There is no commandment about it. There is no Thou Shalt Forgive. Yet, this simple act of humanity brings untold advantages to your mental health, the main one being that it helps you to release the pain of the past and gives you peace of mind. Who doesn’t want peace of mind?
We have all been hurt and have also inflicted hurt. The act of forgiveness does not ignore the reality of this pain. It’s not trying to circumvent any old awfulness. There is nothing weak about forgiveness. In fact it has the opposite qualities. It is brave, forthright and full of love. It does not dabble in revenge and resentment.
‘Forgive and forget’, the old adage goes. I don’t agree with it. Forgive, most definitely. Forget? No. You can carry with you the lesson your learned from the hurt but not the emotional pain that accompanied it. Nor does it mean you have to make up again with the person who caused the hurt. It is perfectly reasonable to have to walk away from toxic people in your life. It feels odd, embarrassing even but overall it can be best for your own wellbeing. In fact the act of forgiveness can lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and even compassion. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
So how do we arrive at forgiveness? It’s a personal journey in which you make a commitment to change and you pledge a choice to forgive the offender. You have to recognise that holding on to grudges causes you more pain than to anyone else. It also places you in the role of victim which automatically gives the offender power over you.
If you find yourself stuck make the effort to try to see it from the other’s point of view. You don’t have to agree with it. You just need to see and understand it. Remember too that you are not faultless. That can have a humbling effect. And consider the fact that other people have forgiven you.
And finally when you get to the stage of forgiveness, remember too that you must now promise yourself to make sure you don’t allow this to happen again. You must lock off that vulnerability.
A happier life awaits.