We have all had the experience at one time or another, where we have hurt or offended someone we care about, either intentionally or unintentionally. Can you remember how you felt? Then can you recall the way you felt when this person forgave you for what you did? Did you feel free from the chains of guilt? In being freed from guilt, most of us feel tremendous gratitude for being granted the gift of forgiveness. In thinking on these life experiences, it allows each of us to consider what a gift it is to receive forgiveness. But, is it also possible that giving forgiveness to others can also be a gift to you?
Have you ever considered how giving someone forgiveness is actually a gift to yourself? Well, it is. Forgiveness is a choice...an active decision to let go of bitterness and resentment towards a situation or a person who has wronged you. By choosing to let go, one of the greatest benefits is that you release yourself of the burden of caring negative feelings, such as anger, towards the person who has offended you and refocus your attention on something that is more positive and meaningful.
This is not always as easy as it seems. Here are some things to consider in forgiving someone who has hurt you:
Forgiving Someone Who Has Wronged You
1) Remember what forgiveness is NOT: forgiveness is not condoning the behavior of someone who has hurt you or saying what they did was okay. It also doesn't mean that you have to trust them or even have them actively back in your life again, depending on the circumstances and your relationship with them.
2) Recognize that you cannot control the actions that others take, but you CAN control yours. Understanding this can feel empowering and provide a better sense of personal control of the situation.
3) Holding on to a grudge, anger or bitterness does not bring justice to the other person or hold them accountable for the hurt they have caused you. Holding on to these negative feelings only affects you and can often leave you feeling powerless over these emotions.
4) In forgiving someone who has hurt you, you are released from being the victim. You can give forgiveness because you choose to do so, thus taking back your power in a situation where you may have felt powerless and regain control of your own happiness.
5) Giving forgiveness helps us gain a greater appreciation for compassion and empathy for ourselves and others. We recognize that we all make mistakes and sometimes these offenses are often not intended. As we work through conflict and find resolution, we learn important interpersonal relationships skills that we hope will be reciprocated when needed.
I hope that these have been helpful tips for you! Thanks for reading!
Written by Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFTA
Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFTA is a marriage and family therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Emily enjoys doing individual counseling, couples counseling and family counseling. Emily specializes in women's issues, specifically maternal mental health and reproductive mental health.
Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.