“When you’re wounded, especially by significant people in your life, your empowerment is challenged, and your worthiness is called into question. The vulnerability your loss of empowerment creates within you allows the wound to damage your worthiness.”
- Mario Martinez
Psychologists have found a substantial correlation between reduced stress, better heart health, lower anxiety, lower pain perception, and higher overall happiness, with the ability to be a forgiving person.
It is for those reasons and more that I am working on forgiveness and if I’m truly honest with myself, I’m finding it difficult. You see, my self-esteem and worthiness have been damaged. And I have on several occasions wholeheartedly told myself that I have forgiven the wrong doing, and really wanted to believe that I had let the negative emotions go. This pain runs deep however, and even when I think I have reached a point of forgiveness, the anger and sadness persist.
Which has led me to this question; how do you truly forgive?
There is a close link between negative emotions and illness. And this makes sense to me as I’m much more likely to get a cold or have a poor night’s sleep when I’m feeling low. Some say that anger and resentment keep us stuck in the past, replaying disempowering emotions and keeping the negative alive. Philosophers and writers suggest that we can free ourselves from our deepest and painful wounds through the act of forgiveness. We pardon the perpetrator and improve our own emotional welfare through self-forgiveness.
As a concept, I am all for forgiveness. I want to experience the relief of no longer carrying the resentment that I feel. I just don’t know how to do it.
In a TEDx Talk, Sarah Montana discusses her journey of forgiving her family’s killer. She posits that rather than asking how to forgive, the question to ask is why. Further, she recommends getting very specific about what it is that you’re forgiving. In the act of defining what needs to be forgiven we are invited to look at the specific emotions underneath our wounds.
This resonates with me. It is easier and more comfortable to direct all our anger at the perpetrator than it is to examine and process our own emotions. However, by uncovering the raw emotion, and processing it, perhaps we can achieve forgiveness.
A YouTube series – The Science of Happiness – looks at the power of forgiveness and what it means. They conducted a study with 5 people asking them to picture a person that they were currently holding a grudge against and write out who the person was, what the event was that caused the conflict, how they felt about it and importantly, in their own words try to forgive that person. They were then asked to read out what they had written in front of a mirror.
The responses were amazing. As a viewer you can almost witness the transformation occurring as the words are spoken into the mirror and reflected back to them. That hearing the words that they wanted to hear, had a profound, sub-conscious effect. Forgiving both the perpetrator and the self.
There are studies that show that reaping the benefits of forgiveness doesn’t require anyone else but you. It doesn’t mean that you have to reconcile with the person in question or even speak to them. Forgiveness isn’t excusing or forgetting what happened.
Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself to lower your psychological distress by getting rid of negative emotions.
Want more? You can contact me for some 1-1 person-centred coaching. Book a free clarity call to see how best I can help ❤️