Forgiveness: What It Really Means
Updated: Aug 27, 2021
Carrying pain and struggle activated my curiosity around the study of forgiveness. A few years ago, I decided to take a deep dive into the topic because I was so lousy at forgiving. I eventually found myself in a coaching program learning how to coach others through the difficult and oftentimes highly resistant process of forgiveness. I knew there were health benefits associated with forgiveness, but I didn’t know HOW to walk the path.
We’re human. Life offers us experiences that can lead to a great deal of pain. The bright side to pain is that it also offers us an opportunity, if we choose, to grow. Grievances come in all different weights. Some can be very light to carry. Those are generally easier to let go of and forgive.
But, there are those heavier offenses -- things that really wounded us and changed us; offenses that cut to our core and literally changed who we were -- that make us question the need, desire, or even the ability to forgive. This was where I used to be.
Does this sound like you, too? Think forgiveness is impossible?
It’s not impossible. It’s very doable and I’m going to explain how.
After not forgiving, and unknowingly suffering for it, I’ve had some major reflections on how forgiveness actually transformed my life. I live free now. And I want to show you what forgiveness really means because it has changed my life for the better.
What is forgiveness?
When you hear the word “forgiveness,” what does it mean to you? Do you think choosing forgiveness means letting the other person off the hook? Do you think by choosing forgiveness you are saying that what happened is ok? When harboring unforgiveness, the only person that suffers is you. Forgiveness isn’t about the other person. Forgiveness is about feeling the pain within, processing it, and eventually setting yourself free from the emotional bond that you have created through the story of your experience.
We don’t forget what happened but we can free ourselves from holding on to the heavy chains and narrow perceptions that unforgiveness creates. Forgiveness doesn’t have anything to do with tolerating or excusing the trauma or making up with the offender. This is not about denying the pain. Our process is forgiving doesn’t excuse the person who hurt us. But it invites us to look at how the pain contributed to our own personal growth.
Why do you want to forgive?
This is an interesting question and one that most normally don’t think about, by WHY would you want to forgive? Is it to move on with your life? Is it for mental clarity and peace? Forgiveness frees you from the past. It’s a way to learn and understand empathy, compassion, kindness, and love. And though pain is not the ideal way to learn, incredible growth can occur from dark and painful experiences. Forgiveness offers you wings. You become responsible for your own emotions. It gives you the freedom to live your life in the present moment instead of being stuck in the past holding and dragging old stories around with you. Also, acknowledging and feeling the wounds, rather than repressing them, brings much freedom.
How will this help you?
The mind and body are connected. When we free our mind, we free our body. A mentally broken heart can literally lead to physical ailments. So, an unforgiven offense, can rot in our body and exude as ailments. By forgiving, we acknowledge the offense, untangle the pain and suffering and free ourselves from holding on to the tight knots and heavy luggage of the past. These actions don’t come naturally to most of us. We want to ruminate in our pain. For some, we are addicted to our pain. The truth is that pain literally traps us! When we forgive, we give ourselves the unique opportunity of feeling free...emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Forgiveness -- and the idea of it -- take time to get used to. It’s a choice. It takes time. It’s definitely not an overnight process. Healing is cyclical, not linear. With patience, compassion, and love for yourself, and working at understanding what you need to do to move forward, your peace is yours again.
Did you know that I offer 1:1 and group forgiveness coaching? I guide people through a 12 step process that supports you step by step on the path of forgiveness. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, reach out to me via DM me or email me; email@example.com. I would love to support you as you process your pain and find more peace and freedom within. Forgiveness has freed me more than I ever thought possible.