Find it hard to Forgive?
Many, if not most of us, have grown up with a definition of forgiveness that we find difficult to come to terms with. We feel that by forgiving someone, we are condoning their behaviour and letting them off the hook. Worst of all it feels like we would be admitting that our pain is not important. We can't get validation unless the other person suffers too. The thing about anger and resentment though, is that it is rarely shared by both parties. The person that suffers the most will most likely be you. This is why counsellors redefine forgiveness for our clients as a conscious and deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward another person. By doing so, you can acknowledge the wound inflicted upon you without feeling the need to have the other person know how much you have been affected. It is possible to lay down the burden of shame because you understand that it isn't yours to carry. You come to terms with the fact that you cannot make the other person think, believe, say or do anything to alleviate your pain and so you leave those burdens on the ground without any expectation or need for them to be picked up by the offender. Forgiveness is not about condoning the offender's behaviour, it is not about granting legal mercy to someone who has broken the law and it's not about reconciling a relationship unless that is what you would like. What it is about is letting go of your anger in spite of how reasonable and justified that anger may be. When you begin that journey you start to realise who you've been poisoning all these years. These unresolved feelings about an injustice create a wall around you that starts to affect you and all your relationships. The purpose of forgiveness is not to let the offender out of their prison, but to liberate you from yours.
About the author Greg James is a psychotherapist with a desire to see people set free from the patterns of the past. Trained integratively, Greg is able to tailor his approach to the individual needs of clients and strongly believes that our lived experience has a profound effect on our present-day living. He works out of offices in Chippenham and Devizes as well as online. www.gregjames.co.uk