The Power of Forgiveness
Forgiving someone who has hurt us can be tough. Strategic Intervention Life Coach Sylwia Borowy reflects on why forgiveness is important – for us.
Forgiving someone who has hurt or harmed us can be really hard, especially if they haven’t admitted to doing wrong, or if we still love them.
But when we forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that we accept their treatment of us; that their bad behaviour was right. Forgiveness is not an excuse for the behaviour or actions that hurt us.
Forgiving also doesn’t mean that we forget what happened. We acknowledge the past. It did happen. We acknowledge that we feel hurt by the actions of others, and that they are accountable for those actions. Forgiving is not about forgetting.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that we need to be friends with them either, or even stay in contact. But we do wish them a good future. Only then can we know that we have truly forgiven.
Sometimes the hardest part of forgiving, is to forgive ourselves
Often we blame ourselves that we didn’t do enough to avoid unwanted situations. Let’s take responsibility and admit if we made mistakes. Let’s reflect on the lessons we learned. Not forgiving ourselves may lead to feelings of guilt, self-blame, self-pity, regret and even self-hatred. This way we punish ourselves. When we forgive ourselves, we feel more inner love. Forgiveness is an act of kindness toward ourselves.
By forgiving, we gain back control back over our lives, which we need to feel strong and happy. You see, when we feel anger, frustration, resentment, hate toward others, and when we blame them, they may not even know about it. When we continue holding those negative emotions – and perhaps having thoughts of revenge – we hurt ourselves, not them. With time, we may also develop stress, anxiety and depression.
Keeping the negative emotions inside influences our state of being – we are stuck in negativity. And so long as we are there, we cannot move forward, because our focus is on the problem.
The gifts of forgiveness
When we forgive, our focus shifts. Instead of thinking about the past, the hurtful situation, we pay more attention to the future, and steps we want to take. We start thinking how we can use this experience to improve our lives and the lives of other people.
This is why people do – and can forgive – even in the most extreme cases. In the past, I couldn’t understand how family members could forgive murderers of a loved one. Now, I understand it well: when we forgive, we free ourselves, our minds, from hostility, grudges and resentments.
As we forgive, our negative emotions are gradually be replaced by neutral, and hopefully with time, even positive emotions. We start feeling not only inner love, but also inner peace and hope. We start feeling happy again. As a result, our mental health improves. Forgiveness is a medicine for our suffering.
Believe it or not, many of us can come to feel grateful for those tough experiences (when we are ready). They often give us more wisdom and strength. Some of us even discover a new purpose in life. With training we can become experts in those fields, consultants, therapists or coaches. We can write articles or books for others, on how to avoid certain situations or how to handle those tough moments. We can set up a foundation, give public speeches, organize workshops, and more.
Forgiveness is a choice, and it brings strength and intelligence. As we start the journey to forgive, our wounds begin to heal.
Have you forgiven someone, and how has this affected your life? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sylwia Borowy is a Divorce Coach and Strategic Intervention Life Coach, educated through Robbins-Madanes Training. Her biggest passion is to help people transform their lives after divorce so that they can thrive again. Find her here.
PHOTO: Pexels/Nicollazzi Xiong