So often we hold grudges or let the things that upset us on one day carry over into the next day, week, or even longer. I have learned a few things in life that are very important lessons:
- Forgiveness is for us, not them
- Holding onto anger only hurts us, not them
- Negativity blocks personal growth
These lessons have helped me in so many ways and I want to take a moment to share them with you. In life I have learned to make amends with people that I have hurt or wronged and forgive those who hurt me. In an article written by the Mayo Clinic forgiveness is clearly outlined as to what it is and how to practice this.
“Forgiveness means different things to different people. Generally, however, it involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help free you from the control of the person who harmed you. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.”
There are important things to remember. Forgiveness doesn’t guarantee reconciliation and it doesn’t guarantee a change in the person you are forgiving. What it does do is allow you to move forward in your own life. It keeps this particular issue from creeping into other relationships. It releases you from the anger and bitterness you hold within when carrying a grudge or resentment.
So how do you “Forgive” someone? As defined by the mayo clinic, forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change.” To do reach this state of mind there are several things you can do: :
- Recognize the value of forgiveness
- Identify what needs healing, who needs to be forgiven and for what
- Consider seeking outside help to move forward (counseling)
- Acknowledge your emotions and work to release them
- Choose to forgive – it is a choice and a conscious decision
- Move away from your role as victim – the person who has hurt or offended you does not control you or your emotions.
I have learned that no one can MAKE me feel sad or angry just as no one can MAKE me feel happy. These are choices. When I was a child and became angry or upset or even sad my mother would ask me to make a decision. She asked me to decide how long I wanted to feel that way. Maybe I wanted to be angry for an hour or even a day. Maybe I wanted to be sad for a few days. Either way, she would help me to set the time limit and at the end of the time limit, she would remind me of my decision to only be upset for the period of time and now I can choose a new feeling. This process has helped me so often in life. There are things I WANT to be upset about because I am not ready to process them and let go, but I realize I am only hurting myself.
Much like any addition we have, we use our feelings or substitute our feelings for actions such as drinking or something else. I learned that my addiction only allowed me to hide from my thoughts or feelings, but never made them go away and usually made them worse once the substance I used wore off. Facing my feelings and the issues I faced head on was much easier in the long run.
Many times our closest family and friends can cause us the most concern or worry. We love them the most and as humans we “want what we want” but cannot control what others do or say. So here we are with confused feelings that can lead to hurt relationships with those we love the most.
With forgiveness also comes acceptance. Forgiving someone also means you must accept that they are who they are and your forgiveness doesn’t require them to apologize or even change. That’s ok. Just remember if the person’s actions or words do not change, you are not required to keep them in your inner circle or even in your life.
Choosing to allow someone in your “world” is a choice only YOU can make. Not making a choice to change, walk away, or allow continued behavior is still a choice. You are responsible for yourself.
Love, Happiness, Joy, Anger, Hurt, or sadness are all things you have the ability to control and you can choose to feel these things or not.
As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.
In the end, you have the ability to forgive. You have the ability to change yourself and your own actions. We all deserve good days and happiness in our lives, but these are things we must decide to obtain.