“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Well said! But can you really forgive me? Forgive someone who mistreated you? Forgive someone who lied and cheated on you? Religious philosophy amply encourages forgiveness. Can you?
The simple truth is that forgiveness is liberating. Forgiveness, the act of releasing pent-up emotion over a perceived or real situation, is soul-freeing. Mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing your anger to build, is a recommended choice of action.
Should we really forgive?
No one said that forgiveness would be easy. The magnitude of hurt and degree of pain inflicted can pierce daggers into our heart and sometimes deeply wound our soul. Feelings such as betrayal, resentment and even revenge may arise.
However, harbouring such feelings serves only to damage us further. This emotional state eventually affects our physical and spiritual states of being. Our blood pressure rises, we get headaches, suffer from insomnia, food binges and the list goes on and on. Our personal relationships and self-worth can also be affected.
The question is: is it all worth it? Is this anguish worth your holding on to your resentment and anger? It is not. When you are at that place of readiness, consider the importance and meaning of forgiveness for you. Think of the tangible benefits of letting go of such resentment.
How can we forgive and be forgiven?
- Acknowledge the hurt
Identify your feelings. Try to objectively decipher the facts and accept the wrongdoing. Try to understand what triggered the hurtful act.
- Understand that forgiveness occurs in stages
Much like grief, forgiveness occurs in stages, from denial, anger or aggression to sadness and eventual acceptance. Ride through each stage and go with the flow. Don’t fight the process, whether you’re the one forgiving or being forgiven.
- Make amends
Apologise. When you are ready and willing, be the bigger person and apologise for any words that were said out of hurt and anger, or for holding on to your resentment. This simple act can work wonders in rekindling a broken relationship.
- Pick your battles wisely
Sometimes it’s better to turn the other cheek. Save your energy for the battles that mean something to you. Just let it go.
- Ask for forgiveness
Break the chains and liberate yourself. As the adage goes, time heals all wounds. Even if you’re not the wrongdoer, the offer of empathy and compassion will spiritually auger well for you.
- Forgive yourself
Reflect on your mistakes. Try not to err on the same side twice. Remember that no one can love you like you can. Be your own ray of sunshine.
- Don’t dwell on the past
Once you’ve committed to forgiving, don’t look back with regret. That would sabotage your good intentions of moving forward.
- Think of the big picture
If all else fails, the Universe operates on unconditional love. We are a microcosm to that macrocosm. Karma knows your street name (kidding).
At the end of the day, I will forgive you because I value myself. I will forgive you because freedom is my infinite goal. I will forgive you because above all else, I value my spiritual self.