Who do you need to forgive today? It is the season of gift giving. We are all busy thinking of the special gifts we are planning for those we love. Some may be finished with their shopping, while others (the procrastinaters among us) are barely beginning. Last week I wrote about wanting to give the gift of serenity. Today, I’m talking about giving yourself the gift of forgiveness. As you go about preparing for your particular holiday, perhaps you could make room for some quiet time to forgive anyone who has caused you some pain. This is not an easy task for many, including myself. However, holding onto anger and hurt does nothing to the person who has wronged you…chances are they don’t give your anger or pain a second thought. When we hold onto anger, we only hurt ourselves.
Forgiving is not the same as condoning the behavior that hurt us. It is not the same as allowing repeats of the same behavior. It simply means that we make a clear choice to accept that whatever the person did to wrong us, we are choosing to be gracious and kind. The graciousness and kindness allows us to leave the behavior in the past, instead of reliving it on a daily basis. It allows us to think about ways to be loving, with ourselves and others, instead of clinging to anger which only creates stress and hurts our own ability to be serene. I’m not suggesting that anyone should ever ignore their anger. Anger is a protective emotion, and it deserves our attention. But holding onto anger over a long period of time causes us to become ill. It weakens our immune system, it causes chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, and other stress related illnesses. If you are angry, find a way to express and process your anger. Do something active or proactive to make things different. Then, let the anger go. Don’t cling to it thinking you are protecting yourself, nothing could be more untrue.
Wikepedia says, “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.” The Mayo Clinic says, “Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.”
So, how do you go about forgiving someone? First, you need to understand the value of forgiveness to you. By holding a grudge and clinging to anger, you hurt yourself and may be damaging your other relationships. Invest some time reflecting on the facts of the situation, how your reactions have affected you, and how and why you would like to move forward. Look at what keeps you stuck in the victim role. Identify ways to free yourself of being a victim, and ways to empower yourself in the present and future. Most importantly, know that you do not have to ever condone the other person’s behavior in order to forgive. You just need to decide that you are more valuable than the wounding event, that you are not willing to let someone else’s actions keep you emotionally stuck.
Forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself. You deserve to be given all of the best gifts. If you are struggling with forgiveness of yourself or someone else, or if you think you could benefit from some professional help, call me at: 831-214-8087. I’m happy to help you find your way to forgiveness.
Wishing you forgiveness, the strength and clarity to be able to forgive, and joy during this holiday season.