The Space of Forgiveness–The Personal Side
It is one of my mantras that “forgiveness is an ongoing process.” For me, this means that when someone has hurt me deeply, I have to keep forgiving them. Sure, I forgive them the first time, but then I have to keep walking that forgiveness out. I show up at their invitations, I reach out to them for engagement and I keep choosing to focus on the good in our relationship.
This sounds so simple, but it isn’t. It is a process. And I have found that it is a process best supported with therapy, time and patience with and for myself and others.
Letting go and forgiveness are synonymous in my mind. I personally cannot “let go” unless I forgive. Forgiving does not mean I agree with what happened. It does mean I try to empathize with the other person. And I try to view their words and behaviors through a lens of understanding—aiming to understand how their life experiences, their perceptions, their strengths and even their weaknesses may have affected their actions. Of course, there are always certain things I will not understand; however, when I truly take a step back and try to imagine myself as the other person, I usually come to a higher level of compassion then before.
If you read the practical blog on this topic there is a tie-in to the lens of understanding. When the speaker went back to learn about his father’s upbringing, home life and the traumas he had endured, the man was much more easily able to let go of the hurt his dad had caused him and look on him with compassion.
As a side note, I will say that we must set boundaries when it comes to emotional or physical abuse. We cannot keep letting in those that repeatedly hurt us. And if you have experienced trauma or abuse it is imperative you work with a trauma therapist in order to heal and move forward in healthy ways.
How we move forward will look different for all of us. You may actually verbalize to the person that you forgive them. You may write them a letter. You may let go of the infraction in your heart. If the person is healthy, you may keep spending time with them. If they are not, you may forgive them and let them go.
The point is, once you can release your pain you are free to reach for something new. When you forgive and let go of hurt and bitterness you create the space to focus on something positive. What are you holding onto? And what could you do if you let go of your hurt? There is an old saying that “unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is so true. We get to choose the space around us and what we create in it.
If you are ready to let go or begin processing past hurts, we can help. Our mental health clinicians are ready to support you on your journey. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.