt me deeply????
My response: I don’t know because it’s so personal; but it’s definitely worth trying.
I look forward to your comments and suggestions.
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