What is forgiveness? What does it actually mean to forgive?
There are some common misconceptions surrounding forgiveness that have evolved from cultural and societal conditioning. This really stems from a lack of understanding and awareness on the subject as well as how to really apply it to any given experience. It’s a common belief that forgiveness is like saying, what happened, is okay. Another is that by forgiving, and “being nice,” you’re allowing it to possibly happen again. But that is not forgiveness at ALL.
Forgiveness is releasing the need to be right.
True forgiveness comes when you can see the other person’s perspective and not only understand why they chose to do what they did, but how it actually benefited you all along.
Seem like a stretch? Keep reading. You’ll like how this unfolds.
There are countless benefits of forgiveness.
Our bodies function better, our minds are clearer, our hearts are more open, and we move more easily through life. These benefits have positive effects on our relationships with ourselves and others, the way we express ourselves and communicate with others, as well as how we perceive our worlds. The beneficial ripples of forgiveness truly span across all areas of our lives.
When I asked my friend Heidi how the act of forgiveness affects her, she said she experiences relief that she no longer has to hold the burden of a negative emotion. She even experiences positivity because she feels hopeful about the future interactions with the other person.
She also adds, “Ultimately, I do feel a sense of self-support and encouragement that I was able to deal with forgiving in a healthy way. Sometimes I feel exhausted, which allows for rest and repair.”
Along with rest, forgiving has many positive effects on the body.
Ailments you once experienced go away. Thoughts that used to terrorize and engulf your mind are nowhere to be found. You FEEL better in your body as the tension you once held is released. And as you can guess, any time you allow your body to experience well-being rather than stress, a positive inner environment begins to cultivate, and so, a more positive outlook on life.
Forgiveness also allows us to take ownership of our lives and cut out playing the victim.
While it can be “easy” in Victim Land, or at least that’s what we’re deceitfully telling ourselves, it’s most certainly unfulfilling. My friend Cherry explains, “I released so many ill feelings towards people I felt had wronged me, but in honesty, I had allowed them to take advantage of me, say and do anything they wanted to me, and kept silent. I realized I ‘let’ all their negative projections fall on me and I carried their grief, heartache, loneliness, and sadness.”
Ultimately that led her on a path to healing herself and trusting that the Universe has her back. In conclusion, she states, “Forgiveness is the key to leveling up in your creative energy, self-development, and higher version of who you are.”
So, now we’ve come to the question on everyone’s mind, “HOW?”
How Exactly Do You Forgive?
If you’re finding it difficult to forgive, here’s a tip I discovered along my forgiveness journey. Apply this reasoning to your situation:
“They just didn’t KNOW.”
They didn’t know any better or different because they never asked. They never thought to look outside their reality, their perspective. They never even thought it was possible to ask for something better, let alone HAVE any better or different. They didn’t have or seek out a positive role model to show them any different. They didn’t know how their choices and actions would affect YOU; they probably didn’t even know how their choices and actions would affect their own lives!
They just didn’t know!
We’re all here learning from each other and we’re all at different levels. Realizing this, I was then forced to ask myself, “How could I expect them to [ insert thing here] if THEY JUST DIDN’T KNOW?
That even applies to ourselves. How could we expect [blank] from ourselves when WE JUST DIDN’T KNOW any better at the time?
It’s like getting mad at a child for doing something “wrong” that they didn’t know how to do in the first place. We, as loving, awakening souls would never do that! We would forgive that child and show them a better way. We don’t always have the option to show the adults around us a better way, but we DO have the power to forgive them for the choices they made in their life. After all, it’s THEIR life, not yours.
Seeing the experience from their perspective allows you to see their truth.
They are simply acting from the programs they learned from their life experiences and the other characters in it. In turn, it helps you realize that what “they did to you,” was never about you! They are only seeing you through their limiting beliefs.
Hold understanding and compassion for them, as you would want to be done to you. Be grateful for the lessons they taught you. As a soul, none of us really want to “hurt” anyone; but we do realize growth calls for a bit of resistance. If you really want to kick it up a notch, write down three things that you appreciate about that person, and watch how your relationship shifts in positive ways.
We’re all here to learn. That means we will not know everything up front. And that is PERFECT, just as it was designed to be.
I send so much loving energy to you souls making your way through this forgiveness journey.