When we are hurt, it can eat us alive on the inside. Thoughts like, “How could they?”, “What did I do to deserve this?”, and “What is wrong with me?” play an incessant loop in our heads. We are sure that the ones who have wronged us are pleased with themselves and eagerly plotting their next attack.
Sure, sometimes that’s true and those habitual offenders are just mean, nasty, and hateful. Sometimes, however, the people who have wronged us had no intention of hurting us and even unaware of our hurt.
Either way, hurt is hurt. We may nurse our wounds, plot revenge, hold grudges, or shut down. We may even remove ourselves from their lives. None of these approaches are incredibly healthy because none of them make the pain disappear.
It is only through forgiveness that we are released from the pain caused by others.
Many of us are hesitant to forgive because we feel it excuses bad behavior, but that’s not accurate. When we forgive someone, we are simply freeing ourselves from the power they hold over us.
Forgiveness is something we must do for ourselves. It isn’t done for the other person. In fact, sometimes those who hurt us have no desire to be forgiven. It just doesn’t matter to them at all.
We have a choice to make in order to forgive: do I want to allow this person to continue living rent free in my head and creating toxic thoughts, or do I want to move forward with my life? The choice belongs to no one but us.
When we refuse to forgive someone, we are actually only hurting ourselves. We replay the incident over and over while our anger/fear/insecurities build continuously. We harbor animosity over something that may not have even been intentional. We rob ourselves of an abundant life because we focus on the wrong things.
When we choose to forgive, we free ourselves from the prison of living inside our heads, as well as from the power the other person has over our thoughts. We are able to focus on the right things and move past those painful events.
However, just because we forgive someone does not mean we open ourselves back up to be hurt again in the same way by that person. We can – and should – create realistic boundaries to keep ourselves safe from harm, but not at the expense of isolating ourselves.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing abuse, nor does it mean forgetting the offense. Forgiveness merely means letting go of the hurt and choosing to live an abundant life with an open heart. It means choosing the high road. It means blessing others. It means choosing peace for yourself.