Honestly when I hear the word forgiveness, I cringe a little. Mostly because I have a difficult time forgiving myself. According to psychologists, forgiveness is a conscious deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness. Let’s explore the different types of forgiveness because this will help to understand where there might be areas in life where forgiveness is needed.
Forgiveness of others.
Once someone has wronged you and you feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, forgiveness is very difficult. Our tendency is to want to hurt them back. A reminder that forgiveness doesn’t mean to take lightly the offence or remove consequences. Forgiveness does bring peace to the forgiver. Letting go of negatively held feelings gives you peace of mind. When you don’t let the pain this person caused you remain, you can move forward with your life.
Forgiveness of groups
There are groups of people who are formed specifically to hurt others. If we pronounce hate against them and try to find ways to punish them, this is seen as a strength. In fact many believe forgiveness means weakness. The sentiment is if you forgive, you are weak. However, forgiveness is one of the most courageous things you can do. The essence of forgiveness is being resilient when things don’t go the way you want them to. The realization that no one owes you anything and you don’t have to hurt someone because they hurt you. Most important is moving forward with an open heart and accepting what is, without prejudice. Tweet this.
Forgiveness of self.
This is the toughest one for me. According to (Holmgren, 1998) self–forgiveness first requires an objective fault or wrongdoing; second, negative feelings triggered by this offense must be overcome; and, third, an internal acceptance of oneself must be achieved. The negative feelings (denial, guilt, or shame) that arise from the wrongdoing can overwhelm me and I punish and self sabotage myself in the hopes that it will compensate for what I have done. However, an internal acceptance, self-awareness and compassion must be achieved to move forward. Consequences for the wrongdoing must be accepted. I need to have a change of heart and work to change my behavior, maybe even change my circumstances. Finally, I have to be willing to abandon self resentment that affects every part of my life and relationships and find meaning, or a new purpose.
There can be a constant practice of forgiveness. Fred Luskin created the 9 Steps to Forgiveness . In reading through these, my favorite step was number 8 where he says “Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge.” Focusing on the person or group who wronged you and seeking revenge is not ultimately what punishes them, it is how your live your live in spite of what this person or group has done to you.
Give forgiveness in a way that gives the next moment a chance. Tweet this. This next moment could be the most beautiful moment you experience. I have experienced this in my own life with my children. When they have wronged me, moving forward in love and compassion, I have seen them grow and mature to show the same love and compassion to others.
What is the most difficult part of forgiveness for you? Do you still hold anger and resentment in your life from past hurts? Can you describe a beautiful moment of forgiveness?