I cannot forgive him/her, what difference does it make anyway?
As a clinician I hear people say I can’t forgive them on an almost daily basis.
Part of the difficulty people often have with forgiveness is due to the fact that few understand what forgiveness really means. Confusion over the differences between forgiving, forgetting and condoning add unnecessarily to the suffering.
Why is forgiving so important?
Holding on to anger, and/or baring a grudge sap your energy and can hijack the ability to experience joy and happiness. These negative feelings can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental wellbeing. We forgive for OUR OWN benefit, NOT for the benefit of the perpetrator.
No one disputes that you were wronged, you suffered a grave injustice but let’s look at the whole matter of injustice for a moment.
Injustice and compassion
All living things on this planet are still evolving, including humans. Evolution is a very slow process. Furthermore, evolution is not a linear process. A species does not suddenly evolve/change overnight. A few within that species mutate first, then a few more, over tens of thousands of years the species decides that mutation is a useful way to go and they all eventually catch up, this process can take hundreds of thousands of years. Given this fact and that humans are evolving it means some of us are more evolved than others (not better or worse, just more evolved, luckier perhaps). As long as evolution continues in such a way and some humans are more evolved than others, how can we ever really expect justice? It is impossible! Injustice is, therefore, an inescapable truth of life.
Trying to combat injustice with any form of revenge, just serves to exacerbate the problem because revenge is a violent act (not necessarily physical) and violence will always increase the cycle of violence. Compassion is the only answer.
“The moment you allow someone else’s poor behaviour to make you respond poorly yourself, you have given away all your power” Katherine Woodward Thomas
How does this knowledge help?
If you have truly grasped that whilst evolution continues, justice is impossible (at least for the foreseeable future) then you will have started to develop compassion for those less evolved that yourself.
Hopefully and most importantly you will begin to realize that whatever another has done to you, it was not as personal as you thought, they are simply less evolved than you.
An injustice can only keep hurting you as long as you continue to take it personally.
If you are struggling to let go of resentment and find peace, contact us for help now
So what is Forgiveness? How do I forgive?
Forgiveness is in part “giving up the hope of a different or better yesterday”
Most people seem to convert the word forgive into the word condone. They are NOT the same thing.
Forgive is defined as “to cease to feel resentment against” an offender.
Condone is defined as “to treat as if trivial, harmless, or of no importance”.
While it is common for people to hold a grudge when they have been wronged, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that unresolved anger is bad for your physical and mental health. It may be impossible and even undesirable to forget what happened, but granting forgiveness can also provide you with many benefits.
What is forgiveness? A popular definition holds that when you forgive, you simply write off any debt that you feel is owed to you. In other words, it is a decision, made to benefit YOURSELF. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person!
Forgiveness is an action, not a feeling! You cannot feel forgiveness until you do it.
Many people say “I can’t forgive him/her, I don’t feel it” To which we say: of course not. You cannot feel something you have not done.
A feeling of forgiveness can result only from the action of writing or verbalizing the forgiveness (but NOT to the person concerned unless they have specifically asked for forgiveness and you are comfortable to so do). Action first, feeling follows.
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