Forgiveness is a process where someone who has been wronged, makes a choice, to let go of their anger and resentment.
Forgiveness does not mean we forget, or condone the wrongdoing, grant legal mercy, or reconcile a relationship. We can forgive a person while in no way believing that their actions were justified or acceptable.
However, forgiveness’ is also not just saying the words “I forgive you”. Nor is it simply accepting an apology. And it is not “letting go” but secretly, wishing for revenge.
Forgiveness is an emotional change that occurs within us, if we are the person who has been wronged. It is a decision we make to overcome the pain inflicted by the other person. We do this by letting go of anger, resentment, shame and other emotions associated with the injustice, even though those feelings are reasonable. It is often one of our biggest challenges and very difficult to do.
Remember, it is always a choice. We do not have to forgive anyone.
So why would we bother choosing to forgive?
Just for a moment, imagine how anger and resentment actually feel. They cause a strong and bitter feeling. Resentment refers to the mental process of repetitively replaying an event. By doing this, we re-experience and re-live the event, and all of the feelings it caused, in ways that negatively affect us, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
A lot of people think that if we feel anger and resentment, the offender is somehow experiencing our emotion and therefore being punished. This is not true. All the offender gets to experience is their own interpretation of our behavior. Or, in many cases, they experience nothing at all, because they are not even someone we have contact with anymore. A great description I once heard of resentment, is “like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die” (Carrie Fischer).
Anger and resentment only hurt us. We are the ones that experience the painful, destructive emotions. Not the offender.
By forgiving, we choose to let go of resentment and anger, and therefore WE feel better. It also means the person who wronged us, does not get to make us feel painful emotions for the rest of our lives. Instead we are taking control of our own emotional management.
Written by Lynda Timperley Btch, Dip Psych. Cert Life Coaching.
Copy-write. Love Life Now.