An exercise in forgiveness

{ Saturday, December 10, 2011 }
People often see forgiveness as a sign of weakness, a way of letting people "off the hook" without punishment for what they did. The bigger the hurt, the more we feel it's impossible to ever let it go. But if we think about it: who suffers the most from holding a grudge? Imagine walking around with poison all day, that can't be healthy right? It's very possible that the person we hate and hold guilty continues to live his/her life without a care in the world, and we end up suffering twice: once when we experienced the person hurting us, and now because we keep on feeling the pain of what they inflicted upon us.
When we keep this in mind, we see clearly that forgiveness is a strong act of self-love, an act that will change our life for the better. It's to let go of our role as a victim, and to start taking responsibility for our life again. It's living with the thought that that person might never be punished in this life, but that at least you won't keep suffering for what he/she did to you. And don't forget: what goes around, comes around. If a person does something negative, it will backfire at him/her, in some way or the other.

I found the following exercise to be helpful in accomplishing inner peace and serenity. I'm still doing the exercise, but in my opinion, it works. The original exercise says to do it in one time, but in my experience it's better to take your time for this, and to do one or two persons at a time. I also added some other things that I found helpful.

Take a paper and pen, or open an empty word document on your pc. Close your eyes and take some time to relax, to quiet down your thoughts and to ask God to help you with this exercise. Then, write the name of your father on the paper. Think about the past and which negative feelings arise when you think of him. Write those feelings and experiences down on paper. Then, write "I now forgive my father for this hurt". Try to mean it. Try to really forgive him, try to really let go. If you are having difficulties, pray to God to assist you. When you feel you let the experience go, go to the next negative feeling you have, and keep writing until you have no more negative feelings left. Then pray to God to bless your father and to give him peace, love, joy, a good health and all good things. If your father passed away, you can pray for his well-being in the next life. 
Then, take another paper and write all his good qualities down, and reread it several times. If you feel the need to send him a message after, by all means do so. 
Do the same for your mother and your siblings. Try to do this even if you don't feel negative towards any of them at first sight, you might be surprised what comes up. Then maybe some members of your broader family, and all other people who you feel hurt you in some way. I suggest you give yourself time to process your feelings and don't do everything all in once. You can also pray for the person you dealt with several times during the day, to enhance the positive feelings you have for them. 

- based on an exercise from Secrets of Fascinating Womanhood

When you forgive someone, it's doesn't mean that you automatically let him/her back into your life. If you feel there is a chance the hurt might be repeated if you trust this person again, then there is nothing wrong with banning this person out of your life. You can love a person without wanting to spend time with them. Remember, in the end, it's not really about the other person, it's about you and your well-being. The best revenge is to be happy!


Becky said...

I loved this post, thank you for sharing.

Safiyah said...

Thank you, Becky :)

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