Empower Yourself with Forgiveness

selective focus photography of woman holding yellow petaled flowersForgiveness is a gift that can be extremely difficult to give and quite humbling to receive. We might feel that the person who needs forgiveness doesn’t deserve it; we might feel that we don’t deserve the forgiveness that someone offers. The nature of forgiveness to be a gift to the receiver is obvious, but its potential to be a gift to the giver might not be so apparent–especially when forgiveness is difficult to give or doesn’t even seem to be an option. Forgiving someone, especially someone we’re hesitant–maybe even loathe–to forgive, empowers us. When we experience a situation that calls for forgiveness, we’re living in a negative place–a place of anger, bitterness, and possibly despair. We feel victimized. In fact, we exist day-to-day as a victim of our offender and of ourselves. We are victims not only of the actions against us but also of our own anger, bitterness, and despair. Forgiveness helps us to de-victimize ourselves.

 

We might feel that our only power over our offender lies in our not forgiving.

 

We might feel that someone who has victimized us doesn’t deserve our forgiveness. That’s an understandable attitude, but it isn’t a healthy one. We might feel that forgiving our offender makes us vulnerable, makes us seem weak. We might feel that our only power over our offender lies in our not forgiving. However, refusing to forgive leads us to harboring feelings of anger, bitterness, and despair, which perpetuates our victimization.

Refusing to forgive eliminates our power

Every day that we think about the offense against us, we give the offender more and more power and control over us. Depending upon the severity of the offense, our trust in others might be destroyed; our desire to forgive others of future and of less serious offenses might be eliminated. We might feel vulnerable; we might become bitter. The offense and the offender have power over our feelings and our perspective. They control us. Not forgiving ensures that we harm ourselves.

 

Forgive: from the Latin perdonare, “to give completely without reservation”

 

Considering the origin of the word forgive, we see what a magnanimous act forgiveness can be. Depending on the motivation for our offering of forgiveness (is it truly to pardon the offender or just to heal ourselves?), the magnanimity of our forgiveness might directed to the offender, ourselves, or both equally. It’s okay if our motivation to forgive is completely self-serving. Why? Because within that “selfish” motivation lie our sense of control and our healing.

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When it seems like someone’s actions toward you have left you angry, bitter, and powerless, you still have the power to forgive. Here are a couple of ideas to inspire and nurture this power and to achieve empowerment:

*Consider writing this person a letter of forgiveness. If you’re not ready to offer forgiveness, write the letter in your journal or keep it in an envelope to send later. If you’d rather offer your forgiveness in person, then use your journal to plan out what you would like to say.

*Explore the situation by writing about it from your perspective and then again from the offender’s perspective. You might not know what motivated the action against you, but revisiting it from another perspective will allow you to engage your moral imagination and identify with the other person, thereby bringing empathy and compassion to your perspective of the situation and/or to your relationship with the person (if there was one to begin with). Considering the problem from the other’s perspective, whether or not it is purely speculative, provides you with more avenues by which to lead yourself to forgiveness and healing.

What do you think?
*Please share your thoughts and/or experiences in the comments section*

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