Forgiveness: A Gift We Give Ourselves
We would be forgiven for not including forgiveness as a gift we give ourselves. That is because when we think of gifts, what we usually think of are actual physical things.
When we think of gifts we typically think of the things we can add to our lives rather than of things to remove from our lives.
If we do think of the things we need to clear out from our lives, what we really focus on is the physical. Extra clothes, shoes, books- maybe even clean out our inbox.
Perhaps it has not occurred to us that there could be some emotional baggage that needs to go as well.
We carry around anger, hurt and resentment unconsciously.
We might not consider letting go of these toxic feelings as being something positive. Certainly, it might not occur to us that forgiveness can be a gift to give ourselves.
No doubt it is hard to imagine forgiving someone who has wronged and betrayed us. Especially if that person feels no guilt or remorse on his part. It is difficult to think that we can look at the them with anything other than hurt and contempt.
After all, when we forgive someone does it not mean that we have let him off the hook? When we offer our pardon does it not mean that somehow we have condoned his behaviour?
As punishment to him or any other who has broken our trust or violated our boundaries- would it not be fitting to hang on to our outrage and indignation?
Well, no actually.
You see, when you hang on to a grudge or anger towards someone, you are perpetuating a victim mentality. You were wronged and they are responsible. What you are doing here is giving away more of your power to them.
Forgiveness does not alter the facts and neither is it meant to. They still did you wrong and you are still traumatised about it. But imagine refusing to see yourself as a victim any more. Because, whether you are aware of it or not, playing the victim affects you in other ways as well. You might be using it as a crutch. An excuse not to move forward and grow. I know I have.
Here is what you might not know about forgiveness this gift that we can give ourselves:
It Sets You Free
No longer are you chained to the wrong you were done or the circumstances that caused it. You are free to direct your emotional energy to better causes. Letting go of resentment brings on a lightheartedness, a spring in your step even.
It Improves Your Mood
Because you have let go of all the angst and anger, your mood will naturally improve. When your mood improves you become a more pleasant person who people would like to hang around with.
Your Health Improves Generally
Because you are no longer venting and fuming, your blood pressure lowers. Your heart stops racing whenever you think of your ‘villain” and your stress levels – cortisol- goes down.
You take back your power.
Perhaps the nightmares stop or they don’t. Whatever the case, you have taken your reactions your responses your attitude back. You get to decide. And that is the biggest reward for forgiving someone. You press pause or even stop on the broken record in your head that says : I hate that conniving evil, sneaky, backstabbing, _______ person.
Who wants such negativity living in their head?
Or you can be the bigger person and sincerely forgive. And that’s the true measure of magnanimity.
The Hardest Thing
Probably the hardest thing for us to do is to forgive ourselves.
We are the harshest on own ourselves- we are our own worst critics. Because we hold ourselves to such high standards, we continue to punish ourselves willingly and sometimes unconsciously. Anytime we break our promises to ourselves, fail to meet a goal, make a mistake or miss a deadline, we beat ourselves up. We would not allow(I hope) someone else to treat us like that so the first person we need to treat better is ourselves.
You deserve a new chapter a fresh start. So go ahead- give yourself the gift of forgiveness.
” Be the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.” Ali Bin Abi Talib (Fourth Caliph of Islam)
” To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes (author and theologian)