The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Michelle Martin
The Healing Power of Forgiveness If you've ever been harmed by someone you understand how difficult it can be to offer forgiveness. Forgiveness may feel counter-intuitive depending on the circumstances, and you may find yourself harboring ill-will or resentment. As if all this wasn't difficult enough you may also be struggling with forgiving yourself for an error in judgement or poor behavior, and now carry the weight of regret or shame. Resentment, revenge, shame and guilt only keep you from healing and moving forward. If you feel the need to be vindicated, or if you punish yourself for choices you’ve made which perpetuate shame or regret...it's time to let go.

Forgiveness is a commitment, and the process may bring feelings and emotions to the surface. Consider breaking forgiveness down into more manageable parts. The journey to forgiveness is opportunity to learn, heal and grow from your experiences. This growth will assist in providing space to add more happiness and health into your life.

VALIDATION

When you've been treated poorly provide yourself validation of your thoughts and feelings. Seek to understand those whom have harmed you, even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness. Take a moment to assess if you are responsible for any part of the pain you are experiencing. This acknowledgment, though painful, is empowering. It takes a great deal of courage to admit when you’ve moved out of your integrity or made a mistake in judgement.

Your goal is to attain knowledge, emotional growth and heal from the experience, so do not dwell in ideas of “what if” or “it’s not fair.” Validation of your experience from multiple perspectives will help you make adjustments for better choices and behaviors.

Helpful Tip
Morning affirmations: Start your morning with positive statements. Perhaps it’s as simple as a positive affirmation you say out loud, or maybe it’s a practice of writing in a journal. If you have spiritual faith it could be a prayer. Whatever works for you, as the goal is to acknowledge and validate your personal journey.

EVOLUTION 

The evolution stage can be painful. This is the stage where you access your feelings and do something with those feelings. Be careful not to move through this stage too quickly (or not at all). What is your growth opportunity in the experience? How can you modify for the future? When you hold onto hurt (consciously and subconsciously) you store it within you. Pain stored in the body can come out in the form of illness and “dis-ease.”

Are you ready to approach your pain differently so you are able to fully heal? If you are still vacillating on your next step you may need to go back to the validation stage. There's no shame in reworking stages of forgiveness. If you're holding onto your pain as protection, find safety in knowing your intention is to heal, and you are deserving of a life free of resentment and ill-will.

Helpful Tip
Mindful inner dialogue: It's important to change negative inner dialogue so you are able to move through the stages of forgiveness. Start with five to ten minutes of deep breathing in a quiet place, and if your internal voice is negative, flip the switch and create a positive dialogue. Be present about what you are mentally perpetuating and modify accordingly.

RELEASE

My mother has a saying, “release them with love.” Releasing with love is a blessing to those whom have harmed you and also a blessing to yourself. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ve been through the validation and evolution stages so you’re ready! If someone has caused you harm you have a choice to either dwell in a place of victimization or thrive in a place of courage and strength. Provide those whom have harmed you with something they may be unable to source themselves...love. Provide yourself compassion if you’ve behaved poorly and consider it an opportunity and motivation to do better next time…and there will be a next time.

We are all on our own individual journey and have our own priorities to manage. However, we are also here to help each other. When love is given freely and without expectation it adds positivity to our lives. What if we entered into each relationship with the mindset we were going to offer a gift to someone, with lessons and knowledge included? Wouldn’t love be perceived as a blessing which helps us grow and not an emotion we need to struggle to receive and control?

Helpful Tip
Integrity check: True forgiveness will require you to be in your integrity. This means you must let go of revenge or ill-will. When we want others to suffer (even if they’ve done something cruel) we are not in our integrity. Wishing ill-will on others only perpetuates ill-will to self. Remind yourself it is not your place to judge others and be cognizant while navigating your intentions.

The stages of forgiveness take time, so remember to have compassion for others and yourself. Take the time to practice these three steps when a situation comes up where you feel deceived, slighted, or harmed in some way. These stages will help you navigate your feelings and emotions during difficult times and will assist you in understanding others and yourself without judgement, and from a place of compassion.

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Michelle MartinAs a Certified International Health Coach (CIHC), Michelle supports Cascade Centers' health and wellness initiatives through a holistic approach, and believes true well-being is based on bio-individuality. Along with supporting wellness initiatives, she is part of the account management team and assists with providing proactive service and solutions for clients and their employees. Michelle writes and speaks about holistic health related issues including sleep hygiene, sugar addiction, forgiveness and mindfulness. For more health information and wellness inspiration, you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook @sohowellbeing.