Forgiveness is about freedom. For the person who harmed you yes, but also for you.
Because without forgiveness you can’t find peace.
Forgiveness isn’t about letting people off the hook. It isn’t about not having boundaries and letting people treat you badly, with no reckoning or without letting them know the hurt they caused.
But it is about freeing yourself from an endless cycle of drama that can come from pure reaction. It’s about freeing yourself from someone or something else, which your anger or hatred would otherwise keep you tied to.
It can be hard to forgive because it means letting go of what happened, of the story.
It can be easier to keep blaming, because then you don’t have to take action or move forward. It can be easier to hold onto the anger and the hurt, which is painful but familiar. It keeps you tied to the person or event that hurt you.
It can be much harder to let go, and to take responsibility for the situation you find yourself in.
But you need to let go, in your own time, if you want to live a peaceful and free life.
Looking to see our shared humanity can help. Looking to see your own potential or capacity to hurt others. Looking to see your own innocence, and therefore seeing the innocence of others.
Nobody hurts anyone else unless they are hurting themselves, in the majority of cases. People have to be pretty lost, confused or far away from their true selves to cause serious hurt or harm to another. This doesn’t excuse their behaviour but it can help you to understand, and it can help you to forgive.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re saying what happened was ok. It wasn’t.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning anything awful that’s happened or been done to you. It doesn’t mean it’s ok for someone to hurt you. It isn’t, and you need to fully own and express that hurt. But it doesn’t mean you have to hold onto it.
Letting it go doesn’t diminish the weight of the injury you felt. Holding on isn’t necessary for the significance of the harm to remain. Whatever happens now, nothing will change that and nobody can take it away.
But you can change what happens, and how you feel going forwards.
Forgiveness is for the forgiver more than it is for the one being forgiven.
Because you’re the one that carries the weight of the hurt and the anger. You’re the one that is eaten up by it. You’re the one that remains a victim, and the one left feeling powerless and helpless.
When you forgive you’re taking the reins again. You’re taking responsibility for how you respond to any given situation. You’re deciding that you want to carry love and peace in your heart, instead of any poison.
It’s so natural to want to seek revenge when we’ve been wronged.
But any revenge or hurting back will only bring temporary relief. It’ll make you feel better, but not for long. Because it doesn’t take away the hurt that you sustained in the first place. That remains, and by retaliating you’re sinking to the level of the one that harmed you.
So feel the anger fully. Feel all of it. Feel the hatred. Express in it any way you need to. Realise this is a natural reaction that’s trying to help you assert yourself when you’ve been wronged. Your anger will help strengthen and protect you, so let it.
And then feel the sadness underneath. Feel the hurt. What lessons are there for you in all of this?
How you can tune into, and trust your intuition more? How you can love and care for yourself more?
Forgiveness is good for your health.
You know you’ve fully forgiven if you can genuinely wish the people involved the best.
Life becomes a lot easier when you can accept the apology you never got.
It frees you to live the life that is waiting. It frees you to no longer judge yourself so harshly either.
It allows room for AND. It allows room for more than one explanation. It allows room for weakness and humanity. It allows room for grace and compassion.
And most of all it allows room for you. To be all you were meant to be, free from the hurts of the past. Free of the weights you would otherwise carry forward.
So set yourself free now, and forgive.
* This post was also published on Rebelle Society: