As Brene Brown says, “To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human.”
While forgiving others who have hurt us is difficult and vulnerable, in the end, it greatly benefits one’s mental health and overall well-being. To be clear, forgiving others does not mean you agree with or condone hurtful or harmful behavior. Forgiveness does not mean your feelings don’t matter or that you want to repair the relationship. Forgiveness simply means emotionally processing the painful feelings and emotions that are causing distress.
The process of forgiveness will look and feel different for everyone. You have the right to make choices, set limits, create boundaries, and set your own pace and timeline. Here are some helpfulful reminders to consider for your forgiveness process.
Process Your Pain
You can’t heal your pain if you don’t feel your pain. Open up to your pain slowly, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to identify, acknowledge, and feel your emotions deeply and fully in a safe place with a healthy support system. Cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes to process the painful emotions. Remember, to heal you must feel.
There may be opportunities for self-forgiveness when we blame ourselves for a mistake we made or regret a life choice. Self-forgiveness is not about condoning or approving of behaviors that have hurt others or ourselves; It’s about fully accepting the reality of what has happened and holding ourselves appropriately accountable. It’s time to forgive your own humanity and any wrongdoing to yourself or others.
Understanding and Acceptance
When we try to understand and accept how someone has acted the way they have, it can reduce the intensity of the painful feelings. Accept that you cannot change the past. No matter how much you wish this pain could be reversed, your anger toward the person won’t redeem what they have done or create safety for you. Allow yourself to move forward without the past pain and reclaim the definition of your life and your future.
Remember forgiveness is an individual and private process. It is crucial to honor and respect your own feelings and needs at your own pace. If you’d like to speak to someone please reach out to us at the BTRC. We are here to support your process.