The Power Of Forgiveness
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The Power of Forgiveness by Nelson Mandela
Forgiveness – to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offence, flaw or mistake.
I found this fascinating because most of us think that forgiveness is about telling a person what they have done wrong in order to forgive or someone to tell us where we went wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Although the details of my story may be different to your story, the process of getting stuck in our story or in suffering in parts of our lives are the same for all of us.
Forgiveness is when you STOP feeling angry or resentful – it is NOT about your actions but your feelings. And these two are very different. You can change your actions and say you have forgiven but that is not true forgiveness. You can say I forgive you and even act polite & friendly when around the other person but if you still strong anger or resentment then you have not forgiven. It is simply changing your action – not your feeling.
When do you need to forgive someone?
You only ever need to forgive someone when you need to stop feeling angry or resentful. When you want to stop feeling anger is the time you want to forgive.
Most people think that when you are feeling anger & resentment towards someone, they experience it too. But that is not true. They experience their interpretation of your behaviour. Let’s say your behaviour is yelling or giving someone the silent treatment or being rude – all because of something they did – an offence, a flaw or a mistake. We often think that our emotion of anger & resentment is somehow punishing the other person. This is why we do not forgive for fear that if we do, we are no longer punishing the person for wronging us.
BUT in truth, it is only punish ng us.
How does anger & resentment feel?
When you are feeling angry – it is severe annoyance and hostility. Last week we talked about we talked about challenging people and I asked – What is the person you want to be? Do you want to feel angry & resentful? Is this being true to the person you want to be?
Pain – may be physical or emotional.
This triggers the thoughts about the person/experience
And this results in anger.
Anger affects your thinking. Memory, creativity, and concentration weaken. Your thoughts become accusatory, exaggerated, and rigid. You treat assumptions as facts; you may become irrational.
Now we know how anger & resentment feels, I will ask you – Why do you choose to feel this way?
We have no control over what someone else feels, thinks and behaves. If you think by not forgiving someone it is somehow serving you – even after we have looked at how anger can affect your thinking, and somehow it is punishing or hurting them, you have it all backwards.
When do you want to forgive someone?
If you want to forgive someone, I will first ask you “Why do you feel angry?”
Now this is where most people of my clients tell all about what the other person did wrong and how it is such an unforgivable thing. But think about it… you are holding onto an anger, a resentment that is causing you pain – hoping it is punishing them. And the secret is you have the power to remove your pain.
Let’s look at this on an even deeper level –
Your Thoughts PROTECT Your Feelings And The Way You Feel Is How You Live Your Life…
Our greatest form of protection of our feelings – which are precious – against what other people do are our thoughts!!! And the best thing about that is we have total control of it. YEAH!!!!
Maybe when you were a child and you were emotionally immature, people could hurt you and they did hurt you & you have never forgiven them. BUT that anger does not have to exist anymore – they no longer have the power over you. The sad thing is most of us do not PROTECT ourselves.
So let’s say you have decided you are ready to forgive someone purely because you want to stop feeling angry. That’s fantastic that you are taking RESPONSIBILITY for your emotions – you have the ability to respond however you choose.
Forgiveness is about changing how we feel, not how we behave. Some people say they have forgiven and act kind or friendly towards the person. But inside they are seething and the anger only builds. Think of when you were a child and you fought with your sibling. You were told to kiss and make up even though your brother humiliated you infant of your friends. Eventually the anger grows and often results in an explosion.
Some people decide they are ready to forgive but they decide to never see the person again. And that is totally a choice. Forgiveness is about you – changing your thoughts & therefore your feelings and has nothing to do with the other person. They don’t even have to know. They never have to know. It’s not about them.. it’s about making you feel better.
Some people struggle with forgiveness because they think they are then condoning the persons behaviour. And this is interesting. What do we know about other people??
- We know we cannot control other people
- We cannot make other people think how we want them to think.
- No matter how hard we try in life – someone will always dislike us, be disappointed by us, love us & loath us. The power you have is to decide what you are going to make everything mean to you.
I’ll share a little secret with you… the less you judge – the better you will feel. The less you make life filled with what is right and what is wrong – the happier you will become. Listening more…judging less & not beating yourself up along the way.
AND the less judgement you put on yourself, the greater your level of forgiveness with yourself will be. You forgive yourself for yourself, not for other people, even they do not forgive you. You can take actions to seek their forgiveness but they have the choice to decide if they want to change the way they feel. Most people like people who are either like themselves or who are like how they want to be.
We do not have to be victims of our experiences or the way in which we tell our stories. Often our stories are the way we define ourselves or justify our behaviour. We hold the power to change the way we tell our stories and what they mean. Is it time to give up the stories that limit us, the people who have hurt us and we have struggled to let it go and create a new story – a new path that serves you better.
I’ll finish with – The things that held you down may one day be the same things that hold you up.
Linking up with Kylie for #IBOT