How To Forgive | The Challenges of Forgiveness
Learning how to forgive is an important process associated with good mental health and well-being. The importance of forgiveness lies in the benefits we experience when we choose to forgive. If you deliberately choose to forgive the person who treated you unjustly, you are choosing not to hold the feeling of resentment.
Research shows that the act of forgiveness can help you let go of negative emotions, therefore alleviating anxiety and depression. Conscious forgiveness can boost your immune system and improve your relationships.
Our need for forgiveness stems from the perception that we were treated unjustly. The initial responses to the injury include anger, blame, helplessness, sadness, disappointment, and thoughts of revenge.
However, an understanding of common humanity and recognizing that flaws and misbehavior are a part of our shared human experience can contribute to the process of forgiveness. After we understand common humanity, the starting point of forgiveness begins.
Understanding the Difference between Guilt and Shame
Understanding the difference between guilt and shame is important in the process of forgiveness. Guilt helps you understand your mistakes and wrong choices. It helps you comprehend that you caused harm to another being. It motivates you to improve and to change your behavior.
On the other hand, shame causes feelings of fault and worthlessness. Shame involves the feeling that there is something wrong with you at the core. Consequently, shame is often the root cause of anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.
What Is and What Isn’t Forgiveness
If you highly value the relationship with the person who caused you harm, you will be more motivated to reconcile and forgive. Reconciliation means that you want to go on with the person and the relationship. Forgiveness means that you release a person out of debt and letting go of destructive feelings toward that person.
However, forgiveness does not mean forgetting. When you forgive someone, this doesn’t mean the act of hurt is undone. Forgiveness means that you do not forget the offense but show a willingness to let go of the past and move on. The choice to forgive allows you to let go of perceiving yourself as a victim and to believe in yourself and others again.
If you decide to ignore the hurt or to suppress negative feelings the hurt has provoked, forgiveness can never happen. It means that you have set free feelings of anger, resentment, and blame towards yourself or someone else, made peace with the past, and are ready to move on.
Coming to Terms with Hurt and Anger
Anger is never a solution. It is natural to feel angry when you are hurting. However, anger never resolves the problems that caused it in the first place. Similarly, anger cannot make your negative emotions and hurt melt away.
Anger occurs as a reaction to emotional pain. But, even distracted with anger, you still feel sad, hurt, disappointed, or humiliated. When you decide to simply let go and come to terms with hurt, resentment, and anger dissolve after some time.
In the act of forgiveness, the emphasis is not anymore on the person or act that caused hurt, but on yourself. You deliberately decide to forgive to achieve peace, because forgiveness is the only way to come to terms with the past and move on.
How to Forgive Yourself
Forgiveness also extends to ourselves. We must be able to let go of past choices that may not have worked out “well”, take the learning from it, and move forward.
If you are ready to do just that, to move yourself forward and are really ready to start authoring a new story for yourself, contact me. Let’s discuss your visions and see how I can best support you moving forward.