People can hurt each other in many ways; from the trivial to the significant, from the annoying to the terrible, from the irritating to the life-changing. Regardless of the nature of the hurt, and the level of pain it causes, feeling anger and resentment tend to extend the life of that pain. When you choose forgiveness, you begin to end that pain.
Whatever happened, happened just as it did happen and, although you can’t change what happened, you can choose how you will happen to it. How you choose to happen to something also involves how you think and feel about what did happen.
Forgiveness opens the way for you to see things more clearly and understand what really did happen, and why it happened. You can choose to forgive, which will free you from anger and resentment and allow you to feel joy, love, and peace. Or, you can choose to hold on to bitterness and blame and feel sadness, hurt, and pain.
Whatever the incident that hurt you, recognize it for what it is – a hurt feeling, an aggravating moment, a terrible misfortune, or whatever it may be – and be willing and strong enough to let it go and continue forward. By choosing to forgive, you are creating a space for peace, love, hope, and joy for yourself and for those who have wronged you.
Why You Resist Forgiveness
“I’ll be damned if I let him off the hook for the hurt he caused me!”
While such an expression is understandable, you’ve missed the target if you think forgiving someone “Lets them off the hook” for what they did. Rather, by forgiving them, you’re letting yourself “Off the hook” for the pain and anguish you feel; enabling yourself to set aside the negative feelings and moving on in a positive direction, toward a joyful life.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean excusing them or forgetting what happened. Don’t worry about that. Their guilt is not your concern or burden to carry. That is their own. The real power in forgiveness is not in what it does for the other person but rather what it does for you.
When you live in anger and resentment over a wrong that has been done, you give the wrong-doer power over you. For as long as you resent them and their behavior, they are in control.
Forgiveness isn’t something you only give to others, it is a gift you give yourself. When you forgive, you will still have memories of past hurts and wrongdoings, but through forgiveness you can change how you feel about them, and choose what power they can have over you. In this case, they have none.
The ability to forgive is a powerful one. Yet, as with most things we value as humans, it must be learned. The really cool thing is, you can practice forgiveness by beginning with forgiving yourself!
To learn more about forgiving others – and yourself – get yourself a copy of my book, The ABCs of Joyful Living, and let me know how the steps I outline in it have helped you have more joy.