In my Jan 30, 2023, blog I wrote about forgiveness, why we should forgive, what unforgiveness does to us mentally and physically, and a little about how to forgive.
There is so much information on forgiveness that it can be hard to figure out what works best for you. So often we are told that we need to let go and forgive right away. We read in the paper where people declare that they will never forgive the person who hurt them. Why should they, if they forgive the person, it means that they are getting away with what they did. This is so far from the truth.
WHY??? Why should we forgive?
First of all, forgiveness is not about the person who hurt us. It is about us, letting go of the hurt and by extension, letting go of the person who hurt us. When we hold on to the hurt, the person we are damaging the most is ourselves. We are giving someone else power over us and our emotions. They don’t deserve the space they are taking up in our heads. We (YOU!!!) deserve a full life without the presence of someone else mentally interfering with your actions and reactions. When we make the choice to forgive, we are taking back our power and living our lives the best we can.
Second, the most important person to forgive is you. I spent a lot of years living in “if only”. If only I hadn’t drank too much, if only I hadn’t let that person into my house, if only, if only, if only. I had to make the decision to let go of my actions and understand that the same circumstances with a more honorable person would have ended differently. I remember years ago, someone saying that what happened to us in life because we chose to be there. I was really angry when I heard this. I didn’t choose to be sexually assaulted; I didn’t choose for others to hit me. I ultimately came to interpret this statement (my interpretation) as, I chose to be in that place at that time, but I couldn’t choose the actions of others. It wasn’t my fault. After that, it became much easier to let it go and forgive myself.
Third, don’t think in terms of forgiving and forgetting. This is a phrase that I truly dislike. If we were to forget the negative that happened to us, we wouldn’t have the richness of the stories that are told that inspire us. When we hear of things that others have endured and then overcome, we have a wondrous sense of hope. If they can do it, so can I. There are lessons in the remembering. We learn from our own experiences and then we have the ability to share with others. Our journey is so important both for ourselves and for those who hear it later.
Fourth, we can make the decision to forgive while the emotions are still raw. We may also have to forgive the person who hurt us more than once. We keep forgiving until we know that it is done. When is that? In my mind, it’s when we no longer have any emotional attachment. We can think of the incident without emotion. The hurt is no longer there. This will take some time, but it can be done. It takes persistence on our parts. I can remember talking to my mom after I was laid off from a job. I was lied to and not treated all that well by my boss. My mom knew him and told me that I should be grateful for the opportunities that I had while employed there. I told her that gratitude would come later, but right now I needed some time to be angry and to process the hurt. After a few months, it happened. I forgave him and moved forward, although I did take some perverse pleasure when I heard about some struggles he had in a new role. I am certainly not anywhere near perfect, and I guess I had some more forgiving to do.
Overall, choosing forgiveness is one of the most important decisions we can ever make. We do it for ourselves and through forgiveness we can improve our mental and physical health. We will also improve our relationships with the people who care for us the most. Do yourself a favour and forgive someone.
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.