Finding Freedom in ForgivenessMar 26, 2021
Forgiveness can be tough, right? I used to think so. We liken it to condoning behavior or accepting an apology. But it is neither of those things.
Forgiveness is simply deciding to stop feeling angry and resentful. That’s it.
The only action that forgiveness requires is our own personal decision to stop feeling angry and resentful (and then a few surprisingly simple steps, which I share below.) No other actions are necessary, including:
- Having a conversation with the other person
- Telling them that you’ve forgiven them
- Accepting an apology from someone
- Allowing someone back into your life
- Condoning behavior
Those actions are all optional when it comes to forgiveness. Optional, but not mandatory.
Forgiveness is truly an inside job. The only person who needs to know that you’ve forgiven someone is you. Forgiveness is just another name for freedom: freedom from anger and resentment.
American author Jonathan Lockwood Huie is quoted as saying, “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
When to forgive
Only you can decide when you are ready to let go of anger and resentment. Sometimes we just want to feel those, and that’s okay. Just know that the other person does not experience your anger and resentment – only you do. Also know that your anger and resentment does not punish the other person. They only punish you.
As the old saying goes, it is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to get sick.
A powerful question to ask yourself is whether you like how anger and resentment feel, or if you are ready to shed those feelings. You always have the choice, and if you want to, you can make that choice today.
Why we feel anger and resentment
The person’s words or actions happened. Then you had a thought about it. That thought creates how you feel. We feel anger and resentment because of what we are thinking about the person and their actions. Our thoughts seem absolutely true, but they are not serving us because they create anger and resentment.
While the person’s words or actions are outside of your control, your thoughts are completely within your control. This means that the person actually has no power over you. Your power is in your thinking.
How to forgive
- Consider the person’s words or action and write down all the thoughts you have about it. Notice that these thoughts create anger and resentment.
- Next, ask your brain to consider what other thoughts might also be true. Now, your brain won’t want to do this work because it is committed to the current thoughts and it is certain that they are true. Simply ask your brain to brainstorm possibilities. There are no right or wrong answers. Just make a list. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Hurt people sometimes hurt people.
- She/he did the best they could given what they knew at the time.
- Just because she/he doesn’t love me the way I would like, doesn’t mean that they don’t love me with all they have.
- It was always supposed to happen this way.
- It was painful, and yet it shaped me into who I am today.
- Review your list of new thoughts. Try them on like you would an outfit. See how each make you feel. Select the ones that feel true and that create a feeling that you want to feel. Ones that feel better than anger and resentment.
Brains are creatures of habit. Your brain will likely still offer you the well-practiced thoughts of the past, and you will then feel anger and resentment creep back into your life. That’s to be expected. This is your chance to redirect your brain toward the new thoughts that you created and tested in step 3.
Over time, these new thoughts will become your default thinking.
Welcome to the freedom of forgiveness.
Reminder to forgive yourself, too.
If you are spiraling in anger and resentment and can’t seem to break free, I’ve curated the best tools to help. My private coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help you find your way to forgiveness, on your terms. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and take bigger strides toward a life you love, simply apply here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.
Learn more about Life Reconstructed.
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