Friday, February 15, 2008

The Courage to Forgive

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I sometimes think that forgiving is one of the bravest things we humans can do. What incredible strength of heart it takes to let go of an injury suffered because of another's behavior. And yet, as you know, if you don't forgive, you just keep suffering. The injury festers inside of you, keeping you feeling like a victim--angry, betrayed, righteous. When you feel victimized, the emotions you experience make you feel ugly inside and weak, and they can even make you sick physically.

So if anger just makes you keep re-experiencing the original injury, why would you hold onto it? Because unconsciously, many of us have twisted ideas such as, "If I stay angry, he won't do it again." "If I stay angry, I'll have some power over him." "If I don't forgive him, he'll suffer like I'm suffering." But in reality, your anger can never protect you from hurt. It can't control another's behavior. It can't help you in any way. It only eats away at your joy and beauty.

I say it's brave to forgive because in spite of the futility of staying angry, forgiving might feel like letting go of a life-raft; you might fear that forgiving releases the perpetrator to hurt you again. Plus, anger gives you a screen behind which you can hide the searing pain you feel. The energy of anger is so very consuming, so very distracting, that it forces sadness and grief to take a back seat. Once you forgive, you're left with an avalanche of hurt that you have to manage, and facing that is so very frightening. So often when I coach people around a betrayal or hurt, they say they want to be free of anger, and yet they cling to it, terrified of what the anger masks.

But facing that fear, stripping away the anger, and forgiving the person who hurt you is the only way to recover your own wholeness, your integrity, your center. When you forgive, the message you give yourself is, "I'm stronger than the pain, than the anger, than the humilation I've experienced. I'm too precious to waste my life fretting and steaming. I'm a beautiful fountain of love inside, not a steaming cauldron of rage. And even though you may now feel profound, unmoderated grief and pain, you also feel the beauty and purity of your own heart, and you finally begin to know that you'll heal.

Many blessings,
Hiyaguha, the Life-Change Coach


Dorothea "Dee" Buckingham said...

I truly believe the bravest thing we do is to allow ourselves to be loved.

As far as the forgiveness part, Hiyaguha, I've got to stick to my philosophy that some people, some acts don't deserve to be forgiven. What I can say is simply that they are in the past.

Anonymous said...

When you forgive someone of an offense, you are not doing it for them, you do it for yourself. We don't realize this until after the 'forgiveness' takes place. God's Holy Word says we MUST forgive or we will not be forgiven. I forgave a major offense and it has made a huge difference in my life!! I learned that WILLINGNESS to forgive plays a major role. If you are willing, God will help you to overcome!!