I’m not a forgiving person by nature. I take hurt very personally and tend to proclaim people “dead to me” if they have wronged me. Once you have hurt, deceived or betrayed me, I typically cut you out of my life. In my experience, there usually is no coming back from the grave. I hold grudges and I wear pain like a scarlet letter. Over the past few months, I’ve been working on healing and purging myself of all the pain, hurt and heartache I have experienced over the past few years. As I stated in my last blog, the weight of carrying so much negative emotion while wearing the “I’m just fine” mask began to weigh me down and I was emotionally and mentally tired. I was tired of holding on to it all. I realized that I am a person that holds on to negative experience like a badge of honor. Holding on to certain experiences allowed me to put up a wall, numb my heart and hopefully, prevent pain. Pain is very traumatic and can force you to go through life in a perpetual state of PTSD, constantly on guard for possible “triggers” and “red flags”. This “PTSD” state stifles our personal growth and the ability to engage in more meaningful and healthy relationships. We become extremely guarded and mistrusting as a result. It’s no wonder relationships are so mixed up nowadays; how many of us are walking around traumatized and suffering from PTSD from past relationships and experiences?
There have been moments in my life that have caused me heartache, devastation and unspeakable pain. As I began the journey towards mending a broken heart and weary spirit, I realized my only job was to heal. Forgiving those who have hurt or caused me harm was an essential part of that process. In order to grow out of the pain, I had to take the time to forgive the person or situation that inflicted it. Forgiveness allows us to release the negative emotions such as hurt, anger or bitterness while improving our attitude and improving mental health. In her book, “Prince Harming Syndrome”, which explores ending the cycle of unhealthy relationships, author Karen Salmansohn offers 8 ways to forgive:
- Say a prayer for the offender, pray for them to find their way back to a happier place
- Focus on Gratitude from the inside out. Stop seeking happiness from the outside.
- Look for the lesson by asking yourself what did you need to learn in this experience?
- Maintain perspective by reminding yourself this is not your entire life just merely a moment in it.
- Learn the lesson and resist the temptation to play the “victim”.
- Let go of resentment and take back control of your emotions.
- Stay Centered and choose to resist becoming like the one who caused you hard
- Get revenge positively by living a successful happy life
Previously, I believed the act of forgiveness meant that I was letting go of the fact that a person or situation hurt me, as if what happened to me was ok. What I understand now is that the act of forgiveness does not absolve the offender of their guilt. Too often people assume forgiveness means absolving the offender from the responsibility of causing you harm or pain. Absolution is defined as release from guilt, obligation, or punishment. It is not our job to absolve one of their guilt. Our only job is to grow and heal from it and release ourselves from the weight that the offense caused. We do not owe those that offend us anything, not even absolution. Instead, I can only pray that the offender can forgive themselves and grow from the experience and become better. Forgiveness allows you to reclaim your power from the individual or situation that caused you pain. What hurt you no longer controls you or your emotions; forgiveness is taking your power back.
Forgiveness is a selfish act because it really isn’t about the person or situation that caused you pain but it’s more about freeing yourself from the burden of carrying around that pain. Forgiveness is one of the first practices in “self-care” that you can do as you begin this journey toward healing. It allows you to acknowledge what has happened to you but to choose not to be changed or defined by it. Too often we allow pain to control us and our emotions and change who we are at our core. Forgiveness gives you power. It allows us to take control over your own emotions and frees you to live authentically in your own truth instead of wearing the “I’m over it” mask. It allows you to approach each new situation, experience or relationship from a place of openness instead of guarded. It opens you up to the possibility of experiencing something to bring you joy, peace and love. Forgiveness is the gift of freedom and it’s the first gift you should give to yourself as you heal. I encourage you to take a moment to write down things that require your forgiveness and begin the work in letting go of the hurt, pain and trauma in your life. Practice some self-care by forgiving someone today.
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