“Every road has some trouble in it- that’s life.” FeatherLeaf
The topic for today is forgiveness and how by forgiving others you could improve your mental health.
What Forgiveness Isn’t
- Forgiveness isn’t minimizing or dismissing the wrong done to you.
- Forgiveness isn’t justifying the wrong done to you.
- Forgiveness isn’t surrender.
- Above all forgiveness isn’t weakness.
Let’s be real, in this life we’ve been hurt by others and we have hurt others. That is just human nature. Accepting this important fact is the genesis of self liberation.
I had a family relationship who had a troubled childhood just as I did. Yet he couldn’t forgive those in his past and let go of the bad things that happened to him. What happened? By clinging on to the past and not finding a way to accept and forgive he poisoned his present life. He was constantly in an angry antagonistic mood. Finally when he was dying from cancer he could let go and see more of what living was meant to be.
What Forgiveness Is
- Forgiveness is liberating.
- Forgiveness is an act of mercy.
- Forgiveness is accepting the wrong and then moving on in life.
How Does One Forgive?
The first step in trying to forgive somebody is acknowledging the pain and wrong that was done to you. If you can’t recognize what is hurting you than how can you deal with it? This takes some self exploration and perhaps some guidance by a friend or mental health practitioner.
Understand that everybody in this life is a fallible human being and that includes yourself. This realization will help you look at things in shades of gray, instead of black and white. For example in my own personal life I had resentment towards my dad because he didn’t involve himself in many aspects of my life. He never went to my ball games or did homework with me. Then as I matured I looked at how he did contribute in a multitude of ways. I understood that he, like all of us, had his positive and negative aspects. So I focused on the good things that he did for me and dismissed the pain of his faults.
Sometimes one has to simply relegate some painful acts as life experience and just accept that you were wronged. I was bullied when I was a youth. People would call me names and mock me. Sometimes things got violent to the point of fist fights. Basically life has given me two alternatives to forgive or not to forgive. I chose forgiveness because it is liberating. I am not condoning the inappropriate behavior but rather accepting it and moving on. Of course if I was in the midst of some affliction the wise thing would be to seek intervention to cause the negativity to stop, if at all possible.
What About The Hard Things In Life?
My friend Peter once said that if we all revealed our worst moments in life we’d see that we’d all have difficulties. That is true but sometimes things done to human beings are very cruel. Rape, child molestation, physical attacks, being a victim of war, people tortured, murder of loved ones, I think you get the point. I have known people who have had these things done to them. I have shared time with them in psychiatric hospitals and I have firsthand seen their pain and torment.
In my first hospitalization there was a waitress who was like a rock. She encouraged me to walk with her up and down the halls of our narrowly confined unit. We talked as we walked passing the time. But the rock would sometimes be overwhelmed by the memories of her mother burning her as a child. At such times she’d break down and weep like a baby. I knew another woman who told me “Every morning I wake up and see the face of my father who raped me.” The first woman was in her middle ages the second much older perhaps approaching seventy. How does one forgive such traumatic things?
The only answer I can give is that you try your best. Holding on to the pain, hurt, anger, hatred, will only poison you. In forgiveness there is liberation and healing.