Has there ever been a period in your life when you’ve struggled with forgiveness? Perhaps someone has done something harmful or hurtful to you and you just can’t seem to forgive them for it. I’ve been there too. Quite frankly, during my childhood there were many things that I’ve struggled with and needed to overcome.
None of my childhood challenges were more difficult to overcome than learning to forgive others. Like most of you, I have come to learn that my belief system about forgiveness was filled with tons of misunderstandings.
Myths:What Forgiveness is NOT
Forgiveness is not forgetting; it is not condoning, it is not absolution, and it is not a clear cut, one time decision. Forgiveness is much more than you may think. Forgiveness is the mechanism that frees us from the binding of a particular experience; it enables us to feel permitted to release feelings that once held us captive.
Through forgiveness you can free yourself from all the emotional energy you’ve once carried for years. It does not mean that what happened to you was okay, but what it does mean is you don’t have to carry the negative emotional energy associated with the experience any longer.
Forgiveness is NOT about accepting an apology, to later throw it back in someone’s face out of spite. Forgiveness is NOT lying to yourself that you no longer care. Forgiveness is NOT universal, it will look a bit different for everyone.
Let’s take a look into the challenges with forgiveness.
Challenges with Forgiveness
- You still feel the pain from the hurt that was caused
- You have never experienced the feeling of being forgiven
- You haven’t come to terms with your true feelings
- You believe there is no upside to forgiveness
Whatever the reason for your struggle with forgiveness, if we continue to hold on to and harbor old feelings of hurt and pain I can assure, you will be the main person affected by this energy i.e. (anger, frustration, anxiety, lack trust, a hindrance on future relationships etc).
My personal experience with forgiveness has taught me that the power lies in your ability to release yourself from the emotional pain of the past, and the pain that has been transferred into your present situation. What I also learned from this experience was, there are many reasons for holding onto grudges and lacking forgiveness, but there were a few that overlapped.
Three Reasons People Struggling With Forgiveness
Denial: We attempt to down-play the impact or importance of painful past experiences. We bury our thoughts and feelings about these experiences believing this will also bury the pain. When this happens we are rejecting the present moment and our true feelings. This negative feeling, if it continues to go unchecked can lead to resentment and other harmful emotions. A tool that can be very helpful is journaling; it will allow for the opportunity to identify how you feel and process your emotions.
Self-Blame: We try to explain what happened to us by assuming we were somehow responsible for the injuries and injustices we suffered. When doing this, we can negatively affect our self-esteem as we work overtime to convince ourselves; we would not have been hurt if we did things differently. When there is a struggle with self-blame therein lies a need for self-forgiveness.
Victim: We recognize that we did not deserve or ask for the hurt we received. We are well aware of how we were damaged by painful past experiences. So much so that we wallow in self-pity, expect little of ourselves, or lash out at anyone and everyone who “crosses us”. When we fall into the victim category it is extremely important to develop the tools to process our emotions. When this happens it will allow you to work from victim to victorious.
Please remember that forgiveness is a process of healing. How will you begin your healing process of forgiveness?
If you are someone who struggles with forgiveness, and no longer wants to avoid your emotional pain there is help. Reach out to Hope Avenue Counseling Services. There is someone who will help you develop the tools to effectively manage your emotions.
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