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Physical abuse. Psychological abuse. Neglect. Vicious gossip. Most people can relate to the pain and damage that these acts have caused. The worst thing anyone can do is allow the painful memories and scars to hold them captive. The best thing anyone can do is learn to forgive. But what does it mean to forgive? Experts today agree that forgiveness is powerful for many reasons. But before delving into the power of forgiveness, let’s first take a look at the biggest misconceptions surrounding the concept of forgiveness.
What Does It Mean to Forgive?
Forbes published an article in 2019 on the power of forgiveness. In it, one of the biggest misconceptions of forgiveness is explained. Forgiveness is not about forgetting the offense or allowing the same offender the opportunity to continuously cause harm. Experts advise that remembering what happened can help the victim by providing warning signs later on down the road. Essentially, forgiveness means finding a way to release the anger so that it doesn’t eat you alive.
Another common misconception regarding forgiveness, according to the American Psychological Association is that forgiveness is a sign of weakness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength to forgive someone who hurt you.
The Negative Side Effects of Not Forgiving
Johns Hopkins Medicine published an article on their website about the ability to forgive and its connection to an individual’s physical health. Chronic anger can turn into depression, heart disease, and even diabetes. But forgiveness can lower high blood pressure, lower stress levels and increase overall happiness. The experts at Johns Hopkins recommend that individuals searching for forgiveness take the following steps:
- Reflection on the painful incident and on the emotions the victim experienced.
- Empathize with the offender. Try to imagine what went wrong in the other person’s life that led to the painful actions they took.
- Let go of Expectations. Don’t wait for an apology or some kind of grand gesture from the offender.
- Forgive. Forgive the offender. Experts recommend writing a letter of forgiveness in a journal or notebook. Get all of your feelings out about the incident and then forgive.
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Probably one of the hardest things for people to do is forgive themselves when they’ve wronged someone else. Guilt is a disgruntled skeleton in the closet that lurks around waiting for you to arrive at a happy moment in your life. And right when you’re there, it comes out of the closet, grabs your foot and pulls you down. Guilt tells you that you aren’t good enough. That you don’t deserve these happy moments because of the big bad secret from your past.
- Identify the Mistake
Take some time to reflect on where you went wrong, why it was the wrong choice and what you would do differently in the future.
2. Own the Mistake
Admitting guilt is extremely challenging in this life. The mistake most people make when admitting guilt is adding an excuse to the end of it.
“Yes I violated your confidence by telling everyone you work with but it’s your fault. You never should’ve trusted me.”
To be clear, that’s not owning the mistake. Owning the mistake means not trying to attach blame to someone else or a set of circumstances. When you make a mistake, it’s your mistake. No one else’s.
3. Make it Right
This can seem easier said than done depending on the mistake in question. If, for example, you’re guilty of shoplifting, take the item back and prepare yourself for the consequences. Owning the mistake and doing the right thing isn’t supposed to be easy but it will help alleviate the guilt and allow you to move on.
4. Move On
Otherwise known as making peace with your past. You can’t change the past. You can’t change the fact that you had an affair. You can’t change the fact that you were arrested for drunk driving. You got caught. You suffered the consequences. For the people who felt victimized by your mistake, that may never be enough. Don’t wait for around for someone else to forgive you. Find a way to accept what you’ve done. Live each day with a goal to be a better person than you were the day before. You have to learn to forgive yourself even though the person you hurt may never do so.
Forgiveness in Hand
For anyone searching for a tangible reminder of the power of forgiveness, there are some natural sources of healing that have been known to help. The Chakra Therapy Collection includes a set of 14 stones and gemstones that are all known for their healing abilities.
Another good tool is a collection of essential oils with fragrances that will help alleviate stress and calm your mind, allowing you to focus and harness the power of forgiveness.
For those who want to combine the healing powers of gemstones and aromatherapy with something else, there are a number of books available that cover forgiveness and healing. Chicken Soup For the Soul has at least three books that might help.
The power of forgiveness is limitless. Releasing yourself from guilt and finding a way to move through the pain of the past will only set you on a path toward a rewarding life. Whether you’ve suffered at the hands of another or you’re plagued by guilt, know that there are good days ahead and that you are deserving of them. That is the power of forgiveness.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 12 TIPS FOR POSITIVE AND PEACEFUL PARENTING.
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