"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." - Martin Luther King, Jr
Forgiveness is a complex topic. Choosing to forgive can be one of the most challenging and difficult decision we make. There are many barriers to forgiveness, ranging from misconceptions about what it means to forgive, to not having properly grieved before preparing to forgive.
Psychologist and other researchers view forgiveness as a conscious effort to let go of anger and resentment towards a person or group who has harmed you. It means liberating ourselves from motivations for revenge or avoidance, regardless of whether or not the other person may deserve it. When we forgive others there is a freedom where we are no longer shackled by our own anger.
Holding onto anger and resentment can cause us considerable suffering and emotional pain. It can even harm our bodies, leading to increased stress and a host of physical health problems. The antidote for this, of course, is to choose the path of forgiveness. By choosing to forgive, we are able to let go of the pain associated with our interpersonal injury, and return to a life of peace, happiness and tranquility.
Forgiveness can help undo the negative psychological and physiological effects of holding a grudge, and can help us take our power back.
It's important to know that forgiveness is NOT about the other person; rather, it's for you and you alone. It means taking back the power we've given away, and prioritizing our own healing.
Unforgiveness torments us, not the wrongdoer. It’s a caustic poison within us that corrupts our emotions, stunts us spiritually, and stresses our bodies. When we don’t release the offender, we end up imprisoned in bitterness, resentment, and hostility.
Forgiveness doesn’t negate the wrong done to us. It doesn’t deny the offense or the resulting pain but lets go of the right to get even.
Forgiveness is NOT:
- About the other person
- Condoning or minimizing
- A quick fix
Though easier said then done, many people find that forgiveness can be one of the most powerful tools in helping them free of bitterness and reclaim life.
Forgiveness is a process; it takes time, with everyone's pace and progress along their personal journey different. It's important to recognize small milestones because true forgiveness does not occur quickly.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Gandhi