Its been said that forgiveness is never free. Someone has paid the price in some way. So how can you attain freedom through forgiveness?
Well, yes, you’ve guessed it. You have probably paid the price. But the freedom you will attain through forgiveness far exceeds the pain, anguish, suffering, struggle, resentment or angst you are suffering or have suffered. It seems hard to believe this works, but it is quite true.
When you have been hurt, purposefully or not, that pain is an emotionally heavy burden. If you allow yourself to hang onto it and keep lamenting over it, you only recirculate that negative energy and pain with which it was created. It will become a physical and emotional burden, a heavy backpack weighing you down. Physiologically and biochemically you will just keep recreating a circular pattern of pain and hurt within your body. But there is an escape route..if and only if you desire it, you will create it meaningfully and you will live it.
It’s called forgiveness.
Lets be clear. It’s no magic bullet. Just because you tell yourself or someone you “forgive her” for her actions or behavior doesn’t mean your emotional pain and memory will be magically erased. Guess what? The memories may still linger. But each time they resurface, you will whisper a different message to yourself. A message of understanding, compassion and blessings.
There are plenty of ways forgiveness frees you and affords you freedom from past hurt, pain and suffering. But let’s just start with the magic number seven:
1. Forgiveness allows for greater understanding.
To even begin the process of forgiving someone who has wronged you, you must be able to understand this person’s position or point of view. You don’t have to agree with it, you just need to understand it. You need to walk in their shoes for a short time. This is difficult because You are not Them! You don’t possess their characteristics, background, nor their prior conditioning. You didn’t experience what they did, yet, by learning to understand what they were thinking when they said or did things which hurt you, you open the door to empathy. This frees you by allowing you to expand your own feelings to those of others.
2. Forgiveness brings forth your most compassionate self.
Along with understanding, you must learn to develop compassion in order to forgive another. Compassion is the concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Mother Teresa had great compassion for the poor, homeless and the hungry. She felt true compassion for those who were unwanted, unloved and uncared for. Forgiveness requires your sincere compassion for the behavior of the individual who hurt you and your inspired desire to help. This frees you by allowing yourself not only to feel what others may be going through, but to “give” of your heart to relieve them of their suffering.
3. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past.
One of the greatest benefits of forgiveness is that is releases YOU from the bondage of your past pain and suffering. Most people think forgiving another helps the other person who caused the pain. Yes, it may, but greater than that, it allows you (as a victim) the freedom from your own suffering. How beautiful is that? The pure act of forgiveness rewires your emotional chemistry. You no longer need to keep replaying the same painful message. Your body, mind and spirit can finally be in unison.
4. Forgiveness calms you.
When you feel compassion and begin to forgive another, it actually calms you. Your heart rate decreases and you release the bonding hormone oxytocin. Forgiveness has a myriad of physical benefits and helps to free your physical body from the propensity to develop chronic illness and disease. Some health benefits of forgiveness include:
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
5. Forgiveness creates great inner strength.
Being able to forgive someone who has harmed you is a very powerful quality. It takes great strength, understanding, and compassion. It also requires time and patience. These qualities build upon your strength of character and help you to realize that you too are human and have faults. By recognizing and acknowledging your own shortcomings, you develop great self esteem and the ability to view everyone as an equal. No one is greater or worse…each person is on their own path. You begin to develop tolerance for each unique person and their choices. You experience freedom from the judgment of others.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi~
6. Forgiveness opens gates to a bigger spiritual picture.
Forgiveness requires spirituality on some level. Even if you are not a religious person, your ability to truly forgive another opens a beautiful spiritual door. With forgiveness you begin to experience life on a much different level. Forgiveness is not solely a task or a left brained exercise. It becomes attached to your emotional side–the limbic system of your brain...particularly..the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain which deals with your emotion, and somewhere amidst this brain centered activity is your sense of spirituality.
Some brain researchers claim spirituality is linked to activity in the right parietal lobe. Others say many more parts of the brain are involved. Regardless, the interplay of forgiveness and spirituality helps you to view a painful event with a much broader perspective. Feel blessed you are able to see these hurtful events in a much bigger way, leading you to greater understanding.
7. Forgiveness paves the path for resilience and happiness.
Forgiveness is just the prelude to living a happier, healthy life. It paves the way for you to create resilience, which translates into your ability to move through many of life’s challenges and difficulties. It allows you to create better relationships and optimize your well-being. Ultimately, forgiveness frees you and allows you to enjoy and extend your happiness in life, hopefully making your long life one of fulfillment, passion, contentment and giving. Isn’t that really the way you desire to live out your heartbeats?
Only you can choose forgiveness. You need to truly be ready to forgive from the depths of your soul, from your heart of hearts. It has to be real, authentic and actualized, not just words you utter, but enacted with a depth of feeling.