Why forgiveness is for you (the forgiver) more than it is for them (the forgiven). This is a hard concept for many. I’ve heard countless times, “I can’t forgive them – they don’t deserve it,” “They did the unforgivable,” “How and why would you forgive them…”
Feelings of anger, bitterness, vengeance, rage, turmoil, sadness, grief…Those are your feelings; your wounds. Many injustices that you carry, affect you, and you alone. Often times the accused has moved on from a situation, not even giving it a second thought. And yet, here you are carrying this baggage that’s eating you alive – gnawing at your heart and soul.
Yet, when you can actually forgive, you release those toxins. You release that negativity from your soul. That is why forgiveness is important and that is why forgiveness is for you (the forgiver) and not them (the forgiven).
The reality is that it starts and ends with you. It has very little to do with the other person.
I know—this is hard to understand at first. But here’s the deal: what we hold onto within ourselves dictates our reality. Holding a resentment is like holding yourself hostage. Only you can release the prisoner, and (reality check) YOU are the prisoner.
We choose to forgive when we decide it’s more important to be happy than to be right. We choose to forgive when we decide we are ready to let ourselves be free.
I know this is provocative stuff. You might be thinking, “But wait, I was really, really wronged!”
And you’re right, you probably were.
Forgiveness is not about denying what was done to you. Quite the contrary, actually.
Forgiveness is about feeling the hurt, the pain, and the anger about what happened to you, and even amid all those feelings, making a choice to forgive.
Forgiveness is a decision.
“Step 1: Become Willing to Forgive.
Willingness means that you are open to the possibility of forgiving. You are OPEN to it. It is a possibility. It does not mean that all of the sudden, you’re over it. It does not mean you erase the past (which is actually just stuffing it into the unconscious—we already know this is a big no-no).
It just means that you consciously create within your mind (and heart) a space for the possibility of a new reality—the reality that you are no longer resentful; a reality that you have forgiven.
Step 2: Bring Your Resentments to the Surface.
Ask yourself, “Why am I angry?” Clearly pinpoint the feelings you are holding. You might want to make a list—how have you felt wronged or victimized? Just get clear.
Step 3: Distinguishing Soul from Ego.
This step is all about recognizing that we are all essentially good people who’ve been hurt, and because of this, we make mistakes and hurt others.
We have a true self, which is our inherent goodness (Soul), and a wounded self, which operates from fear (ego). It is your wounded self, not your true self, that hurts other people. This is true for everyone.
When we operate from our wounded self (out of fear and hurt), we hurt other people. And we’ve all hurt other people! Many of us have hurt people that we really love! This doesn’t happen because we’re bad. This doesn’t happen because we are flawed, or less-than, or just plain f-ed up!
It happens because we’re also hurt! And the same goes for anyone who has hurt you too. Anyone who hurts others is also hurting. Does this make it ok? Of course not! But it’s true, so it’s better to recognize it as a reality rather than staying caught in the illusion that certain people are evil.
Viewing others as “bad” calls for justification of anger and resentment; viewing others as wounded calls for compassion.
(Again, this isn’t easy, but it’s true.)
Step 4: Look at Your Part.
It’s time to look at your part and to take some personal responsibility. Ask yourself, “How have I brought pain to this person or situation? How have I done a similar thing that was done to me?” This can be hard to do, but it is so important.
Getting honest about your part in the situation is essential. Your part may be that you’ve done something similar to what was done to you (this is often the case, especially in our adult relationships).
Or your part may be that you’ve held onto your own anger and hatred against a certain person for a long time. (This might be the case for things that happened to you when you were young.)
Get as honest as you can. Go down your list, look at the specific things you listed, and ask yourself “Have I done a similar thing?” You might be surprised at what you find.
Step 5: Surrender.
Now you’ve done all the dirty work and it’s time to let your feelings change on their own time. All of the steps above will guide you towards a shift.
I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take, but I can tell you that if you intend for it to happen, it will. If you can, spend a few minutes each day going through these steps and see what changes.
You will forgive.
And when you do, everything else will change for you too.” ~Shelly Bullard
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