Let me start by asking a question - Where has not forgiving someone gotten you? If you've been badly hurt by someone in the past then it's normal to find it hard to forgive, but not forgiving only holds you back. Think about it...when you can't forgive someone you hold on to anger, bitterness and resentment.
You might even still want revenge for how you were hurt. In the previous post we talked about finding sympathy for the abuser instead. Finding forgiveness is taking the next step beyond that. Forgiving is important for you to be able to live the life you deserve to have.
Of course, this isn't to say that it's easy. But forgiveness is a choice and I want to tell you why it's an important one. Learning to forgive might be the most important thing you can do for yourself. In my opinion, finding forgiveness is a final step in recovery. It will help you move past all the negative emotions you're feeling. Even if you're feeling skeptical right now about the possibility of forgiveness, hear me out on this one.
I will say that forgiveness is not right for everyone at any given time.
You have to be in a place where you can even consider it. It took me up until last year to really "get" forgiveness in such a way that I was able to set myself free by forgiving the people who bullied me. I also realized that it was even more important for me to forgive myself. I blamed myself for being bullied and that was eating away at me. I realized I was being too hard on myself and that it wasn't doing me any good, so I let it go.
It's the realization that is key and I want to help you realize why forgiveness is important so that you don't hold yourself back any longer than you need to. Much like learning to let go of anger or bitterness or feeling sympathy, forgiveness isn't for them, it's for you!
Forgiveness Doesn't Require The Other Person
You can take comfort in the fact that you don't even have to tell them that you've forgiven them. If you still have contact with the person who hurt you and if it would help you to tell them, then by all means tell them. All I'm saying is that it's not necessary. I haven't seen the people who bullied me since the day I left that school, but I don't need them to know how I feel. This isn't about making them feel better (if they even care).
Forgiving Without An Apology
Most of the time you have to forgive when there isn't even an apology. You have to accept the fact that there will probably never be one. But that's okay, too. Waiting for an apology only keeps the ball in their court. You have to take charge of your own recovery. Forgiveness does not require an apology. If you've been wronged then there is a place for forgiveness.
Forgiveness Doesn't Mean Accepting Or Forgetting
I am by no means telling you to accept what happened to you. That would be unacceptable. Just because you shouldn't accept what happened doesn't mean you can't forgive it, though. But when we are saying we forgive, it means that we have reached a point where we are ready to let it go.
But what is it we're letting go of exactly?
Forgiving means acknowledging that we were hurt and that we suffered a loss. It's also realizing that we can't get it back. That may be time, experiences, relationships, or whatever. But that's part of the process because whether we forgive or not, we aren't going to get back what we lost anyway. By forgiving, though, we can still have a future that isn't sacrificed for the past.
Forgiving also doesn't mean forgetting. It's like when someone you care about dies. You have to eventually move on with your life but you don't have to forget about them. You should remember what happened to you so that you can use it in a positive way. And then when you think about it in the future, you won't feel the same negative feelings you used to before.
But, Really, Why Is Forgiveness So Important?
Well, if you want to experience a full and happy life like you deserve then it is important. Would you drive around with a flat tire? Probably not so why go through life holding on to a hurt? Sure, you can still get around, but it's going to be a bumpy ride. Just change that tire, just forgive, and you'll see how much smoother your ride through life will be.
Forgiveness is going to be important for your overall well-being. I'm a big believer in taking care of overall well-being, because it's hard to function properly if you don't. After you forgive you'll find that you'll just feel better. It'll be like a weight has been lifted. You'll sleep better, you'll be happier, and you'll give your wounds a chance to heal. I think you'll find that it's worth it.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a lifelong victim.
Forgiving Isn't Easy
I mentioned back in the beginning of the post that forgiving isn't easy, and I'll say it again. Don't let that discourage you though. Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I think it's definitely worth the effort.
You have to look at forgiveness as a process. You can't just decide today that you're going to forgive and then it happens. It does take time. After all you've been hurt for longer than a day. It is a process you can decide to start today, though. In the next post I'm going to talk about exactly how you can forgive. It's okay if you're not ready yet. Maybe you don't think you'll ever be ready. All I'm saying is that it should remain a possibility, because you deserve that.
Don't Forget To Forgive Yourself
Often times when we've been a victim of a trauma, such as bullying, we tend to blame ourselves for what happened. I know that I did. I absolutely blamed the bullies, but I was probably more upset with myself than I was with them. Funny how that happens.
If you blame yourself in any way for what happened then you need to make sure that you take the time to forgive yourself. Let yourself off the hook. You were probably a kid when it happened. Sure there were things you could've done, but could you have, really? You were probably too paralyzed by fear or shame to do anything. That's okay. That's not your fault.
I've put this section at the end of the post, but it's probably more important to forgive yourself than it is to forgive others.
This is about helping yourself out, anyway. At the end of the day it's about liking the person you see in the mirror. You have to do what you can live with, but I believe that it's important to find forgiveness for yourself (by forgiving yourself and them). I hope this post has helped you realize that. I started this post with a question and now I'd like to end with one - Will not forgiving do you any good?
Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any stories or questions.
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