Every time I forgive someone, I’m giving a tremendous gift… to myself!
Traditionally we see forgiveness as something we give to others. But I believe, if we are wise, forgiveness is something we take for ourselves. Here’s why:
When we feel slighted or wronged by someone we can start to invest a lot of energy into the situation. We look for confederates to validate how we were wronged or victimized. We may plot revenge. We may seek to broadcast the incident in order to “correct” their reputation. Most importantly, however, we hang on to it. We start investing energy in taking offense and being upset. How long we continue is up to us.
Forgiveness is frequently misunderstood in this context. Forgiveness is not condoning or ratifying what they did. Forgiveness is the act of releasing myself from having to waste fresh energy and thoughts on a past I didn’t create and certainly cannot change.
When I get truly upset, my body produces physiological consequences that deplete my resources and diminish my immune system, rendering me more vulnerable to illness. I can literally worry myself sick.
Forgiveness gives me permission to move forward with my life rather than remain stuck in a negative place created by someone else. Many wise people suggest unkind acts are really an expression of the perpetrator’s pain or fear, the victim just happens to be there at the time. In this view, forgiveness is releasing the issues of others and getting back on my own path.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m OK with what you did. It means I’m letting your problems remain yours and I’m returning my focus to my own goals.
For me, this is a precious gift indeed!