Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Decision to Forgive

Forgiveness is ultimately a decision one makes.You might make it because you are exhausted from carrying around so much pain and hurt. You might be concerned about the physical health ramifications of holding a grudge or resentment over a period of months and years.

It doesn't take a perfect apology in order to choose to forgive. Forgiveness is more an internal decision one makes,realizing that all people are flawed,and that you accept whatever hurt was caused and move on in your life.You free up trapped energy that was stuck in justified anger and hurt,forgive the person involved, either literally,through a conversation or in writing,or symbolically, through a forgiveness ritual you can create. Sometimes I have encouraged my patients to have a burning bowl ceremony,where you safely and ceremoniously burn scraps of paper with names or actions you forgive and release.

When is it hard to forgive?

When your partner has betrayed you by becoming emotionally or physically intimate with someone else.

When someone close to you has lied to you.

When your parents were physically or emotionally abusive.

When a sibling rejects you and builds allies in the family against you.

When a co-worker or business partner doesn't keep their commitment,and you are negatively impacted by it.

When a parent falls apart,and can't be there to play their role in your life that you really need.

Amazingly,I have witnessed people in all of these painful circumstances,and others, who choose to forgive.Giving forgiveness,after fully working through your hurt and anger, means choosing peace inside yourself. Choosing to forgive doen't neccesarily mean you can feel safe with that individual again right away,or maybe ever.You don't forget. Forgiveness means you accept the natural weaknesses and imperfections in people you have cared about.You stop feeding the fire of anger,going over the other person's wrongdoings like a movie repeating.You choose your own peace and lightness,because life is fragile,and you reject wasting anymore emotional energy in that negative,hopeless way.

Forgiveness allows you space to add other emotionally satisfying people and experiences to your life.Resentment is about the past. Forgiveness is about freeing yourself from victimhood,and creating emotionally healing experiences with either those you've forgiven, or others you allow into your inner circle. Taking inventory about what grudges or pain you are carrying,and working it through to forgiveness can allow you to take back your life.

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