Every major religion in this world teaches its believers that they should practice forgiveness. You’re taught about forgiveness when you are a child; it’s an important part of living in a community with other people. It should be something that comes easily to us, something that’s second nature like making friends and finding love, yet forgiveness is hard, and it continues to be hard throughout our lives.
Part of it may be that humans are hard-wired to retaliate. You want to get even, so you hold on to that anger without realizing that the person you’re hurting most is yourself. Forgiveness also requires us to let go of our pride—and that’s never easy. It feels like by forgiving you show weakness and give the other person an “out.” In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a lot of strength to forgive and the act of forgiveness itself gives us a lot of strength and pride in return.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the other person is no longer responsible for what they did. It doesn’t mean you condone their behavior or the hurtful words they said. It simply means that you choose to free yourself from the pain and anger the situation is causing you. It means that you give yourself permission to move on and heal.
Let’s look at it from the flipside. We all do and say things that can be hurtful. We all make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. I’m sure you can think of quite a few things right now that you aren’t proud of. I’m sure there are many people out there who have forgiven you for hurtful things you’ve said and done.
While I’m sure you’ve felt bad in most of those situations, I’m equally sure you’ve forgiven yourself and moved on. I’m also sure you would like those people to forgive you. You probably didn’t mean half of what you said. It’s easy to lash out and be hurtful in the heat of the moment. We all get angry. It happens. If you would like others to forgive you, doesn’t it make sense then for you to forgive as well?
Keep that in mind as you work your way towards forgiving others. Yes, it can be hard to let go of the pain, but keep in mind that you’re not letting the other person off the hook. You forgive, but it doesn’t mean that their words and actions didn’t hurt. It simply means that you’re ready to move on and heal. In the end, you’ll find that while forgiving is hard, it’s well worth it, and you will end up feeling a lot better and happier for having done it.