Forgiving means a lot more than the simple act of saying “I forgive you.” It is much more than resuming a lost relationship. It means even more than forgetting the action that caused us sorrow at some point in our lives.
When we truly forgive someone, we make peace with our own ego. We feel fulfilled, at ease and free, because resentment has disappeared forever.
Sincerely forgiving someone who has harmed you is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Forgiveness requires great emotional strength and bravery that not many possess.
When we have been hurt, be it physically or emotionally, we go into a state of rage. Anger can be a useful emotion if we want to defend ourselves from a threat. Yet, it is meaningless when the threat is no longer present.
Prolonged anger poisons us slowly. It fills us with rage and hatred, a thirst for vengeance, which are all completely useless negative emotions. They will not erase the past and also serve no purpose in the present or future.
Forgiving in a rational way
In order to free ourselves of negative emotions, such as rage, we can use the power of our thoughts and ideas. This way, we take control of our mind. Thus, we rip the control of our mind away from these emotions. Thinking in a rational manner implies not letting yourself get carried away by impulses, by our imagination. It means not exaggerating or dramatizing the facts and, above all, abandoning the so-called “you should have“s.
When we are being guided by our rage, we are assuming that other people should have behaved in a certain way. Thus, we aren’t capable of forgiving them sincerely.
The truth is that everyone is free to behave according to their own criteria, not our own, whether we like it or not. Accepting this reality and being able to bear it without too much negativity will allow us to finally forgive those who have hurt us.
Therefore, in order to free ourselves of this heavy feeling of resentment, vengeance or sadness, we should keep in mind that no one is perfect. Not the people who have hurt us, nor us. It is natural for humans to make mistakes, to become confused, to behave in a visceral manner. That’s why our emotional side comes from the most primitive part of our brain.
Although the damage affects us, rage wont change this fact. We’ll only end up with two problems. First, the damage suffered due to the other person’s actions. Secondly, the rage that we impose on ourselves, which just generates even more pain.
Another rational thought that may help us is the idea that nobody can make us suffer without our consent. This may sound weird but, it’s the truth. If you know who you are, you have a balanced self-esteem and a good head on your shoulders, it’ll be impossible for someone to harm you. At least not through words or deeds that don’t involve physical harm.
An insult can only harm me if I tell myself that that person shouldn’t ever insult me. Or, on the other hand, if I “buy” that person’s insult. If I end up believing the insult and accepting it as my own. That’s when I’m opening the door to that which causes me pain.
You may think that this an extremely hard thing to achieve, and you would be right to think that way. Nobody teaches us how to think this way. Instead, they teach us how to protect our dignity with all of our strengths, to make our ego shine as if each one of us were the most important being on the planet.
In the end, this will work against us, because we are the ones who suffer on an emotional level. And, if we stop and think about it, we’ll see that it’s not worth it at all, because we will never obtain anything from it. The anger towards the other person never has any practical use.
How can I know if I have truly forgiven?
Although forgiving is a truly difficult act that requires a great deal of bravery, we can all do it. The rational thoughts that we described previously are only the beginning, but it doesn’t stop there. In order to forgive, one needs to grow and connect with the things we tell ourselves.
You have been able to forgive if you feel within you each one or at least one of these points:
- You don’t think that the other person is a bad person. To you, they are simply confused. You know that human beings are good by nature. They want to cooperate and not compete, but these societies, as artificial as they are, they teach us other things. And this may confuse us. Everyone can fail at some point in their life, because this is the normal order of things. When you are capable of acknowledging this, you have definitely forgiven the other person. Also, that has now eliminated the negative emotion.
- You have accepted what the other person did. You tolerate, accept and are aware that life is not perfect and that people are even less perfect. Therefore, you must accept that there are situations, actions, facts that are not going to be of your liking. In fact, they may even go against what you believe in. This is a part of life, and if we see it and feel it as such, it will not cause as much harm. It is unpleasant when everything doesn’t go the way we want it to, but it is not the end of the world.
- You don’t feel anger or rage when you see the other person. Instead, you would like to help them or wish them good luck in life.
- If your feelings are more about compassion than about rage, then you have managed to forgive for good. You only wish that person the best. You truly want them to have a good life and for them to fix their behavior. In fact, you consider it’s nothing more than a sign of the misfortune they are surely carrying on their shoulders.
Forgiving is not an easy mental task. Oftentimes it emerges as a form of your triumph in a hard battle against negative emotions. However, by doing so, you will be the first one to be benefited.