We always hear that it is better to take the high road and that forgiveness leads to happiness, which are two pieces of advice that I strongly vouch for. However, while we are constantly told when (always) and why (happiness) we forgive, we often miss the how to forgive part. How can we reach our destination if we do not know which path to take? It’s not as easy as receiving a hug from the one who stole your blocks and saying, “It’s okay…” that’s for sure.
Anyways, I would like to discuss my ideas on the ‘how’ part of forgiveness. Typically, I like to put things into categories because it helps keep my mind organized. However, I believe that it’s impossible to compartmentalize the different paths people take to reach complete forgiveness, because there are so many varying factors involved. With that being said, here are a few things I have learned during my journey to forgiving those that have hurt me:
- Forgiveness Starts with You
Ideally, those that cause the damage are the ones that reach out to help fix it first. Though, we all know that this is rarely the case. When it comes to forgiveness, you are the one that has to take hold of the situation because you are the only one in control of your emotions. Therefore ultimately, you are the only one that can change how you feel. If you can pin point exactly what you need in order be at peace with yourself, forgiveness will come easier. For some that’s a simple verbal acknowledgement of wrong doing. Others might need to see improvement made over time. Perhaps, neither is crucial for you, and the only thing necessary to move forward is knowing that the person who hurt you doesn’t have power over the choices you make. No matter what it is, I have learned that before I point a finger at the person that I believe is hindering my forgiveness, I must look within myself first, at ask: What exactly am I seeking from the one that hurt me? Am I even ready to forgive? Am I at a place where I can have a conversation with this person and have an open mind about differing perspectives?
- Forgiveness Takes Time
I’ve noticed when a strong emotion, positive or negative, hits me, my mind tends to not work properly. I’m either on Cloud 9 and believe that every little thing in life is a sunny masterpiece, or I’m sinking to the bottom of the ocean and view my surroundings as dark clouds. Over time though, the temperature changes, things become clearer and it might be easier to have a change of mind and to see things with a fresh perspective. I am a strong believer that time helps alleviate a lot of wounds. Now, I don’t think that time fully heals them, but from my experience, it does relieve the initial shock and pain that you feel. While the hurtful words are still remembered, maybe they don’t cut as deep anymore, and you can start constructing a way to forgive.
- Forgiveness does not have a Finish Line
I will be honest here, I have struggled for a while trying to organize my ideas and put them into succinct words for this forgiveness post. After some thought, I believe it was particularly challenging for me because I was unsure of where this writing would take me. I was unsure of what it might reveal that I didn’t know before. And I can say that after finishing this post, I have indeed learned something new. I have learned that forgiveness is not a destination that you work hard to reach, and then can walk away satisfied from. Forgiveness is a conscious, continuous choice. It’s like a waltz with no finale. There are times where you may feel like you are dancing in the same 4-step pattern, leading to frustration. There are times when you might be spinning and see some progress being made. However, there will be no final leap or dip, because true forgiveness means that you continue to dance. Though, now you are no longer worried about stumbling on your toes, because you are able to trust yourself and are at peace with those that hurt you.
Until next time,