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Forgiveness: It’s For You, Not For Them

red rose photoIf you’ve ever been abused, you may be very familiar with anger, blame and resentment.

When we’ve experienced abuse…

We’re filled with anger and rage at our abuser(s) for what they did. They violated us in one way or another and anger is a very appropriate response to that violation.

We blame our abuser(s) for how their violation impacted and is still impacting our lives. For all of the trauma, the pain and the shame we have suffered and continue to suffer.

We resent our abusers for not honoring our choice, not respecting our bodies, not treating us with dignity. We resent them for how their abuse has led us to not honoring our choices, not respecting our bodies and not treating ourselves with dignity.

On the one hand – of course! Of course we’re going to feel all of this. Abuse is wrong. Nobody should ever have to experience it. All those who have ever committed abuse should pay, right?

But the problem is, all of our anger, rage, blame and resentment do not do anything to harm abusers – it’s not making them pay. Instead, it works against us. It keeps us locked in the cage of abuse. It’s making us pay for these abuses. And it’s keeping us in the cycle of abuse.

That is why forgiveness is one of the essential keys that can unlock us from the cage of abuse, and from the anger, blame and resentment.

Many people view forgiveness as something we do for the other person – whether or not we knew the abuser(s). They think, “Well, I’m supposed to let them off the hook and quit being angry with them. I’m supposed to be okay that all of that happened.”

That’s not true though. That is not true forgiveness. (No wonder so many people resist forgiveness or think they’re doing it wrong.)

We don’t choose forgiveness to avoid feeling the pain of being abused: that’s not true forgiveness; it’s a bypass.

We don’t choose forgiveness to let our abuser(s) off the hook: we choose forgiveness in order to fully heal from the abuse and the impact it’s had on all areas of our lives.

We don’t choose forgiveness for our abuser(s): we choose forgiveness for ourselves.

Forgiveness is the ability to find the space inside where we can ultimately experience peace and well being; where we can let go of the charge we’ve carried around the abuse, the abuser, anyone connected to the abuse and ourselves.

When we let go of the charge, we are in a space of allowance. This is not a weak or passive space. This is actually a very strong and potent space (or way of being).

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Gandhi

When we forgive, we acknowledge that we have experienced pain yet the abuse no longer defines us and no longer has power over us.

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” Jonathan Lockwood Huie

When we forgive, we set ourselves free from the cage of abuse. We triumph over the abuse.

We allow our desire to live fully, beyond abuse, to become stronger than our desire to remain locked in the definition of who we thought we were because we were abused.

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.” ― Shannon L. Alder

I love this quote because it speaks to how the old definition we created of ourselves has to die in order to forgive, in order to move beyond abuse, in order to fully heal.

We can’t change what occurred; yet we get to choose what we create going forward.

Will we carry forward all of our anger, blame and resentment, keeping ourselves locked in the cage of abuse forever?

Or will we carry forward, honoring our choices, respecting our bodies and treating ourselves with dignity?

Forgiveness is one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves: forgiving our abuser(s), forgiving anyone involved in the abuse, and even forgiving ourselves for all the ways we perpetuated the cycle of abuse after it occurred.

How might your life be different if you choose forgiveness today?


If you liked this article, you may enjoy listening to my radio show on this topic. Click here for details and to tune in: Radical Forgiveness


Be You. Beyond Anything. Create Magic.

You can find more information from Dr. Lisa Cooney on her site DrLisaCooney.com or find her on Facebook or on Twitter @DrLisaCooney!

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Forgiveness: It’s For You, Not For Them

Dr. Lisa Cooney

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APA Reference
Cooney, D. (2016). Forgiveness: It’s For You, Not For Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/roar/2016/06/forgiveness-its-for-you-not-for-them/


Last updated: 30 Jun 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jun 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.