The Healing Power of Forgiveness and 6 Steps to Letting Go.

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is an act of self-love. It is a conscious choice to release hurt, resentment and anger – perhaps even hatred. It does not excuse or justify harmful actions or mean that a relationship will be restored to what it was, or in any way make what has happened all right. It is about restoring your own peace of mind and well-being.

Benefits of Forgiveness:

  1. Emotional Liberation: Forgiveness frees you from emotional shackles. It’s like opening a window to let fresh air in after a storm.
  2. Physical Health: Studies show that forgiving reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and boosts the immune system.
  3. Improved Relationships: Forgiving others (and yourself) enhances relationships. It fosters empathy and compassion.
  4. Inner Peace: Imagine shedding layers of resentment. Forgiveness brings inner calm and serenity.
  5. Well-being: Forgiveness fundamentally fosters greater well-being

Personally, I can affirm the power of this practice. As a teenager I was the victim of a group knife attack. I came out of it traumatized and with visions of vengeance. Needless to say this was not good for my mental health. I released all of that with the below steps, and I can now think back to that event not only in a neutral way, but even with a sense of love for the perpetrators (this is one step beyond forgiveness) .

Essential Technique: Letting Go  

Step 1: Acknowledge the Pain

  • Allow yourself to feel whatever hurt you are experiencing. This is important otherwise forgiveness becomes a pseudo technique to gloss over pain. Allowing and welcoming hurt and pain may initially seem to make it worse, but you will soon find that the energy of hurt starts to dissipate.

Step 2: Self-Compassion

Be kind and gentle with yourself. Understand and recognize that when you hold onto pain and resentment, however justified it may seem, you are the one in pain – it does not actually punish the perpetrator of your pain. So, releasing hurt, pain, anger and resentment is an act of self love and compassion – you owe it to yourself!

Step 3: Create Safe Boundaries

  • A key reason we hold onto pain is an attempt to protect ourselves and to create boundaries. But this comes at a price – a loss of well-being and openness. It is better instead to create healthy boundaries. We can forgive an individual but still know what they are like and consequently create appropriate boundaries with them to prevent further harm. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trust restoration.

Step 4: The Art of Letting Go

There are many techniques we can employ once we are ready to let go. The proceeding steps outline form the basis for what follows:

  • Just Let Go: Once we are ready, we can ask ourselves, Am I Willing To Let Go – Could I do that Right Now? We can then exercise this power of choice to just let. It is based on an intention which the mind will sooner or later respond to. Note, that for serious harm or hurt, you may need to repeat this many times – it is a process.
  • Recognise the Obstacles to Letting Go: Very often there are underlying reasons we do not want to let go – by employing mindful presence we can notice them. The most common one is the thought, “why should I let go – I am the innocent one here – they don’t deserve to be forgiven”.
  • Journal: Write down your feelings. Externalize them.
  • Mindfulness: Stay present. Breathe. Ground yourself.
  • Release Rituals: Symbolically release pain. Burn a letter or visualize it floating away.
  • Self-Care: Prioritize your well-being and affirm your willingness to move on and to improve your own wellbeing.

Step 5: Understand Humanity

  • Sometimes, it can be useful to employ empathy and compassion. People harm others for many reasons. Often it is merely conditioning, or the results of their upbringing and environment or even the harm they themselves have committed. Sometimes people are just stressed. Everyone  is on a journey and we all make mistakes. Again, this does not justify harm, but it will soften you and create more space to let go.

Step 6: Patience and Persistence

  • Forgiveness isn’t linear – it often does not happen all at once. Be patient and make this a regular practice until you have removed all traces of resentment, hurt and anger.

Remember: Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It doesn’t erase the past, but it empowers you to create a brighter future.

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