The Space of Forgiveness–The Practical Side

The holidays are here. They come this time every year whether we are ready for them or not.  And this time of year always gets me thinking about family and friends. When I think of who I will be gathering with and who I will not, I naturally think back to past joys and past hurts.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a podcast in which the gentleman was talking about just that.  He was talking about his father and the good and not so good memories he had of him. His father had been an alcoholic and when he passed away, the speaker did some research to try and better understand the joy and pain his father had brought him. This research led him on a path towards grace and forgiveness.

I would like to propose that our memories are rarely neutral. Sure, some may be. However, most of the time when we think about someone we think positively or negatively. We focus on the good or the bad.  And when we focus on the bad—whether that is due to trauma, unforgiveness or some other factor—we actually hold onto negativity. 

Now, there is a time and place for hurt. It would be unnatural for us not to experience emotional turmoil when we are let down, disappointed, hurt or even abused. And as someone who specializes in trauma, I always tell my clients that memories are there for a reason—to protect us. Our psyches remember trauma to protect us from it in the future. So negative feelings and trauma need to be explored and processed. And there needs to be healing.

But healing cannot come if we only hold onto hurt and unforgiveness. We have to be willing to experience the pain, work through it and then eventually let it go. Letting go does not mean that we forget. And forgiveness does not mean that what happened is okay. 

What the art of letting go does mean is that you create space for something else. When your hands let go of the past, they are open to embrace the future. Is there a project you want to do, a skill you want to learn, a book you want to read? Is there a place you want to volunteer, a friend you want to mentor or another new endeavor you want to take on?

I will speak more to this in the personal blog on this topic. For now, think about what you are holding onto. The feelings, the hurts, the expectations. Are there things that you need to process in order to let go? If so, we are here for you. Our experienced mental health therapists have the skills and training to support you on your journey. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our seasoned clinicians.


Yolanda Brailey