Forgiveness is highly misunderstood. Some use it to excuse toxic behaviour, some mock it and call those who forgive ‘push-overs’, but is that what forgiveness is? Something that hurts us? Not really. These are some important points about forgiveness that may clear up the fog and help you understand forgiveness better:
Who does forgiveness truly serve?
When we hold onto negative past experiences because they happened apologised or because you don’t believe they deserve your forgiveness, it builds up in our bodies. It turns to anger, bitterness, resentment and many more negative emotions. That weight we carry on our shoulders holds us back from letting that experience go and reopening our arms to life. When we refuse to forgive, we also leave room for those negative experiences to manifest as triggers we begin to see around us.
Let go. Release the pain. Holding on hurts you more than it ever bothers the people you’re choosing not to forgive. They played their cards and so did you. No matter how frustrating the outcome was, allow it to be what it was. Forgiveness actually serves you.
‘But I don’t want them to be left off the hook.’
Just because you forgave them doesn’t mean it never happened. Forgiveness and consequences aren’t mutually exclusive – There is a fine line between letting someone face the consequences of their actions and then assessing your relationship with them, if you wanted to change anything about it, and letting them off the hook. Being in denial of your pain by removing the consequences is when resentment starts to build and it may even lead them to take advantage of you.
You are allowed to set boundaries that help you feel safe; whether few or many, you get to decide how you want to let this person in again, should you choose to even maintain a relationship. The consequences they face are due to their own actions, and it’s how you protect your peace.
‘But what if I want to honour my grieving?’
You can be grieving an incident and still be forgiving. Like we said earlier, forgiveness doesn’t erase what happened and hence, you are allowed to feel your feelings. What happened may have affected you in some way or another, and it’s completely valid to be experiencing all sorts of emotions after a negative experience. But, forgiveness comes from a place of acceptance – Accepting that what happened happened for a reason, a good one too. It led you here. It taught your something. It is playing its role into helping you become the person you’re meant to be.
So, be sad. Be angry. Be frustrated. But, forgive them to be able to move on and most importantly, forgive yourself for the role you played in the story. You did the best you could with the information you had.
No matter what happened yesterday, tomorrow is always a new day to start again. Let go and surrender to the abundance of beauty that surrounds you.