I’ve noticed that forgiveness seems to come up surprisingly often in cases of remarkable healing, not just mental and emotional healing, but physical healing too. Why does forgiveness seem to come up so often? In answering this question, we can get to the root not just of why forgiveness aids healing, but why forgiveness is such an important quality in life.
Forgiveness is often not easy. We can feel that forgiving would be some sort of vindication of what we believe to have been a wrongdoing, or that it would mean having to pretend that the wrongdoing never happened. Perhaps hardest of all, we fear that to forgive another person would mean having to resume the same relationships that we had with them before they wronged us.
But forgiveness in itself doesn’t mean any of that. Forgiveness is less about those we believe to have wronged us and more about our relationship with ourselves. To forgive, simply means to let go of the resentment and anger that we are holding on to about past events, and to move beyond them. The truth is that when we hold on to negative emotions about the past, we are hurting ourselves more than anyone else. Bad things may have happened in the past and we may have suffered deeply, but when we refuse to forgive, we store these negative emotions within us and carry them in our daily lives. They become a part of who we are, mentally and physically, and integrate the negative emotion into our own identity, beliefs and behaviours. We perpetuate our own trauma and drive it deeper, reliving our past trauma in the present and carrying it into our own future.
So, we must let go of negative emotions such as anger, resentment and disappointment, and set ourselves free.
This does not just apply to our forgiveness of others, but to our ability to forgive ourselves. Whatever we might have done in the past, refusing to forgive ourselves serves no good. We must learn from and move beyond our mistakes, not punish ourselves for them. Forgiveness is the process by which we can do this and open ourselves to the opportunity of a positive future.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we have to forget the past or be happy about things that happoened. It doesn’t mean that we have to remain friends with those who have hurt us. Those are seperate chocies to be made only once we have made peace with reality and set ourselves free of the anger that we are holding on to.
When we forgive, we come out of past darkness into the light of the present and give ourselves a chance to heal our wounds. Forgiveness is not easy, but the sooner we find the strength to let go, the sooner we can heal ourselves.
Forgiveness is letting go, it is acceptance, it is peace, it is freedom. Perhaps most importantly, it is healing.