November 26, 2013
By Ally Hamilton
Why You'll Find Freedom In Forgiveness
The thing about forgiveness is that people equate it with condoning whatever it is that happened, but that's not it at all. When we forgive people, it does not mean we have to invite them back into our lives. Forgiveness is a way of unhooking your journey from something that happened long ago. Your past does not have to own you or define you; you can liberate yourself. When you relinquish your rage and move toward forgiveness, you rob the past situation or person of the control it, or they, had over you.
Anger is a psychological defense mechanism. It takes quite a lot of energy to stay angry. A significant amount of time is devoted thinking about this past. Sometimes acceptance is the only closure you're going to get. You may never hear an apology, or see any evidence of remorse. What is important is the quality of your own life, and your ability to feel hopeful and optimistic.
Forgiveness is a private matter, you don't have to share it with anyone. The past cannot be changed; whatever has happened, has happened. People make huge mistakes and small ones as well. People can be scared, or tormented or numb. Given that our time here is finite, it's very sad when family members or partners or friends stop speaking to one another over something someone said ten years ago at a wedding.
Sometimes we can't forgive ourselves. We've done something and we have such deep regret, we don't know how to like ourselves, let alone love ourselves. Every single one of us will make mistakes. And when you can find compassion for yourself around that, you'll find it for others, too.
A big part of being at peace has to do with what you decide you're going to focus on, with choosing one thought over another. This doesn't mean you deny the pain in this world. It just means you understand anything you feed will grow and strengthen. You can feed your anger, but love feels so much better. That will blossom around you and lift you up, whereas anger will darken you and weigh you down. You may not be ready to forgive yet.
Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, and you surely deserve to open it. It won't change your past, but you can bet it will change your future.