Right now we seem to be living in a world where people are holding on to past hurts and choosing not to let them go. There is a real need to forgive those who hurt us.
Over the course of my life, I have been sexually assaulted twice. It has affected me in ways that I have come to understand and to actually use to help others.
After the second assault I spent a couple of days struggling mentally and emotionally. I went to the local sexual assault centre and talked to one of the counsellors. She took me to the police station so I could file a report. She constantly encouraged me. She told me that it wasn’t my fault and then said one of the most powerful things anyone has ever said to me. She told me that because I had taken action, I was no longer a victim, I was a survivor. It was such a powerfully simple statement and it changed my life.
The sense of personal power and self-worth that came from that simple statement has always stayed with me. While a traumatic event, I understood that I had the skills to work through it and deal with my feelings. It also gave me the ability to forgive the man who sexually assaulted me the second time. Forgiving him allowed me to move forward and forgive others who had hurt me.
When things happen to us, they shape who we are and who we are becoming. We have the power to control how we react or respond to what has happened.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
What happens when we choose not to forgive?
• Holding on to negative emotion can cause issues such as anxiety, depression, digestive issues, trouble sleeping, weight gain, a weakened immune response, and even heart problems.
• We become angry and bitter.
• Our obsession with the past means we can’t enjoy today.
• There is a lack of purpose in our lives.
• Other people may be reluctant to be with us because of our obsession with the past.
Forgiving someone isn’t one and done. Some things we need to keep in mind:
• What happened is not condoned.
• Forgiveness is not “deserved”.
• Reconciliation is not a requirement.
• Boundaries still need to be set
• Consequences are still required.
• Abuses or crimes need to be reported.
• Trusting the person who hurt you is not a requirement. Trust is an earned privileged.
• The pain still needs to be processed.
There are many benefits of forgiveness. Some are:
• Healthier relationships
• Better mental health
• Less anxiety, stress and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• A stronger immune system
• Improved heart health
• Better self-esteem
It takes a commitment to forgive and we may have to forgive the person more than once. Some of the things we can do to move forward are:
• Choose to forgive because we understand the value of forgiveness
• Acknowledge your emotions, determine how they affect you and work to let them go
• Most importantly, forgive yourself. Forgiving ourselves is probably harder that forgiving someone else, but it is not optional if we are to move forward
There are people who think they can’t forgive because they can’t forget. We don’t have to forget what happened in order to forgive. Do you want to live your life looking in the rear-view mirror or do you want to look to the future? Let’s not worry about forgiving and forgetting, let’s forgive and focus.
How do you move forward?
1. First of all, forgive and let go. If you don’t forgive, the person who hurt you still has power over you. Take back your power by forgiving.
2. Focus on the positive things that you have to offer. In “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” we are challenged to visualize a funeral that turns out to be our own. We were to ask ourselves: What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? What do you want people to say??
3. Find your passion. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going when time gets tough? How are you going to use your experiences to make a positive change in others? How can you change the world in a better way? Use your experience to benefit others.
It is the totality of our life’s experiences both good and bad that makes us who we are. We need challenges to help us to grow into the amazing person we are meant to be. Move forward out of the victim mentality, forgive, let go and be a survivor.
About the Author
Since her first job in a truck stop when she was 15, all of her roles have involved working with people in some capacity. Even if she didn’t enjoy the work, she always loved the people. She has worked in retail, banking, health care, and finance.
Diane has a passion for working with people and helping them to become the best that they can be. Through her life experiences, her own experience of trauma, and her training, Diane has developed the skills to draw people out of their shell and help them overcome what holds them back. She is deeply empathetic and yet challenges her clients to move from languishing to thriving and flourishing.
In her spare time, Diane like to work out (weights, kickboxing, walking), loves to read a good book, volunteers for boards, hangs out with family and friends, and occasionally enjoys a nice glass of wine with friends.
Diane loves spending time with family. Between Diane and her husband, they have 4 adult offspring, 11 grandkids and 5 great grandkids
Diane moved to Calgary in 2000 to attend the University of Lethbridge and get her Bachelor of Management degree. She graduated with Distinction in 2004.