The Art of Forgiveness – The Personal Side

Years ago when working with trauma patients, a colleague told me that she never expected her clients to forgive their perpetrators.  I knew what she meant.  Some of the things we are forced to experience in this life are so tragic there is no foreseeable way a person could forgive.  And yet, people still find it in their hearts to forgive. 

When it comes to our deepest hurts in life, forgiveness is usually a journey.  It may take days, weeks, months or even years to forgive someone.  But what I have learned is this:  when you reach the end of that journey and finally forgive, it is liberating.  Before you say there is no way you can forgive, let me say what forgiveness is not.  Forgiveness is not saying that what the other person did is okay.  Forgiveness is not inviting the person that hurt you back into your life, unless you choose to.

Also, forgiveness happens on your terms.  Some people talk to their offenders, others write letters and some people have no contact with their offenders at all.  The act of forgiveness, however it is performed, breaks the emotional hold a person has over your life.  By forgiving, you let go of so much negative energy—including hurt, resentment, sadness, disappointment and anger.

Here comes the harder part, something I have been learning recently.  First, true forgiveness has no requirements.  In other words, the other person does not have to say they are sorry, admit their faults or even ask your forgiveness.  In fact, they do not have to show an ounce of remorse or regret.  Second, if you choose to let that person back into your life they may hurt you again.  The journey to forgive and the act itself are both difficult and rewarding experiences.

Processing your feelings with a therapist while you are on this journey can bring enlightenment and help you manage negative feelings that may interfere with your daily life—feelings like anxiety, sadness, depression and anger.  A therapist can teach you coping skills and encourage self-care during this challenging and fulfilling season. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment.


Yolanda Brailey