From Forgiveness to Freedom
Most of us have been at some point hurt, insulted, betrayed or disappointed by others. But while those, who treated us poorly, may have forgotten all about us and moved on, we often continue to suffer from the pain they caused us. Our minds replay the past injustices over and over again, trying to find answers for plaguing questions such as “why” and “why me.” To not get hurt and rejected again we make ourselves smaller, become more guarded and are less willing to trust. And while resentment and anger can give us a sense of power and righteousness, ultimately these emotions keep us glued and stuck to the past. At some point we may perceive ourselves as powerless victims, unable to shake off the negativity others subjected us to.
The obvious questions is, if we know that we have been wronged and that we deserve better, why do we continue to give our energy and power to those, who didn’t have our best interest in mind?
Forgiving and letting go seems the only sensible choice, yet for many it appears impossible even to consider. What holds us back, besides the fact that we don’t necessarily know how to go about it, are the following six common misconceptions around forgiveness.
- Condoning hurtful behavior
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we are agreeing with what he or she did to us. Forgiveness is essentially an act of self-care, because we are freeing ourselves from the negative impact of other people’s actions.
- Forgetting what happened
Forgiveness works best, when we are willing to learn from the past and recognize what the hurt others caused us can teach us about ourselves and about them. As we are learning from the past, we are not dismissing the past, but we are outgrowing it.
- Opening up to more hurt
When we proactively forgive, we are creating a complete separation from those, who have betrayed or disappointed us – and those who could potentially do the same in the future. As we establish these clear boundaries, we move beyond the role of the powerless and confused victim.
- Restoring trust
When we realize that we don’t have to any longer hold on to people’s negativity, we are restoring trust within ourselves. We thus gain more clarity and confidence on who we want to connect in the future and who we want to stay away from.
Besides learning from the past, another key aspect of true forgiveness is to utilize the healing power of compassion for ourselves and for those, who hurt us. Shifting from pain and resentment into a place of compassion and understanding is a sign of enormous courage and strength. Compassion can also serve as a “protective force filed,” because it prevents us from taking other people’s choices personally.
Forgiveness isn’t just a quick and simple letting go and leaving the past behind. Forgiveness is an organic healing process, which takes time and energy to complete.
First and foremost we need to realize that this process is mainly for and about us, because we are liberating ourselves from the consequences of other people’s behavior. Then we need to be open to replace self-limiting hurt and anger with learning and growth. The final step of forgiveness requires us to open our hearts and tap into compassion for ourselves and everyone involved. The moment we are able to remove the walls that guarded our hearts, we have reclaimed our wholeness and released those, who challenged it in the past.
Listen to my recorded episode on Empowerment Radio to learn more about this experience for yourself.