Sage also shares a lot of kind advice over at her blog. I'd highly recommend checking her out!
Honor Yourself By Choosing To Forgive
Guest post by Sage Grayson from Sweet and Sage
I’d like to start this post by asking you to think about something that happened to you that you feel is completely unforgivable.
What was the situation? Who was involved? How did you feel afterwards?Perhaps someone stole from you, or destroyed a priceless possession, or spread vicious rumors about you.Maybe you suffered emotional cruelty, physical abuse, or rape.It might not seem like it now, but choosing to forgive the person who did that deplorable thing to you is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself.Forgiveness is not about changing the other person, getting them to apologize, or making them feel as terrible as they made you feel.It is about honoring yourself and choosing love and compassion over hate and anger.Excuses We Use to Avoid Forgiveness
- They were wrong. This might be true. The other person might have done something truly horrific to you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone what they have done; it means that you will not continue to be the victim long after the actual event.
- They don’t deserve it. They probably don’t deserve your forgiveness, but being forgiving isn’t about them. By choosing to forgive, you are doing something kind for yourself.
- I don’t want to let go of my anger. I really get this. Sometimes it feels like our anger and hurt is the only thing we can hold on to. The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Let it go.
- They’re dead or I don’t know where they are. The person who wronged you doesn’t have to be close by or alive for you to forgive them. Even if they are still in the picture, I urge you NOT to go up to them and say, “I forgive you for [lying to me, burning down my house, etc.].” Forgiveness is personal and should be experienced by yourself.
- They wouldn’t forgive me. Maybe you both were wrong. Friendships can end when both parties feel like the other person is to blame. Even if they won’t forgive you for your part of the mess, you can still focus your energy on forgiving them.
Benefits of Forgiveness
- Less stress. You might actually feel your chest open up when you forgive someone. It may feel like you can take a full breath for the first time in years. Imagine how much less stressed you’ll be when you stop reliving the other person’s transgression in your mind over and over again.
- More happiness. This should be obvious, but when you remove hatred and anger from your life, you create an open space where happiness can come in. Perhaps you never enjoyed your job because you couldn’t forgive a coworker for “stealing” a promotion you wanted. When you let go and forgive, you can experience all the good things about your current job and be happy with where you are right now.
- Peace to move on. Whenever I forgive someone, I feel at peace. This serenity allows me to leave that unfortunate experience behind me and move on to better things.
- Learning a life lesson. No one wants to experience hurt, but by choosing forgiveness, you can see it as an opportunity to learn. For instance, if you are forgiving an abusive ex-spouse, you are also learning to trust your instincts and be aware of “red flags” in future relationships.
- Growing and being the bigger person. OK, this is the self-righteous reason to forgive someone. When you are forgiving, you can feel good with the knowledge that you are the bigger person by being open to love and forgiveness. Many people refuse to forgive, so be proud that you’ve made this choice.
There’s no right or wrong way to forgive someone, but I caution you against confronting the person you want to forgive. It doesn’t matter if that person wants your forgiveness or if they think they’ve done nothing wrong.
In my experience, forgiveness is more meaningful when you go through the process on your own.
- Write a letter. Write a letter to the person you want to forgive. Be as detailed as you want. Get all of your anger and hurt feelings out of you and onto the paper. When you are finished, fold up the paper and write “I forgive you” on the outside. Then burn the letter, shred it, bury it in the backyard, or otherwise dispose of it. You are in fact disposing of the burden that has been holding you down.
- Perform a ritual. You might already know a forgiveness ritual or practice from your own religion. If not, here’s a simple one. Sit at a table and put a candle in the center of the table. Light the candle and look at the flame while saying, “[Person’s name], I forgive you for [blank]. I let go of my [anger, sadness, whatever emotions you are feeling]. I wish you peace, and I release you.” Say as much as you need to say until you feel calm and content. Then blow out the flame. Imaging your bad feelings leaving your life as the smoke blows away.
- Meditate. Sit somewhere quiet and focus on the bad situation. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. On the exhale, visualize the bad memories/feelings flowing out of you. Imagine the picture in your mind getting smaller and dimmer with each exhale until you feel ready to forgive and let go. Sit and focus on opening your heart and mind to forgiveness and filling the space inside you where the bad memories once were.
Brittany's Note: At the end of her post Sage offered ways to forgive. She asked that I include my own recommendations as well. I believe that her advice on how to forgive is very applicable to Christians, just with a small modification. I would recommend prayer and meditation on God's word on the subject. It was so lovely to share in a conversation on this subject.
Has this post impacted you? Is there someone you need to forgive? I know Sage and I would love to hear your input on this subject.