Learning to forgive others and yourself, to let go and release the emotional pains of the past is not always easy, yet it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and another. What is often surprising to the forgiver is that the power of forgiveness lies not only in its ability to heal relationships, but even moreso, to heal yourself.
Sometimes the most difficult part of the process is really understanding why forgiving is in your best interest. After all, they hurt you, they did you wrong. Why should you forgive them? They don't deserve it!
Logically, you may know you 'should' forgive, yet it is a step that people often resist or find difficult. Even more difficult than forgiving someone else of their wrongs against you is forgiving yourself for your mistakes and how you hurt yourself and/or someone else.
Learning to forgive is the easy part. Actually doing it is another story.
Part of the reason seeking forgiveness and being forgiving is difficult is that our brains are wired to protect us. We hold on to traumatic memories and resentments as a survival mechanism. It is one way humanity has been able to survive. Those who could sense danger and flee survived to reproduce another generation. We learn from our mistakes. We punish ourselves for our mistakes so we do not repeat them.
Depending on your definition of forgiveness, you may feel that it you are better off holding onto your hurt and resentments rather than risk being hurt again. Your culture probably has strong teachings about when, how and who to forgive. Or perhaps you feel you deserve the retribution, punishment, or attention that nursing a wrong brings. It feels safer to hold on than to let go.
To add to the confusion, our thoughts and actions around forgiveness are often contradictory. We may long for it, but would sometimes rather suffer with guilt and fear than ask for it.
We have the power to show compassion, but choose to be hardhearted and consumed with resentment and feelings of victimization instead. This is especially true when you feel someone (or yourself) truly deserves to suffer for terrible wrongdoing and are undeserving of mercy.
Why is this? Is it about ego? About the balance of power? About getting attention and payback because you are a 'victim'? Does it help you avoid facing and acknowledging your role in creating the problem, if any? When you look at the faults in another, does it help you avoid looking at your own shortcomings?
Perhaps clinging to old hurts provides an excuse to stay stuck instead of moving forward.
These are not always easy questions to answer. Nor are they meant to be judgmental. Sometimes forgiving is a difficult process that forces you to dig deep within yourself. Sometimes you just are not ready. Often, learning to forgive is a matter of really understanding what forgiveness is and what it means to you.
Just like any spiritual practice, learning to forgive is a choice. Like all choices, there are consequences, positive and negative, that result from your choices. Choosing to hold on to hurts from the past and all its accompanying bitterness, resentment, guilt, blame and pain may create an illusion of personal safety and power, but the cost you pay in your physical, mental, relational and spiritual well-being is great.
You already suffered the sting of hurtful words or actions once. Why suffer the far greater fallout of your ongoing bitterness and negativity?
Why carry negative feelings for years and years, even after the other person is gone? When you resist forgiving others, you hold onto pain and keep giving your energy to the past.
You can be sure that lots of depressed, angry, unhappy people are harboring unforgiveness over wrongs committed against them.
The personal consequences of unforgiveness toward oneself or another are many.
Why forgive? Learning to forgive is powerful. Forgiving yourself and others helps you gain new understandings, heal your perceptions, and your relationships.
Being free of grudges increases your happiness. You reclaim all the energy you were using to keep your resentments alive. Once released, that fuel becomes available for healing, pleasure, and your life goals. Along with your physical and mental energy, your vibrational energy frequency also increases, making you feel happier, more balanced, and more open to the good things the universe has to offer.
You only win when you forgive.
A friend of mine used to say that when you point a finger at someone, you should look at the three fingers pointing back at you. His illustration summed up the law of attraction and harmonic or vibrational resonance perfectly.
Your subconscious mind sends out a frequency that attracts a resonant frequency.
The Bible says, "Judge not that you be not judged," and "As you sow, so shall you reap." How about the Lord's prayer in which we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others? These are all law of attraction teachings that demonstrate how the energy we put out is the energy we attract.
Why forgive? Forgiving others and forgiving yourself releases you from the torturer in your mind. It allows you to accept and vibrate with the positive energies of love, health and joy.
As I observe myself walking the spiritual path, I discovered something else. When I would build a wall between myself and another, a wall was also build between myself and all others, including the Divine. There is no way around this.
If you want to experience the power of spiritual wellness in your life, you have to learn to forgive others and yourself. If you want to understand the mindset of happy people, and experience authentic happiness for yourself, you will find letting go of the past and releasing hurts and grudges near the top of the list.
This is not to say that you have to like everyone or be their friend or even ever see them again. It does not mean you free them from the natural consequences of their actions. It only means you have freed them and yourself from the negative bond between you. And perhaps, new doors may open to a new and better relationship between you.
But most of all, as you let go of those chains that bind, you will come to realize that the true power of learning to forgive and keeping a clean slate is that the person you really set free is yourself.
Learning to Forgive page updated 10/2019
Quotes about Moving On - Read inspirational quotes to help you to find constructive ways to move on after a broken relationship, a death, or the loss of a job, and to build a great new life.Source:Let it rest: Sleep and health as positive correlates of forgiveness of others and self-forgiveness