Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
We have all been hurt by people we love or have once loved. And, it’s good to remember that we have hurt others as well. So why do we find it so hard to forgive?
I believe that many of us resist forgiving our exes, whether they are spouses, past relationships gone bad, or even ex-friends, because we don’t really understand what forgiveness is all about or how it works. We believe we do, but we really don’t.
Why? Because we assume that if we forgive our wrongdoer, then they are essentially off the hook and able to go on their merry way while we may still be suffering from their past misdeeds, or even present actions.
We may also assume that by forgiving our wrongdoer that we have to be friendly with them again or resume some kind of relationship.
The truth is, according to the Mayo Clinic, if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on more positive parts of your life. Even if the wrongdoer did something so reprehensible and they do not deserve forgiveness, we need to forgive for ourselves.
The Mayo Clinic lists 8 health benefits we receive from forgiving:
•Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
•Less anxiety, stress and hostility
•Lower blood pressure
•Fewer symptoms of depression
•Stronger immune system
•Improved heart health
I know that sounds all well and good, but I also know it’s not so easy to get to that place of forgiveness, even knowing it’s good for us. The first step to understanding forgiveness is to learn what it is and what it isn’t. The next step is to give yourself permission to forgive and forget, and by forgetting I really mean, not focusing on it.
There is power in forgiveness and that is one way of reclaiming your life. It is a commitment to a process of change. To begin you might consider the value and health benefits as mentioned above and you may want to remember that forgiveness does not change the past, but it can and does change the future.
Realities on granting forgiveness:
•Always remember that forgiveness is about YOU! It has nothing to do with another person, even the offender!!
•Forgiveness is a process and it might take time to work through emotional issues before you can truly forgive.
•Forgiveness starts with a mental decision. The emotional part of forgiveness is finally being able to let go of the resentment.
•Forgiveness is not letting the offender off the hook. You can still hold others accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
•Forgiveness is not letting the offense recur again and again. We should not EVER tolerate lack of respect or any form of abuse.
•Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. We can forgive someone even if we never get along with him/her again.
•Forgiveness does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offenses. Some people are just mean-spirited and will never change. In these instances we need to change the way we respond to them and quit expecting anything different from them.
•We should forgive, whether or not forgiveness is asked of us. We do not ever have to tell the person they have been forgiven, especially if they have not asked for it.
•Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It’s normal for memories to be triggered in the future. Thoughts of past hurt can occur at any given moment, it’s what we do with it that counts. When we find ourselves focusing on a past hurt we can acknowledge it to ourselves and use it as a reminder as to how grateful we are now that we are in a better place.
As you begin to forgive and let go of grudges in your life, you will no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. In doing so you move away from the “victim” role and release the control and power the wrongdoer and situation have had on your life. If you remember that forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, then it may make it easier. You might even find compassion and understanding for those who have hurt you. Then again, let’s just start with forgiveness.
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