“Forgiveness comes easy when you know that what people say or do is about them, it’s not about you.” ~ Kim Kings
We all speak of forgiveness, but we all know how hard it is to put into action.
In the past, I struggled to forgive those who wronged me. In some cases, I spent years trying to forget what happened and let go of the resentment.
With time, I realized that no one’s perfect and we’re all prone to making mistakes. It was only after unintentionally hurting others that I was able to understand those who had hurt me. We all have our reasons, and the best thing we can do is understand others the way we wish to be understood.
Not everyone hurts us out of cruelty, but even when I have understood someone’s reasons for hurting me, forgiving them was still a difficult task. I couldn’t let it go. Sometimes, no matter what we think we know or understand, it’s just hard to forgive those who’ve caused us pain.
And so we wallow in self-pity and continue to mentally punish the other person. We keep repeating the painful events in our minds and blame ourselves for accepting what shouldn’t be accepted. We try to force ourselves to forgive the other person, but we also try to force forgiveness of ourselves for allowing this person to hurt us.
After spending years in this cycle, I finally figured out that I’ve been doing it all wrong.
It took me a long time, but I realized that if we try to forgive someone for their own sake, it will never happen, because we don’t hold enough appreciation for that person to be able to forgive. What we hold for them in that moment is disappointment.
However things changed when I started thinking about myself. Holding onto that disappointment, anger and resentment is tiring—it takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge. It can become isolating, alter our mood and lead to constant unhappiness.
So I decided to stop trying to forgive for someone else, and instead do it for myself.
When I’ve had enough thinking, analyzing and pain, I now seek my own peace of mind. And here’s what I found:
In our minds we believe that we need to find the answers to be able to forgive, which is why we go back in time, replaying our experience. We are trying to answer the “whys,” but so often, even when we know the answers, we continue to hold onto the anger.
Truth is, we are subconsciously angry at those who hurt us because they have left our life, our present moment. We wish things had turned out differently so that we could still have this person in our life.
But it takes less energy to hold a grudge. Continuously thinking about the past is a burden.
When I thought about it that way—when I thought about my own happiness and health—I chose to let it go.
I wasn’t even mad anymore that this person no longer permeated my days. Because whatever issues or problems this person caused in my life became their responsibility. When we forgive the person who wronged us, we are directly pulling ourselves out of the problem.
We are handing their problem back to them on a silver platter—because it is not ours and it never was.
I also realized that with time, our pain goes away. The memory of what happened fades, so why hold onto something that will perish anyway?
When we are able to forgive those who hurt us, we will be able to forgive ourselves as well. So think about yourself, your own happiness and your own well-being.
Once you do, forgiveness will come easier than you ever thought.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Tony Webster/Flickr