What Truly Is Forgiveness, And How Can It Be Helpful?

by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist


Published in Lifestyle on 23rd October, 2018


First Of All, What Is Forgiveness Not?

There is a troubling tendency for forgiveness to be used as a means of sweeping negative behaviors under the rug. Those who have done things that were wrong in the past may ask for forgiveness in a sense that they just want you to forget about what they've done.

how to forgive

Let's be clear, this is not forgiveness. This is an unhealthy person asking you to pretend that everything is okay without making serious attempts to correct the wrongs. The request asks that you stuff away the feelings you may have about their indiscretions, and it doesn't show any real concern for how those things effected you.

So keep in mind that you don't owe this kind of forgiveness, and it isn't something that erases the problems, mistakes or negative behaviors of the past. Instead, true forgiveness is for you and you alone.

Knowing That, What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is deciding that you won't let negative feelings towards another person get in your way anymore. While it doesn't mean forgetting the bad things that happened, it does mean setting aside the anger or resentment you may have about it to enjoy the rest of your life.

It's making peace with yourself about what happened so that you can heal, rather than ruminating on the past. If you've been abused, mistreated or wronged, it can be so hard to stop thinking about how you could have avoided it, or how awful the other person is for doing whatever they did to you.

what is forgiveness

That's natural, normal, and it makes sense to be upset when we've been wronged. However, if you become to focused on that to really enjoy all the other aspects of your life, it can result in things like depression, anxiety and just a negative outlook on life overall.

Without forgetting the wrongs, forgiveness brings you to a place where you can create joy and meaningful relationships in your life. It can be an extremely difficult thing to do, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. There are so many ways in which forgiveness can improve your life.

How Is Forgiveness Helpful?

It Takes The Weight Off Your Shoulders

We can carry around a lot of negativity as a result of difficult things that have happened to us in the past. This negativity can effect the way we feel on a daily basis, the way we view the world around us and the way we live our lives.

Choosing forgiveness can allow us to let go of the negative feelings that bog us down. As a result, you'll feel better and be more open to the positive aspects of the world. It can also be helpful when trying to get out of your own mind.

Helps You To Heal

When you let go of negativity, you can focus on self-growth and healing. In many cases, a therapist can help a great deal in guiding you down a healthy path. You can also learn how to better engage in self care and living a better life overall. It's much the same as removing a toxic person from your life. When you stop compounding the negative thoughts and feelings, you can begin to become the person you were before painful events took place. Overall, you'll be able to breathe more freely and grow without being held back by those feelings.

Relieves Stress

It's incredible, the weight that unpleasant events in our lives can have on us. On top of that, ruminating about the events as well as the effects that came from it can cause even more stress in our lives.

what is forgiveness

Think about the stresses we all experience on a day to day basis. It's normal to be stressed out by work, money, our children and so much more. Adding the emotions wrapped up in traumatic events can make it that much worse, leaving you stressed and also potentially frozen and unable to decide what to tackle first.

Self-Medication Looks Less Appealing

Many who have been through neglect, abuse and other traumatic events in their lives can find solace in various forms of self-medication. These can include comforting oneself with food, alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, gambling or other unhealthy methods. While they can seem like good ideas at the time, these methods are often harmful in the long run.

Letting go of the negativity rather than turning to these methods can allow you to heal in a lasting way. As a result, you won't need to numb the pain as much and will be more likely to avoid self-medicating and causing yourself further harm.

Why Should You Forgive?

Ultimately, forgiveness is for yourself, and it's up to you how, when and why you choose to do it. If you're having trouble finding a route to forgiveness, then seeking out the professional help of a therapist can be very helpful.

what is forgiveness

It's also important to remember that forgiveness isn't something that can be forced, which is also why it's not something that can be demanded or asked for by others. No one gets to dictate when you can truly forgive others, it's just something that you allow to happen when you're ready.

Oftentimes, there is personal growth you have to go through in order to really be able to forgive others.

Using Forgiveness To Your Advantage

While you cannot force forgiveness, you can help to allow it to happen. There are a few ways that can be accomplished. You can seek therapy, as earlier mentioned. It can also help to learn about the motivations of those who caused you pain. This isn't something that's always going to be useful, as it really depends on the exact situation.

However, working under the example that there are deeper issues going on for that individual, like a personality disorder or other mental issue. While these situations are absolutely not excuses for abuse, assault or other forms of trauma, they can serve to help you with understanding where the behaviors came from.

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