This article was written by Life Coach Jennifer Bridge
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis Smedes
At some point in our lives, we all get hurt emotionally. Until we forgive and get to the other side, it is nearly impossible to see the hold that it had on us. Whether it is a friend acting disloyal, a significant other cheating, an employer laying us off or some other painful situation, life happens. When we hold on to these experiences and become resentful, angry and re-feel the hurt and pain, we suffer even more. It is easy to get caught in this vicious cycle of negativity. For some people, it is easy to forgive. For others, it takes a lot of work and time. And some people never allow themselves to get to a place where they are able to forgive.
I think of forgiveness as an internal action that allows us to release negative emotions and reconnect to our spirit. Holding on to those painful parts of our past keep us from moving forward. We get stuck in those overwhelming feelings. We shut down and put up an emotional wall for protection. But in reality, we shut out love and new opportunities to grow.
It is important to clarify what forgiveness is not as well. Forgiveness is not forgetting. As time goes by, it gets easier to ignore what happened and not think about it, but it is still there. Forgiveness is the only way to free yourself and move on.
Forgiveness is not making excuses for what happened. “They didn’t really mean to do it” or “They didn’t know better” are examples of some excuses you might tell yourself. This mindset does not allow you to acknowledge the hurt and see it for what it really is and in turn, let it go.
Forgiveness is not justice or revenge. Paybacks or getting even will not help you heal. Hurting the person that hurt you might temporarily feel better, but it will ultimately bring you more pain. Forgiveness is a moral response to another person’s injustice. It’s an inside job.
Forgiveness has the word “give” in it. We give a gift to ourselves when we forgive others. We give ourselves the freedom to move on and break the cycle of hurt we have been caught in. We give ourselves a new perspective on life. The darkness fades away and the world looks a little brighter through forgiving eyes.