“Forgive and forget” is one of those sayings that is often much easier said than done. The reason why it’s so hard to forgive and forget is because it’s a survival mechanism. If something harmed you once, you’re not going there again. But for our happiness and mental well-being forgiveness play an important role.
I’ll admit it. I’m probably not the most forgiving person out there.
It’s not that I think people are bad or non-deserving of forgiveness. It has rather something to do with me being my sensitive self and being “hurt” is sort of a big deal. My brain can copy that something happened a long time ago and forgiveness would be in order. Hey, I can even bring myself think “I forgive”, but at the same time my emotions aren’t complying. It isn’t genuine. There’s still a bit of that bitterness in my heart. I can’t force myself to feel a certain way when it’s clearly not how I feel. I recognize in myself that I still have a long way to go, but I’m willing to open up to new possibilities.
Carrying around hurt and bitterness is very unhealthy and can damage your overall well-being. Forgiving give us a chance to get rid of heavy load and to instead heal the pain. To forgive doesn’t mean you condone the wrongdoing or letting the “bad guy” off the hook. Forgiveness is not the same as justice, nor does it require reconciliation of any sort. It doesn’t even mean you need to forget. It’s all about releasing negativity and the emotional baggage you’re carrying around so that you can move on. Forgive them for your own sake, not for theirs.
Research has indicated that forgiveness is linked to mental health and can help reduce depression, anxiety and major psychiatric disorders. Toussaint, Worthington and David R. Williams, PhD, edited a 2015 book, “Forgiveness and Health,” that detailed the physical and psychological benefits of forgiveness.
So how do you go about to forgive when it’s difficult?
1. Know forgiveness is possible
In order to forgive, you must first believe that forgiveness is actually possible. Is forgiveness a feasible solution to the problem? There are instances when extending forgiveness is extremely challenging. A good example of that is a killing of a loved one.
2. Make a list
Put together a list, listing everyone who has done you wrong in some way starting from childhood. Once you got the list ready, arrange them in order from the lowest level of injustice to the highest. Then you start from the bottom of the list, seeing as starting with somebody high up would be like running a marathon while physically not fit for it. As you move higher up the list, you’ll gradually become more forgivingly fit as you go.
A good idea is to sit down and reflect. Try to analyse the situation. Try to understand what happened and why. Chances are that the person who hurt you didn’t do it on purpose. Perhaps they were struggling with something themselves that made them say, or act in a certain way. We are all human, we all make mistakes. It doesn’t justify what they did, but at least it might help bring you some peace of mind knowing there is a reason behind their actions.
4. Acknowledge growth
As a result of what happened, did you learn anything? Either about yourself, your needs and your boundaries? You survived the situation and just maybe, you also grew from it. All that is negative, also have a positive.
5. Move on to the next chapter
Your past history, the things that hurt you are no longer here in your physical reality. Do not allow them in your mind, clouding your present. Instead, start a fresh, new chapter in your life.
“Resentment is like taking poison and hoping it kills the other person.”
So what about you? Do you forgive easily or do you find it difficult? What do you do to get pass it?