The power of forgiveness
No matter the area or stage of our lives, we can all be a little more forgiving. When is the last time someone wronged you? How did you handle it? Did you forgive them, or do you still hold a grudge to this day? Forgiveness is difficult, but worthwhile.
When someone wrongs you, how do you react? Do you retaliate and do something back to them? Do you compartmentalize it and show little emotion around them? We all have different ways of handling another person hurting us. Through our experiences and upbringing, we may come to rely on specific tactics to take on pain. But it doesn’t make the way we’ve come to know and handle it beneficial. Frankly, the way you manage being wronged could very well be unhealthy and ultimately disrupt your peace.
That’s not to say it’s your fault. You could be reacting in the way you’ve been taught and not even know it. The first thing many people think of doing when feeling aggrieved is cutting the initiator off. If someone completely disregards the person who hurt them, they feel they don’t have to worry about confronting them, and can subsequently move on. Is this tactic successful? Well, it’s a bit subjective, but in the long run, it isn’t. Because as much as you want to cut someone off for hurting you, you must first acknowledge what they did.
Acknowledgment is crucial in many areas of life, but in relationships, it is paramount. Why did your friend go behind your back, talk about you, and hurt you? When you search more in-depth than the surface level of a problem, you’re more likely to find answers. Is it because they were seeking attention? Is it because they envy you? Is it likely they’ve treated you this way because they don’t love themselves? There could be many different answers here, none of which you can control. The responses also don’t make what they did right, but you can manage how you react to this person lashing out at you in an attempt to be more understanding.
Understanding why someone hurt you will always lead to a more beneficial state in handling the scenario in its entirety. Rather than casting harsh judgments on the other person and why they’ve treated you so poorly, you’re able to dive deep and view variables with a keen eye, leading to more understanding of why they did what they did. However, once you get to the point of understanding why and how, you can’t forget the next critical part of forgiveness, acceptance.
You can understand why someone hurt you all day long. But if you never come to accept it, your understanding goes in vain. At this point, you’ve acknowledged and understood why someone wronged you, but you have to accept it. Often, this is where many people get lost. In fact, this is what separates those living in peace and harmony from those doing so in regret and resentment. Don’t get me wrong, accepting why someone hurt you isn’t easy, but it’s not meant to be. Someone caused you pain, likely for a reason, and they’ve already zapped much of your energy. Why give them any more?
If you don’t accept why someone hurt you, you’ll never forgive them. It’s best when you lay out how the person hurt you, why they did so, and accept it. Now, just because you accept it doesn’t mean you have to be okay with it. Many people confuse acceptance and agreeance. You can accept why someone wronged you without agreeing with it. Meaning, for the sake of protecting your own peace, you’ve come to terms with why someone did what they did, and ultimately accept it. But you don’t agree with it in any way whatsoever.
By acknowledging you were wronged and accepting why you were, you can get to a place of forgiveness. Writing about forgiveness makes me think of the saying, “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.” Many people state this with confidence everyday as if they’ve achieved extreme enlightenment. I understand, as humans, it’s incredibly difficult for us to forget when someone wronged us. But as a society, we’ve built a culture around normalizing and not forgetting who and why someone hurt us. I’d argue this is the very reason many people never truly move on from being aggrieved.
Often, people trick themselves into thinking they’ve moved past someone or something. Maybe they have an estranged relationship with a family member. They’ve acknowledged the person hurt them, accepted why they did, and believe they forgave them for doing so, but continue to say they’ll never forget it. However, real forgiveness lies in forgetting, or at least the act of trying to. Holding on to memories of someone hurting you leads to a place of resentment, and do you know what resentment does? It leads to a place of bitterness, which disrupts our peace.
If you’ve gotten to this stage in the progression of your forgiveness, I urge you to try and forget why someone hurt you, for the sake of yourself. Once again, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but there’s no productivity in remembering why someone hurt you. You get to a proper state of peace by moving on entirely from a place where you were wronged—holding on to any memory of that hurtful time doesn’t and never will do anything for you.
All it does is take away your current peace. Frankly, you’re allowing the person who initially hurt you to continue to by giving up real estate to them in your mind. They’ve already taken enough from you. Take control of the situation; don’t allow yourself to be controlled. Forgiveness isn’t easy; it requires a level of grace not seen every day. Acknowledge that someone hurt you, accept why they did, forgive them, forget it, and let go. Free yourself from the shackles of resentment and bitterness. By letting go, you become the bearer of your own peace, and you’ll be happier because of it.