What does it certainly mean to forgive? Would you forgive without forgetting? So how exactly does it feel to forgive or be forgiven? Can it be simpler to forgive a real pain incurred by another’s accidental actions than a psychological wound inflicted with intent? Does “sorry” from the offender require forgiveness from the offended? Does the offended require an apology to be able to forgive the offender?
I have pondered the thought of forgiveness many times. I suspect most of us have. We’ve all been hurt and we have all been the explanation for someone else’s pain.
While endeavoring to explore what forgiveness means and why it is considered so important to your mental health, I reflected upon some well known aphorisms.
“To err is human; to forgive divine.” (Alexander Pope)
“We ought to develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who’s devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is good quality in the worst of us and some evil in the very best of us.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget is another means of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness should be like a cancelled note-torn in two and burned up such that it never can be shown against one.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
“Without forgiveness there’s no future.” (Desmond Tutu)
Many religions encourage and even require forgiveness as an act of piety.
There is, in fact, no end to famous maxims encouraging us toward forgiveness. Can it be really so easy? No, obviously it isn’t, but it is possible and it is inside our control.
There is a wide range of affronts, accidents, and human atrocities that have left small, large and inconceivable wounds upon individuals, groups and civilizations. There are monstrous acts of inhumanity which are beyond understanding and should not be forgiven or forgotten a course in miracles podcast. There are simple oversights which are dismissed without hesitation. It’s the “in betweens” that cause so much consternation. Particularly amongst family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Here is the physical and emotional terrain where most of us live. It’s where we react and over-react. It’s where we experience our most raw feelings and where we can cause the absolute most enduring sorrow. That is where forgiveness and acceptance become a built-in element of our humanity and our mental health.
I don’t feel that forgiveness requires forgetting. I don’t still find it always possible to forget. I really do feel that the test of forgiveness lies inside our emotional being. What does this mean? This means that if you were to think back on the incidence that initiated the pain and there is still hurt or anger that bubbles from within, you’ve not forgiven. We experience true forgiveness when the event ceases to trigger a poor emotional response.
Forgiving may be the area of the equation that is inside our control. We can’t force anyone to forgive us. We are able to extend the olive branch, request forgiveness, even offer compensation if appropriate. But we cannot choose for anyone else. We are able to, however heal, even without having to be granted forgiveness from whomever we have injured. It starts with forgiving ourselves. It may sound like a cliche, but it’s true. With or without forgiveness from another, we still need certainly to release our own guilt. It is easier to take action if the person we have hurt accepts our apology, but in either case we can use self forgiveness to heal and let go. We are able to incorporate the encounter into our being and allow it to influence our future choices of behavior.
When we hold on to anger or resentment, we unwittingly encourage your body’s stress response which can trigger some unhealthy physical reactions. Meditation, yoga, visualization, breathing exercises and prayer are all types of coping with stress and reprogramming our responses to events we cannot control or change.
What else can we do to greatly help ourselves forgive or accept non forgiveness if it is wanted however, not granted? First, don’t make assumptions about what someone else is thinking or feeling. Odds are you will undoubtedly be wrong or, at the very least, not completely right. Wrong assumptions generally lead to the perpetuation of bad feelings and hinder the capability to heal. Second, don’t reinforce the negative emotions by continuing to re-live the encounter through stories you tell yourself and others. Third, try treating forgiveness like any other behavior you would like to see extended for your requirements and those around. Even if forgiving doesn’t come naturally, it can be a learned behavior. In the event that you offer and practice forgiveness, others are prone to accept and extend exactly the same behavior. Finally, Decide that giving and accepting forgiveness is more important than who you think is right or how a conflict was initiated. Even earliest pens woulds can be healed through practicing genuine forgiveness. Remember, we’re discussing the “in-betweens” here not monstrous acts of abuse that could belong to the sounding atrocities. Forgiving and healing from the deep scarring of physical and emotional trauma is just a subject and procedure that goes way beyond the scope of the article.