Forgiveness isn’t easy for us humans. Our awareness and understanding of how others mistreat us and the affect their actions can have, often makes it difficult. If we are harbouring anger or resentment it can lead to issues such as depression, drinking problems or relationship breakdown.
Whether it’s a partner who has betrayed us, a colleague who’s undermined us or parents who mistreated us, our happiness relies on resolving these issues and moving on. To do this, we must cultivate the art of forgiveness.
These pointers will help you make a start….
Start small – before we can forgive larger transgressions, it’s helpful to practise with smaller ones. Perhaps someone pushes in front of you in a queue or fails to hold the door open. Maybe a friend makes a sly remark or fails to help you out in a time of need. Practise forgiving in situations like this and it will become second nature.
Practice empathy – an important step in forgiveness is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider all the possibilities and factors that may have influenced their actions. This isn’t to say that we make excuses for them, but nothing in life is black and white and everyone has their own flaws. Once we understand the situation or events that may have contributed to their actions, they start to feel less personal and malicious.
Gain perspective – if this issue is occupying your thoughts on a regular basis or causing you a lot of stress or anxiety, this issue needs to be dealt with. In this way, the person is still causing you harm. In the grand scheme of things, is this event big enough to occupy this much of your time? Forgiveness is the tool that allows you to renew strength and untie your connection with the person or event. At the end of the day, the only person hurt by holding a grudge, is you.
Focus on gratitude – it can be difficult but try replacing resentment with gratitude. Did the person you are angry at ever do anything good for you? Has anything good at all come out of the situation? If not, what else are you grateful for? Think about this every day, especially when you feel anger or resentment brewing.
Diffuse anger – anger needs to be fed to survive and by refusing to feed it, you are retaking control. When you feel yourself getting angry or resentful, try diffusing the situation with humour or more pleasurable activates. You might try exercise, cooking or even meditation.
Support – surround yourself with people you trust and who make you happy, Find yourself a safe space where you can foster positive thoughts and behaviours. A strong support system including a therapist or social support group can help you work through the process.
Acceptance – when you feel ready, you can decide to accept the things that happened in the past, process your feelings about them and choose to move on. This isn’t to say that you will never think about them again, but you should feel free of the negative emotions that once held you back and in a more positive, strong position to continue with your life.
When we practise the art of forgiveness we can improve the way we think, feel and live our lives. Forgiveness isn’t the same as not caring or letting others treat you poorly. It’s a thoughtful and deliberate process of understanding, acceptance and moving on. It relieves stress and anxiety and puts you back in control of your own well-being.
Forgiveness can be granted to people still in our lives, those who are no longer with us or even to ourselves. Each case will involve different processes or complexities, but I help many clients move on from difficult situations.
If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you learn the art of forgiveness and move on with your life, please do get in touch.