I’ve found that forgiving can be one of the best gifts that we give ourselves, yet we struggle to do so. Many times, when I talk to people about forgiveness, they immediately tell me that either they are not angry with anyone or they tell me why they are angry with someone and list the reasons they shouldn’t forgive them. See forgiving has become synonymous with letting someone off the hook, accepting or excusing the undesirable behavior of another person. We are judging another for their actions and ultimately deciding that they are wrong. With this definition it’s perfectly understandable why people would hesitate to forgive after a difficult encounter with another. But I believe forgiving is reclaiming your power and has very little to do with the other person. When you choose to forgive another person or even yourself, you are choosing compassion and empathy which are amazing gifts to give yourself. It takes courage to move past hurt feelings, resentment and even betrayal. When I find myself in a situation where I need to practice forgiveness, I stop and ask why the situation occurred. I try to find my role in whatever the breakdown was. I then try to put myself in their shoes and genuinely express compassion for their situation. Lastly, I release the negative emotions that I am holding on to. I remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can in any given moment. I also remind myself that the negative feelings I’m holding on to are only hurting me, not the person I’m upset with. Sometimes I have to repeat these steps a few times to completely release the negative feelings, but the benefit of forgiving is so freeing and liberating that its worth all of the effort.
In a continued effort to be the best version of myself everyday (doesn’t always happen though), I spent some time thinking about forgiveness. I asked myself, “Do you have anyone to forgive today?” Immediately my answer was no, I don’t have anyone I need to forgive. Then I began to reflect on the meaning of forgiveness. It turned out that I needed to forgive and have some compassion for myself today. I have been pretty hard on myself the past couple of weeks for not accomplishing some goals that I set. I have been a little distracted and not completing tasks even though I know I’m more than capable of doing them. I took a few moments and chose to release the negative feelings toward myself since they weren’t serving me anyway. It turned out that today was the most productive day I’ve had in weeks. The power of forgiveness is amazing. Who do you need to forgive?