When you forgive, you get your life back. When you forgive, you free your mind. When you forgive, you can continue to put your energies on your priorities, and not pettiness. When you don’t forgive, you don’t act the way you normally do, but you act according to your bitterness. In so doing, you allow your un-forgiveness to keep controlling you.
Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation, if the other person is repentant, but don’t drop your standards to reconcile with people. If you do, they will hurt you again. Forgiveness does not mean that you condone what they did--forgiveness is letting go of the offense they caused you, so that you can have your life back. However, when you forgive people, you can still remember what they did, but you stop blaming them, because you know that everyone can make a mistake. Here are ten tips that will help you to forgive:
Henrietta Elegunde is a life coach and a motivational speaker. Learn more about her services at her website, Power-Within-Reach.
- Recognize that un-forgiveness leads to bitterness, which can disturb our inner peace. Bitterness leads to many unwanted negative emotions like rage, resentment, hostility and jealousy. All of these emotions lead to inner torment, which we don’t need. These emotions can immobilize us, by making us fixate on the offense and not on the solution. Another thing is that un-forgiveness can lead to illness. Research shows that bitterness can result in long-term health problems such as depression and stress.
- Accept that the offense is not because of who you are, or necessarily what you did, but that the offense happened because of the person’s way of thinking, bad habits or bad taste. And remember that no one is perfect. Remember that forgiveness is about your own peace of mind. So don’t wait for them to apologize, or allow them to further disturb your well-being. Offload your emotional excess baggage now by forgiving them.
- Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness hardly occurs instantly. Forgiveness can only start as a choice. If you are waiting to feel like forgiving the person before forgiving them, you might be waiting forever. You will never feel like forgiving someone who has caused you pain. You have to choose to forgive for your own peace of mind. And even after you have forgiven them, it might take some time for the resentment to totally go away. You have to keep reminding yourself that you have chosen to forgive them. And after a while, the negative feeling will leave. This is how you reprogram your mind and your mindset, as opposed to holding onto bitterness.
- Assertiveness. Assertiveness promotes looking for resolution, instead of naming, blaming and shaming, which is tormenting and unproductive. Being assertive is giving an honest expression to our feelings, opinions, and needs, in order to develop a win-win solution with people. Tell the person how they made you feel, in a "as matter of fact” way as possible, without reacting, but responding to the offense.
- Endurance and resilience. The more you learn to forgive, the stronger you become. And the less easy of a target you become. Endurance is the ability to exhibit self-control. For some odd reason, people like to torment people who lack self-control or react to pain a lot. But if they see you are strong, they will feel ashamed, and soon move on to the next easy target. On the other hand, resilience means being adaptable to life's challenges and setbacks. The quicker you forgive, the quicker you will bounce back and become free. No pain, no gain…
- Reconciliation. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to reconcile. Some company we keep is damaging. Don’t allow unrepentant people to continually hurt you, even if they keep saying that they are sorry. Apologies that people don’t really mean are highly overrated. Words are cheap and actions speak louder than voice. Forgive and move on when people keep hurting you. Don’t be anybody’s emotional punching bag. People can damage other people.
- Be better not bitter. Be better than the pettiness that goes on with un-forgiveness. You have heard people say, "Forgive but don’t forget." But I say to you, "Forgive in order to be able to forget the pain you’ve been caused." Focusing on pettiness will steal your focus, your joy and your time from your priorities. And in order to be successful, you need to focus on your priorities. Focus affects what we work on. You are less likely to work on what is not on your mind.
- Conflict resolution. In the Bible, Jesus told us how to resolve conflicts. And the idea is as follows. If someone offends you, go and have a word with them one to one. If they won’t listen to you or they are being unreasonable about it, speak to them about it in front of another person or a couple of people, so that you at least have a witness in case they twist what you said, or they twist what happened. If they refuse to listen to you or they are being unreasonable about it, report them to someone in charge, depending on where you are. For example, you could report someone to your supervisor, your teacher or your pastor. If they won’t listen to you or they are being unreasonable about it, even after all these efforts, minimize your dealings with them, forgive them and move on.
- Have a boundary. A boundary is a set of limits that we expect other people to respect, in order to be our true selves. A weak boundary will make you an easy target for people, and too much familiarity breeds contempt. Also watch how your friends make you feel when they come around you. I mean, do they make you feel unstoppable or worthless? Try to choose friends that encourage mutual respect, friends that celebrate your uniqueness, or friends that make you feel like being a better version of yourself. These kinds of friends are less likely to be offensive, and less likely to need your forgiveness.
- Write your feelings out. Write your feelings out on a piece of paper without holding back. Pour your heart out on a paper about your pain and burn the paper afterwards, to release yourself from the emotional bondage of bitterness. Then move on.....you have better ways to spend your time and energy!