From inspirational quotes to thoroughly researched articles, it’s pretty common advice to tell people to forgive, let it go and move on. It’s a piece of well-intentioned advice, but honestly, it’s much easier said than done.
Forgiveness is a kind, humble act. It allows you to let go of resentment, anger and even vengeance. But it has to happen at the right time for each person; otherwise, it may even be counterproductive.
If you’re about to encourage someone who has just been harmed to practice forgiveness, you risk diminishing the suffering the person is going through. The same applies to you. You don’t have to urge yourself to forgive. Forgiveness is a process that you don’t have to rush, so give yourself the time to experience it.
Remember: it’s ok to be angry at someone who has hurt you…don’t suppress that anger because it will come back one way or another, maybe as passive-aggressive behavior, or maybe as inner criticism or general sadness; either way, it won’t be pretty. Instead, you can use anger as a driving force, for example to confront the person who has harmed you, or even better, to confront yourself and take action. Quickly forgiving somebody without even reflecting on what happened won’t actually help. You may say the words “I forgive you” but deep down you’ll know you don’t mean it…and sooner or later it will show.
There’s a difference between giving yourself permission to be angry and spitefully plotting revenge tough. Anger can give you the power to stand up for yourself, and that is the true first step to forgiveness. That power can allow you to get to know your limits and marking them clearly to the other person.
Forgiveness is definitely healing for your mind, body and soul; but that doesn’t mean that you have to put on a blindfold to avoid seeing harmful people or situations in your life. It means that it’s a process you have to go through, not so much for the one who was wronged you, but for your well-being’s sake. It’s about acknowledging that a painful event happened as it happened, instead of how it could have happened. It’s natural to feel angry first, so don’t rush that process. Everyone walks at a different pace and this isn’t any different.
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