How to Practice Forgiveness

March 27, 2014

When we are very small we develop our emotions the usual suspects, fear, happiness, sadness and anger. Anger is developed so we know when someone has wronged us, it helps us develop boundaries and values but we also develop the ability to not let the anger go and develop grudges or plot revenge.

As we grow up we get hurt by someone we love and trust, we get angry, sad and confused, we get locked up in this set of emotions and sometimes we get stuck there. If we dwell on hurtful events or situations, resentment arrives, followed quickly by vengeance and even hostility and rage. If we stay with these negative emotions we do not move on from them, so we store it up, we will be bitter, we will feel the world is out to get us and so many of us become sad without ever knowing why.

This starts some really bad cycles for us, we repeatedly bring in bitterness to our relationships and experiences, we are the cynics and sceptics, living in the past and waiting for the hurt to appear in the present. We are lining up for anxiety and depression if we stay here to long!

Forgiveness is how we stop ourselves from becoming bitter and stuck and it sounds easy doesn’t it, but to practice forgiveness is really quiet hard. Forgiveness is a powerful tool and is different from acceptance, which is passive.  Forgiveness lets us move on and a life without forgiveness is a life of misery and pain. Forgiveness is a bit like grief it has stages we need to go through.

First, we have to acknowledge that we have to forgive. Our old hurts and wounds are stealing our pleasure and love and being a victim is never a good place to be.

We also have to deal with real feelings of anger and at times, betrayal. Our anger is knocking us out of balance and sometimes at this point we need help to express it, feel it and then let it go.

Then it’s time for us to let go of the need for revenge and reparation for our hurts,

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. It means you have let go of all the negative feelings to the universe or to your god to deal with. We also do not have to make a big thing of forgiveness, we do not have to tell anyone we have forgiven them, we simply let the hold they have on us go.

Finally we need to move away from our feeling of victimization and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in our lives.

Sometimes our hurts are so big that we feel we cannot forgive – abuse etc and in these cases we often find people who can forgive the person but not the act itself – they are the ones who campaign to ensure it never happens to anyone else – these are truly the brave people among us.

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