Forgiveness. The word alone can make people cringe at the thought and shutter with resistance. It’s been said that forgiveness is not about accepting the actions of another that you are enraged about, rather, forgiveness is a tool to set yourself free from the mental torture of playback and thoughts that repeat a story that offends your boundaries.
Forgiveness is truly about restoring your emotional state by suggesting more positively feeling thoughts in place of where negative ones used to be when the thought of the offense arises.
It is within using this tool that one learns how to find acceptance and break the cycle of replaying scenarios, harboring resentment, and easing the burdens that all humans carry along their path.
While conceptually, forgiveness seems easy, actually making it a practice to benefit your own self growth can feel really, really tough.
Forgiveness is about learning to create empathy or compassion for the offense that occurred. This does not mean acceptance or creating a space that voids the perpetration.
It may feel really difficult to bring yourself to find feelings of forgiveness for the scenarios where you were wronged. If you have been harboring a perpetration for some time, your hold on to how you’ve been offended may feel tough to edge in a bit of forgiveness.
Many people believe that not forgiving is a form of punishment that should be upheld. The belief is that if ‘I am angry then they are suffering.’ But the truth is that anger only harms the person it lives within. It’s also important to understand that forgiveness does not mean acceptance. It does not excuse behavior of mistreatment or any actions which have crossed your personal boundaries. In truth, forgiveness is an opportunity to reaffirm the boundaries that keep you safe and create more moments of tranquility in your head and your heart.
So what does practicing forgiveness actually look like?
Think of forgiveness as a muscle. The more you begin to utilize it, the more your ability to find peace with it expands. It’s best to begin slowly and consciously. As with your physical muscles, your ability to find moments of forgiveness, ultimately leading to more personal moments of freedom from negative thought, will grow with practice.
How to begin:
Take a deep breath. Resistance easily creeps in when forgiveness begins to emerge. Remember, forgiveness allows you to rewrite your inner monologue so that it includes more peaceful moments within.
Remember forgiveness begins when empathy and compassion can be formed.
In order to start your practice, try to view the scenario with that in mind. Are you able to find some empathy for what has occurred? Compassion and empathy, even the tiniest bit, can offer a small shift in perspective so that human connection can spark.
If creating space for compassion and empathy for the scenario are out of the question it may be helpful instead to turn that empathy inward. Perhaps assigning meaning to your suffering may help you cultivate more compassion for yourself. It may even be helpful to picture yourself standing in front of yourself and embracing the vision of you in an all accepting hug.
Call in support and surround yourself with forgiving people. Begin to recognize forgiveness in others and align yourself with those who can support an attitude of growth rather than energy of bitterness.
As you begin your practice of forgiveness you will notice that more moments to practice arise. Consider this an opportunity to make a small shift in your thought. The more you practice the ability to find forgiveness through empathy and compassion with little things, the more you will notice that your happiness will increase.
Forgiveness is not acceptance. It’s merely a chance to shift what’s in your own head and heart so you can free yourself of thoughts that incite unfavorable feelings within.
Creating states of empathy can help reconnect with compassion for yourself and others that will ultimately help to create more moments of perspective. Ultimately, forgiveness is a tool to free yourself of the burdens that are carried when there is an interference with your internal peace.
Ready to begin to share your story so you can create more peace in your life? Reaching out to a therapist is a great way to find more moments of joy for yourself. It’s a process, and we are here to help. Book your first appointment HERE.