“To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~Wayne Dyer
When we have been deeply hurt or betrayed by a friend, loved one, or even an acquaintance, it can be incredibly difficult to let it go and forgive them. Some acts seem almost unforgivable, but really not much is.
My belief is that people who hurt us are more often than not in a lot of pain themselves, and they’re making choices and decisions based on their own wounds.
I’ve spent the past two years working hard to forgive someone I loved deeply who hurt me. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s taken a huge amount of time looking within, acknowledging my own mistakes in life, and seeing all the reasons it’s imperative I forgive others for their wrongs. They deserve it as much as I do.
It’s one of the most powerful and loving things we can do, and it ultimately brings us peace of mind and the loving energy we deserve in our lives.
So, why should you let go of your resentment and rage and forgive someone who has hurt you? A few reasons that have been motivators for me:
1. Forgiving allows the other person to work on themselves.
Nobody is perfect. We have all had times in our lives when things have gotten out of control or we acted in ways that weren’t in alignment with who we want to be in this world.
Yes, sometimes people do hurtful things because they are flat out selfish, but most of the time we screw up without meaning to. We all deserve a second chance to do better.
Receiving a second chance when I have hurt someone else has allowed me to step up my game and prove to myself and to them that I can do better.
Sometimes it’s taken time for me to really get it. We don’t change our thought patterns and behaviors overnight. But I know that when somebody has forgiven me, it has forced me to take stock of my actions and motives and work on myself. And in the process, I have shown up as the woman I want to be in this world and proven to myself and to others that I can change.
We wouldn’t even bother trying if another person hadn’t forgiven our actions as a way of saying, “I can let this go, and I trust and hope this experience has taught you something.”
2. If we show others compassion, we learn how to develop it for ourselves.
Often when we are holding onto resentment toward someone who hurt us, it’s about our ego. We want them to suffer as much as we did.
One of my close friends has been teaching me about compassion. I don’t show much for myself, so I have a difficult time showing it for others. But as I have slowly learned to develop compassion for people who have hurt me, digging deep into the reasons why they may have done it, it’s allowed me to develop more compassion for myself for the things I have done.
Developing compassion for someone who has hurt you is a powerful and integral step toward healing for both of you.
3. Forgiveness helps everybody involved move on.
Not all people and situations are meant to be a part of our lives forever. Sometimes, they are there for a period of time to teach us something, and once their purpose is served, they move on and the next chapter of our story begins.
As difficult as it may be to let people go, whether they are a long time friend, a family member, a spouse, or a lover, when we forgive them we create a space for them to move onto their next chapter, as well as ourselves.
If we’re holding onto the old story of “what they did to us,” we can’t create a space for better things to come into our life.
4. When we know better, we do better.
I live by Maya Angelou’s quote that for most of us, “when we know better, we do better.” I truly believe that people don’t go around intentionally trying to hurt others, especially those closest to us.
Most people are doing the very best they can with what they know, how they were raised, and where they are at in life. I know that I personally have often made the same mistakes over and over again until I really got the lesson and developed the tools to do things differently. When I’ve known better, I’ve done better.
Try to recognize that every experience in your life, especially the most painful ones, are teachers that reveal to us what we still need to master. You have the opportunity to become better if you can avoid holding onto bitterness.
5. Without forgiveness we don’t grow spiritually.
The process of spiritual growth is infinite. Some of our spiritual lessons are to learn compassion, self-love, and unconditional love for others. We are still operating at the bottom realms of our spiritual growth when we are carrying around feelings of hate and bitterness and thoughts of revenge.
When we receive somebody else’s forgiveness, I believe we graduate one step up that spiritual ladder. Whether we feel we deserved it or not, somebody gave it to us. And when we receive such a beautiful and selfless gift from somebody else, we are compelled to give it back.
This mutual exchange of loving energy between people who have wronged us is a beautiful step forward on our spiritual journey.
The bottom line is, forgiveness is something we ultimately do for us, not the other person. And without it, the pain inside our hearts will never heal.
Remorseful woman image via Shutterstock