Forgiveness as a Key to the Future
Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It is a release from the burden of
anger and pain. When you choose to forgive, you choose to live in the present and
the future instead of the past. It does not mean to forget but it does mean to
release and go on. Forgiveness doesn't happen on it's own, you must choose to
Forgiving doesn't always mean resuming a
relationship with whoever has hurt you. "If a person won't meet you
halfway or has been abusive, it may be better to forgive simply to make your
own life less stressful, but continue to keep your distance", recommends
Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good
way, you can protect yourself but still reap the benefits. Try Dr.
Luskin's tips below for mending a broken bond:
1. Get the frustration - tell your story to
a few close friends. This will help you explore your feelings about
the rift and obtain a clear sense of perspective.
2. Focus on what's in it for you -
it's not always about who was right. Remind yourself that forgiving
can free you to move on with your life. Tell yourself that the point
is to reduce angst. After all, living well is the best revenge.
3. Breathe in calm - instead of
tensing up or starting in on your inner rant, inhale and exhale deeply or
relax in whatever way appeals to you.
4. Turn the details of your story
around - victims don't have control of their lives; heroes do. So make
yourself the hero of your own saga. Think of it this way; Although
someone else may have precipitated your misery, whether you stay miserable
is entirely up to you.
You may have been hurt by something that your partner did to you. You may have
been hurt because your expectations weren't met. You may have been hurt and you
don't even remember why. You may have done something to someone else that you are
sorry for. And you remember the pain and carry it with you like a grudge everywhere
you go. When your burden becomes too great, it becomes the relationship, it consumes
your life and it changes who you are and what your relationships can be. It is a
wall between you and the intimacy that you seek.
When you forgive: Forgive is defined as: giving
up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry
You relieve yourself of the burden of the past. You shed the hurt, pain, anger,
and loneliness. You can begin to heal.
You give the person you forgive (even yourself) the freedom to live in peace and to be
able to change for the better.
Points about forgiveness:
Forgiveness is not forgetting.
The pain may not be completely gone. One can forgive and still grieve a loss or
feel pain from a wound.
Damage and wounds can take time to repair.
Forgiveness does not deny responsibility for behavior. You have simply committed
to not hold the other person in debt.
Every person is doing their best given their
upbringing and their conditioning. We each are doing the very best we
can with what we have been given. As we know better we do better.
Ways to forgive:
An individual exercise in forgiveness:
Write down with pen and paper all of the things that
you have done wrong. It is imperative that you write.
Word processing is not the same.
Read the list.
Now say "I did the best that I could with the
knowledge that I had at the time. I now forgive myself and go
Destroy (burn or shred) the list.
Repeat the exercise for each of the other people who
have hurt you.
Now begin anew to live your life without the burden
of unforgiving pain - it is unnecessary suffering.
Individual forgiveness - forgive
yourself for judging yourself for not being worthy of love,
happiness and joy. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of
happiness. You are worthy of joy. Stop judging yourself.
Have the strength and courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Be
kind and loving to yourself. Practice holding a positive vision for
yourself. Make choices that support you in moving forward in your
life. It is all about choices. Choose to forgive yourself and
then move forward and let go of your past. Live for today and enjoy
the journey of life itself.
A couple's exercise in forgiveness.
We recommend that you do this exercise using the principles of positive, loving
communication. If your communication is a problem, you may wish to read some books
on the subject such as Talk to Me: How to Create Positive Loving
Communication or take some communication training. Once you are able to talk
about difficult subjects, you might try the following exercise.
Set an agenda to work on one issue at a time. You both must agree that you are
ready to talk about that issue.
Using active listening techniques such as The Couple's Fair Exchange Process or Speaker
Listener and ground rules that you have agreed to, discuss the pain and concerns that you
have about the issue. The objective is to understand how you each feel
about the issue. Do not point the finger, do not place blame, but try to understand
the consequences of each other's actions. You must show respect and care for each
The offender asks for forgiveness. Apologies are extremely powerful.
Understand the pain and feelings of the offended person.
The offended person agrees to forgive. Commit the issue to the past without
getting even or holding the offender in debt. The issue will not be used as a weapon
in future conflicts.
The offender agrees to change their behavior as appropriate.
You both move forward with a commitment to create a better future.
Note: If you have serious forgiveness issues
then you may find this book helpful:
Radical Forgiveness by Colin C. Tipping