Aang: It’s easy to do nothing, but it’s hard to forgive. Forgiveness is the first step you have to take to begin healing.
Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life, leading to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for yourself and/or the one who hurt you.
When we’re hurt by someone we love and trust, we become angry, sad or confused. If we dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If we allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, we find ourselves swallowed up by our own bitterness or sense of injustice.
It’s not fair but we are the sum of our positive and negative experiences. Sometimes aspects of ourselves that we are fiercely proud of grew in opposition to that which mistreated us. We should have been left to discover those parts of ourselves under kinder circumstances; no one deserves to have anything beaten into them ever. But sometimes that’s not how it happens. What do you do, then? Accept it as part of the tapestry of your life. Accept what you learned from it, without taking on the blame. ~ Beccatoria
In searching for a tag for this post, I just realized that I actually never wrote about Forgiveness on this blog. Yet it is a subject that is on my mind very often. Specifically in terms of forgiving myself. It is hard and some things I can’t let go of. But, even if can’t quite offer myself forgiveness, I can offer acceptance. Not acceptance that what I did was justified or right or fair, but acceptance that it happened. It is unchangeable and it shaped me, and now I will move forward as a person. It is the best I can do for now.
9 Steps in Learning How to Forgive (from learningtoforgive.com):
- Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not okay. Then, tell one or two trusted loved ones about your experience. It is important that you acknowledge, without self-judgment, the feelings brought about by the experience. Talking to a loved one will help validate the experience. Being heard is important to the healing process.
- Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
- Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning their actions. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
- Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
- At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.
- Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
- Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
- Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
- Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.
With the exception of one or two of those, the same can be applied to forgiving ourselves.
Hugs and love,
This is Post F, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.
The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.