Forgiveness is a difficult word for some to understand. The idea of forgiving someone for all the bad things they’ve done to you is something that, for many, is just too difficult to do. We hear people facing the most terrible of acts against them, people who have been hurt, abused or even lost a child, forgive the person who was responsible for the pain. But is forgiveness really that important, and can the act of forgiving someone, even yourself, really help you to begin healing on the inside?
I faced a lot of bad experiences from a very early age. At a very young age I experienced some abuse and as I grew older, while the abuse no longer happened, I then faced countless experiences of bullying from multiple sources. My entire life throughout school, all the way until the day I left I felt the pain and shame of being bullied. Every time I was bullied, I cried and cried, I thought I was someone filled with sadness so much of the time, but I didn’t realise that resentment and anger was building up too. When I finally left school after my GCSEs I was finally free of the bullying, but I felt the bitterness of what had happened still inside and the idea of forgiving those bullies was somethng I never wanted to do.
Why some of us see forgiveness as difficult
The thought of forgiving someone was very linear, I saw the idea of forgiveness as letting the other person feel vindicated of everything they had done to me. To forgive my tormenters was to let them know it was okay to treat me this way, and the thought of having to forgive was just alien to me, especially when those who had hurt me had never said they were sorry. I went through the next few months and years after school freeing myself of the anger of what had happened, I learned to let go of the pain and resentment and worked through my issues to end up seeing the experiences as an unpleasant and unfortunate thing that had happened (which I wished hadn’t), but that ultimately they had helped me to become a stronger person.
But the idea of the word “forgive” was still difficult to swallow. I’d only ever really learned that forgiveness was something you gave to someone in person, and I felt I couldn’t still forgive those who had hurt me, I didn’t want them to be free of their guilt. Holding on to this bitter feeling though kept me weighed down, kept me from really feeling like I’d let go of all the pain. This is the same reason why so many people struggle with the idea of forgiveness, because we see it as a way of letting the other person be free of the guilt and pain they caused us. But the reality is that the word “forgiveness” has a different meaning, and it is not about the other person, it’s about you.
Forgiving to let go of pain
The word forgive has been used wrong, or maybe there should be another word to explain what we should really be doing, because forgiving someone isn’t about the other person, it’s all about what happens inside of you. The other person who has wronged you never has to hear you say “I forgive you” but by saying those words and meaning them you are letting go of the resentment and anger that you hold inside.
Most of us who have felt pain and shame of bullying or abuse of some kind, or who have been wronged in some other way, will feel at some point a deep negative emotion towards the person who hurt us. We may feel anger, hatred, sadness and frustration and it’s all because of another’s actions. But by choosing not to forgive, we keep hold of that anger, hatred, saddness and frustration, we are choosing to not let it go. When we forgive someone it’s not because we want them to feel better (it may be what you have learned but this isn’t the truth). When you forgive someone, truly forgive them for what they have done, what you are actually telling yourself, telling your inner self, your subconscious, is that you no longer hold any anger, resentment, hatred, etc. against them, that those emotions are gone and you no longer feel them when thinking about the other person.
You never have to see or speak ot the person who hurt you in order to forgive them, because forgiveness is about you choosing to let go of everything that you hold against another person. The act of forgiving them is letting go of the pain that all those negative emotions hold over you. And when you do something amazing happens.
Forgiveness isn’t just about forgiving those who have wronged you, but it’s about forgiving yourself too. Plenty of us who have experienced a trauma of some kind, carry with us a feeling of regret and sometimes even hate for our own actions. We end up regretting how we acted, wondering why we didn’t do things differently and for so many of us we constantly condemn the actions we did or didn’t take and build up a resentment to ourselves. But these feelings only make us worse, they weigh us down, make us feel less love for ourselves and stop us from feeling good inside.
Sometimes nobody has wronged you but youself, and if you don’t forgive yourself for your own actions then you will never feel free of such anger and hate. The negative emotions build and we become people who live our lives pretending to othes that we are happy when inside we are not. So we need to learn and begin to forgive ourselves. We need to forive our own past actions or inactions, no matter what they were. Forgiving ourselves is so much harder sometimes than forgiving another because we can often be our greatest critics. But if you forgive yourself you are telling yourself that you learned the way not to act and now you can make sure to act the right way in future.
Forgiving youself is one of the most powerful ways to heal youself inside because you give yourself permission to feel happiness again. As children most of us remember feeling pure joy and happiness in life. That is the state that we as adults are allowed to be in and should feel. So if you are holding on to your own guilt and loathing for what you did or didn’t do, then start to forgive yourself because amazing things happen when you do.
Forgiveness causes healing
It sounded so weird to me, the idea of forgiving those that hurt me. I thought if I forgave them they would go on with their lives all ‘la-di-da’ while I would be sitting at home still filled with pain and sadness and still feeling like justice wasn’t done. I kept wanting an apology from them or I would just hold on to the pain. But the reality was very different. I thought I’d learned to let go of the pain a longwhile ago, but I didn’t truly feel free of that pain until the act of forgiving the people who hurt me. It freed me of all that anger and resentment that I still didn’t know I had inside me. It freed my mind and more importantly my heart and I could begin to heal on the inside. Mentally I began to feel better, it was slow on one level, I had to do it over and over again, but on the other hand it was almost instant and I suddenly felt lighter. I felt at ease in the world because I realised that it didn’t matter what those people who had hurt me were thinking now. It didn’t matter if they were very sorry for what they had done or were not and were living the high life. In the end I only felt happy that I had forgiven them, because in doing so I was telling myself that I was free of their abuse, free of the pain they caused, that I was not connected to them at all, they had no control over me anymore.
Forgiving myself was harder, especially with problems of depression I would so often feel like everything was my fault and I refused to forgive myself for all my past actions because doing so would allow me to be happy which I felt I didn’t deserve. But after working on this slowly and forgiving others first, I slowly began to forgive myself. I learned to look at my past mistakes not as terrible experiences that I should be punished for making, but instead as mistakes that showed me what not to do in the future, how not to be. And in the case of bullying and abuse, instead of feeling resentment for my inactions at that time, I look back on those experiences and see them as something that shouldn’t have happened, but because it did I found a way to be strong now, and I now know I can use those unfortunate experiences I had to help people now, to help stop others experiencing the same things, and to help those who did find a voice and move on with their lives.
Forgiving myself and others was so hard to do and it is difficult when you have spent years building up the blockage of negative feelings towards others. But freeing yourself of all those negative emotions clears you mind, clears you heart and makes you feel lighter and more appreciative of life. You end up feeling love in a more powerful way than you have ever felt it before, especially a love of yourself which is a good thing and you’re allowed to feel. 🙂 And although it took me years to work through my issues I feel so free and alive and full of love that I feel like I’ve just woken up and I want to spread that love to all of you. Have a wonderful day everyone, and I hope it is filled with joy and love ❤ 🙂
Have you ever or do you still struggle with the idea of forgiving someone? What about forgiving yourself for anything you regret in your life? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂