All of us at one point in our lives have been hurt by the actions or words of another. Whether it was due to infidelity in a relationship, physical abuse or someone simply stepping on our foot while waiting in line at the grocery store, we all have contemplated if we should forgive those who have wronged us. According to author of Forgiveness Brings Freedom, Debbie Roome, “forgiveness is an act of pardoning a fault and in doing so, giving up resentment, hatred, wrath and all rights to restitution.” The concept is quite simple, excuse the errs of others so that you can relieve yourself of anger, hurt and stress in order to move forward with happiness and security.
While the idea behind forgiveness is simple, the reality of practicing it proves to be more difficult. This is because we make it hard on ourselves. You see, forgiveness is natural – just imagine a newborn baby. When a baby is born it has no sense of self. It readily forgives and forgets when subjected to harm, no matter who the source or whether their actions were intentional or not. It is only as we grow older do we learn to feel as though we are important (our ego) and that the world owes us something, especially when we feel we have been wronged. We learn what it feels like to have pain, hurt and resentment. We forger the natural instinct of forgiveness, believing that the pain we are suffering now is more important.
I know what you’re thinking…”Why should I forgive someone when he/she is the one who did me wrong?” Simply because forgiving others is NOT beneficial for other people. Its beneficial for YOU! Continuing to hold a grudge is like spilling boiling water on yourself, resulting in scars and pain, and expecting another person to feel your pain, apologize and help heal the wounds. You cannot grow, achieve goals and attain happiness if you are stuck in a state of mind that the world needs to apologize to you first. It doesn’t work that way. Catharine Ponder once said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” When you allow someone else to have such control over you, it’s impossible to achieve anything positive. You are giving someone else power over your mind, and ultimately the power to control your growth as a person.
Most people continue to hold on to resentment well into their adult life, some all the way to their coffin. Resentment is to repeatedly “resend” negative thoughts back to the mind. Most of us as adults are still reliving a childhood situation where we believe we were wronged. It’s the main reason people are so unwilling to and incapable of forgiving. We have to let go of those hurt feelings and forgive because when we constantly repeat those unconstructive thoughts which cloud our positive thinking we enable the worst to happen. We remain stuck in the cycle of reliving our pain and giving someone else power over ourselves. When we forgive and let go of that link we gain a relief of emotional and physical stress. We also receive freedom from the pain of the past, greater health and well being, and a greater happiness in the present as well as the future.
In order to move forward, we must forgive our faults as well as the faults of others. Begin by acknowledging the “wrong” or fault and understand the cause. Then, release the pain and emotional link to that person and/or situation associated with it by accepting what they did was wrong. Forgive and move forward with life. Discontinue dwelling on the past and instead look forward to a positive future. This process may take weeks, months or possible years, but forgiveness can be attained. We must remember since humans are not omniscient or infallible, mistakes are inevitable for all of us. When we understand and accept human infallibility, it becomes much easier to forgive the mistakes of others, as well as our own.