Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about forgiveness and how heavily it can weigh on us. A while ago, I had an experience that hurt me deeply and burrowed itself in my mind for the next few months. Whenever I replay the experience in my mind, I feel all the emotions wash over me like a wave, swallowing me whole. I was hurt, angry, and had no intention of letting go.
Matters of the heart are a tricky thing. When we are hurt, our first instinct may not be to jump at the chance to offer our forgiveness. Sometimes, we just don’t want to forgive someone, period! It’s the last thing we want to do. Instead, we would sit in safety with our dear friend’s anger and stubbornness. If forgiveness is integral to finding inner peace, why does it seem like a burden on our to-do list?
WE HAVE NO CONTROL
We tend to think that if we forgive the people who have hurt us, they’re being let off the hook. Even worse- they might do it again. By forgiving, we become vulnerable again, which may feel like an invitation to be hurt again. The truth is, whether you choose to forgive someone or not you have no control over whether they hurt you. We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control the actions we carry out in our daily lives. An empowered heart that offers forgiveness can grieve and liberate itself.
WE LEARN TO FORGIVE OURSELVES
When we look at a situation that has brought us pain, we often picture ourselves as the victims and view the unfolded events through a black-and-white filer. At the time, I thought I had been wholly betrayed and looked at what had happened from my perspective. I was hurt, and that was that. It took me months to realize that how I reacted to being hurt was bringing pain onto others. I was unknowingly acting in the same way as those I was upset about.
We have all hurt others before, intentionally or unintentionally throughout our lives. Don’t allow yourself to be anchored by anger and resentment. Remember that we are all doing our best, and offer your compassion. Forgive yourself, for it will allow you to forgive others.
LETTING GO BRINGS PEACE
You’ll know when you’ve truly forgiven someone because you’ll feel it in every part of you. You’ll feel the sensation of lightness and relief within you once you are ready to forgive. When we forgive someone, we free ourselves from the pain and anger their betrayal brought onto us. We let go of the resentment we harbored within ourselves like a guarded ship yearning to set sail.
Seek the positive in the situation. Take the lessons you’ve learned with you, and remember that each experience is a teacher of it’s own kind. The saying “let go or be dragged” had never rung more true to me than at the moment I chose to free myself. When I finally let go of the memories that had caused me so much bitterness, I felt free from the negativity I didn’t realize I was holding on to.
As frightening as it is to let go of painful experiences, we only harm ourselves by not practicing forgiveness. Do you struggle to cultivate forgiveness? I’d love to hear your story.
“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”