On World Forgiveness Day: Mastering The Art Of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is perhaps one of the toughest traits to master in this life. Is it a trait though? Or is it a…one-time act? A general behavior? Well, it’s all of these things considering the varying levels at which you must display forgiveness every day. In a sense, if you go around and calmly respond to things like drivers cutting you off or baristas forgetting to leave room at the top of your coffee for cream, you exhibit forgiveness as a personality trait. But, someone who can forgive those little things won’t just as easily forgive, say, infidelity or theft. Those acts of forgiveness are far more labored. They’re more isolated incidents. Forgiving someone for something as massive as stealing from you or cheating on you is a project—not a personality trait. But, learning forgiveness at each of these levels can bring substantial calmness to your life. In honor of World Forgiveness Day, here are tips for mastering the art of forgiveness.
Know that you don’t give away power
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you give away power. Don’t believe that for a second, when you forgive someone, you give away your power. That is in your head—a delusion that’s keeping you from the act of forgiveness. When you forgive, nobody takes anything from you. You give something willingly, but power isn’t what you’re giving away.
In fact, you regain power
Actually, when you forgive someone, you regain power. You’re no longer allowing their action to affect your life. You’re releasing what they did from your subconscious and in that way, it no longer subtly affects everything you do. Withholding forgiveness is like an illness that slowly makes you weaker.
And you regain energy
If you won’t forgive someone, then that means you’re harboring some anger and resentment. Both of those emotions drain you of energy. When you forgive someone, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted. You’ll wonder why you held onto that resentment for so long.
Don’t expect someone to make it up to you
If you only forgive someone in the hopes that they’ll do something to make it up to you, then that isn’t true forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift, and in the true spirit of a gift, you give it, expecting nothing in return.
But accept it if they try to
With the last point in mind, sometimes, a person will want to try to make things up to you. This can be an important part of their healing. If they do this, accept it. Don’t believe the delusion that, once again, you’re giving away your power by letting them make it up to you. Accepting their repentance isn’t the same as supporting the bad thing they did.
Forgiving doesn’t mean allowing
Understand that forgiving someone doesn’t mean you’re saying what they did is okay. If you believe this, that’s probably what’s stopping you from forgiving. But you can forgive someone, and still acknowledge that what they did was not okay.
You can forgive and walk away
Also know that, you have the choice to forgive someone and walk away from the relationship. Forgiving someone—like a boyfriend who has cheated or a friend who has betrayed you—doesn’t have to mean keeping them in your life. It just means releasing the anger around their act, but that act can still be the event that ends the relationship. And if that’s what you need, that’s okay, too.
You could be the one who changes them
You actually have a lot of power to influence when you forgive someone. Perhaps you’re the first person to forgive them for this act. Everyone else lashed out at them, cut them out of their lives, and were cruel to them. This caused them to be bitter, and only do the bad thing they did over and over again. By forgiving someone, you could put a stop to their cycle.
But, if you enable them, it’s not a huge deal
Don’t, however, expect that your forgiveness will change a person. Be glad if it does, but don’t count on it. In fact, know that sometimes, when you forgive someone, they can just take that as an excuse to go out in the world, and keep doing what they did. If that happens, you’ll just have to accept that, too. You can’t fix everyone; you can only make sure that you do what is important to you, which is to forgive. What they do with that forgiveness is their business.
If you enable them, release that from your conscious
If you do learn that you forgave someone for a bad act, and they just went out and did it to other people, you have to let that go. Again, a lot of times, forgiving someone else is just about maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself—with your subconscious. Release the outside results.
Understanding isn’t the same as allowing
If the person who hurt you wants to try to make you understand the pain and suffering they’ve been through that caused them to do what they did, just listen. Listening to their story isn’t the same as condoning what they did. In fact, it can help you forgive.
Also, you don’t have to understand to forgive
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t understand why the person did what they did. That’s okay, too. You can still forgive, even if you don’t understand. Remember that when you forgive, you aren’t asking for anything in return—including an explanation.
Sometimes, you have to forgive repeatedly
There may be some people in your life who you can’t quite remove from your life, like family. That person may never learn from their mistakes, and you may need to forgive them again and again. When you forgive, you have to be ready for the fact that it won’t be the last time. So you cannot forgive with the condition they don’t repeat their act. True forgiveness is unconditional.
Remember times you’ve been forgiven
Every so often, if you want to stay in the practice of forgiveness, it is very helpful to remember times someone forgave you. Remember how impactful that was.
Believe in paying it forward
Consider forgiveness an act of paying it forward. Perhaps someone will forgive you one day. Perhaps even this person you are forgiving now will remember this, and be in a position to forgive you one day.