How are you able to forgive the people in your life who have wronged you? I get this question, a lot, and I don’t even think I have an answer that will satisfy those who ask me. I’m honestly not really sure how and sometimes even why I forgive, sometimes easily, sometimes with reservations, but I do know how I feel when I do. I feel better. That statement may sound a little selfish, forgiving to make yourself feel better, but think about it for a second. If you are harboring resentment and anger and carrying that around, do you feel better? I know for me I do not. I feel worse.
Forgiveness can be such a controversial topic among people. Many religions preach forgiveness. Therapists tell you to forgive. But everyone is different and has experiences that are not our own. I know some things may be unforgivable and also unforgettable. I get that too. I myself always wonder how victim’s families forgive murderers and abusers. But maybe that is more part of the healing process for the person(s) wronged and not the person who was responsible. But I am not one to judge, I can only speak of my own experiences.
In some instances I have forgiven but not forgotten. I may be guarded around that person or not as trusting anymore, but I do release the anger and resentment. It’s not an easy process either, it takes a lot of self-reflection on my part. Forgiving does not mean I am naive or walking around with blinders on. It means that I have come to a place where I have reconciled, and at times accepted, what has happened. And for me it brings peace and healing.
Forgiving is a personal thing. It is not a reflection of anyone’s character whether they choose to forgive or not. It is not a sign of strength or weakness. I have family members who constantly bring up all the wrongs that were done to them and it affects them negatively. I have been in that situation too and I felt worse when I was. There have been many instances in my life where the person doesn’t even know I forgave them. I may never even see him/her again, but I still forgave them. I am not saying I am perfect and the poster child for compassion, far from it. But something changes inside me when I forgive. I am able to move on. Sometimes the relationship is repaired and better than ever, sometimes it just ends. I don’t forgive because I expect the person to come running back to me, that would only lead to false hope and it wouldn’t feel genuine for me, it would feel fake, and only lead to more hurt. Forgiveness has to be real, authentic, as least if you want to heal and move on.
I have also written about forgiving myself. For me this was the most important forgiveness of all. Playing your mistakes over and over in your head and being angry at yourself does not help you move forward. Come to terms with what you have done, or didn’t do, and just move forward. There is no timetable for that either. You do it when, or even if you are able.
Forgive and heal yourself first, accept that you are flawed and that mistakes will happen. Forgiveness of others may follow, and if it doesn’t, that is okay too. It is your choice and your life, your experiences, just make sure it is the best choice for you. I can only speak for me and I feel better, happier and most of all, at peace.