Learning to forgive is a really difficult thing to do for a lot of us, and I’m no exception. Historically, I always had a really hard time with the idea that I should have to forgive people who hurt me… even when they were patently in the wrong and I didn’t do anything!
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. The emotional trauma of the incident combined with outrage at the injustice and unfairness of it all… it rankles to have to think that we should forgive someone who put us through so very much. Sometimes the incidents in question are big ones. Perhaps there was real abuse. There are any number of things that could be lurking around – shadows of the past that still haunt us to this very day.
And that, right there, is the very reason why learning to forgive is such a critical thing, not only for our mental health, but for our very futures: all of these things are in the past. And when we keep our death grip on them by refusing to forgive, we keep reliving the old hurt over and over again. We bind ourselves with chains of steel to the pain, and we are stuck – unable to move forward in our lives because of it.
Learning to forgive allows us to dissolve those bonds to the past. It allows us to finally let go of pain, let go of hatred, let go of fear. It allows us to finally start living again.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the ones being forgiven… in all likelihood they really don’t give a damn one way or the other. But it has everything to do with the one doing the forgiving. It’s a cleansing of the spirit; a release of burden; and choice for a better tomorrow, untainted by the darkness of the past.
Learning to forgive does not mean condoning a hurtful action or forgetting what was done. But it does mean letting go of it and taking the responsibility for creating your own future and deliberately choosing joy over bitterness.
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