We know that none of us is perfect, so why do we sometimes forget that when someone wrongs us? It’s oh so easy to blame, get angry or feel resentment when these occurrences happen, but who is it that really suffers in this situation? We should never underestimate the importance of forgiveness and the power it has.
You can probably think of some incidents in your life where someone upset you or made you angry, we all have them. The odd thing is, it’s likely you can still feel the emotion it caused, as though it’s happening to you now.
That feeling has been stored in your subconscious and when you just think about the event, you’re immediately transported back to it and feel the negative emotions all over again, and again, and again! Just think how powerful those feelings are – in a negative way.
Why Should I Forgive?
Rather than ask why you should forgive, perhaps you should ask why you shouldn’t? That might help you to see the situation differently, although it might not make you think differently. What I mean is, if you look at something from a different perspective, you may see it in a completely new way.
Before I continue, I think it important to acknowledge that it’s understandable why it might feel almost impossible to forgive, depending on how bad the wrongdoing against you is.
Why would a person want to forgive someone who’d caused them extreme pain or worse? Having said that, some people do and usually do so to take control – control of the hurt and negativity that’s eating them up.
Not Forgiving can Cause Harm
Our thoughts are powerful and by not forgiving someone for something they’ve done, you’re harbouring negative thoughts which are not good for you. Carrying these thoughts will put you into a frame of mind that’s will generate a negative way of looking at things.
Once the negativity is entrenched within you, it will become a part of you. It can become a part of everything you approach, your outlook on life and even your personality.
If this happens, you’ve allowed another person’s actions to cause you to change, and not in a good way. Having a negative outlook on life will bring more negativity to you, because your thoughts will attract like thoughts to you, that’s how the Law of Attraction works.
The psychologist Everett L. Worthington, Jr spent his career studying forgiveness and wrote more than 30 books on the subject. He is a great believer in the importance of forgiveness and helped to develop the REACH Forgiveness method which is one of the most studied methods to promote forgiveness.
Forgive but don’t Forget
There should be no confusion, in that forgiving doesn’t mean you should forget. After all, if someone has hurt you, it’s unlikely you’ll ever forget it, but forgiving is different.
Forgiving is not about the person who has wronged you, it’s about you. In other words, it’s about not harbouring the hurt and anger within yourself because that can do you no good. The other person may have caused you to feel those emotions, but you, not they, control you.
To forgive, is not letting the person off, it’s releasing the negative emotions resulting from the action. When you do that, you are controlling the effect of the hurt caused to you. You’re not forgetting the wrong doing or excusing it, you’re acknowledging it happened and choosing to move on.
Think of it this way: if you hang on to the hurt, the other person is probably not that affected, but you are. You’re putting yourself into a prison in your mind where there’s no chance of release unless you do it yourself. It’s almost as if you’re doing time for the person who hurt you. There’s no need to forget the pain caused, but don’t become a prisoner of your own making.
The Importance of Forgiveness of Yourself
What if the tables are turned and you hurt someone else in some way, would you want to be forgiven? Of course you would. You might not expect it, but you’d most likely want it. Thinking in this way does help to put the act of forgiving into a different perspective.
When you’ve hurt someone, assuming you’re sorry you did so, you should forgive yourself otherwise you’ll be carrying a feeling of guilt. This will further weigh you down, adding to the feeling of being an unworthy person. Dealing with guilt can be extremely difficult but it can be done.
It’s not a case of “letting yourself off”, you should acknowledge you’ve done wrong and try your best to make amends. This will help to alleviate the guilt and allow you to learn an important lesson.
Self-forgiveness can be as difficult as forgiving someone else because it can cause a feeling of unworthiness and therefore make you believe you don’t deserve it. We all make mistakes or regret doing certain things, it’s a human trait and you are no different.
Allow Yourself to Forgive
No matter how angry you feel, whether it’s with yourself or someone else, you have it within yourself to forgive. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they can’t ever forgive, but this isn’t really so. When they say “can’t” what they really mean is “won’t” or “don’t want to”. That may sound harsh, but it’s a fact.
By not forgiving, you are holding yourself as the victim by blaming the emotions you feel on an outside source – another person. It’s you who feel your emotions and you have the power to change them. Again, harsh, but true. I’m not saying the hurt or pain will disappear, but it belongs to you even though someone else caused it.
It’s similar with forgiving yourself for something. You blame yourself for feeling bad, but you have the power to change that. Accept responsibility for what you’ve done, learn from it and move on. Dwelling on it and beating yourself up won’t change things, other than making it worse for you and no one will gain from that.
Realise that what happened in the past will always be there, but you don’t have to live there. You are in the present, the hear and now, that’s where your focus should be, because this is the place where your thoughts are creating your future. That’s the importance of forgiveness and the reason you should consider embracing it.