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This is an interesting subject but challenging to write. Forgiveness, according to psychology refers to the "act of decreasing negative feelings toward someone who has hurt or offended the self. Forgiveness is best understood as an internal process: a change in emotions, motivations, and attitudes that often leads to behavioral changes". Forgiveness, begins with a change in our thoughts and emotions, followed by an act of letting go or releasing whatever or whoever has hurt you. There is forgiveness towards others and a forgiveness towards self. Someone likened forgiveness to peeling an onion, and I agree with that, as there are many layers to the process. There is the act to forgive, the act to receive, the act to accept - perhaps a reciprocation and then, sometimes there are just that many layers of issues to look into to forgive and to release. I will try my best to research and share, as well as to explain through my own experiences on forgiveness.

Forgiving others. We make mistakes, and that is the unchangeable truth. People fall short of our expectations, sometimes they have been wounded and don't know how to contain and heal themselves, it could be that they are facing a difficult situation and unable to contain their stress - you just happen to be there, or it could just be that they do have under-developed prefrontal cortex - "ability to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social “control”, as explained by Matthew Dahlitz, a neuropsychotherapist.

Whatever it is, what they have done may have wounded you. It is painful and probably triggered anger within you. Unresolved anger, can only lead on to resentment and bitterness. The person who has wounded you, may or may not know the extent of how much they have wounded you unless you informed them. Also note, they may not take it lightly when informed. (This is where unforgiveness and wounding gets complicated.) What matters most is how you go about forgiving the person, whether or not they have given you the well deserved apology.

The mind, body and emotions are connected, the more you let go, the healthier you become. Anger, resentment and bitterness will find its way to manifest in your physical and emotional self as a way to speak with you to look within and to let go of those unhealthy thoughts and feelings. We are made to experience all these feelings as part of our life growth lessons, no one is spared of these painful lessons. Forgiving is not saying you accept the person who wronged you nor accept that what has happened was ok. Instead, forgiveness is choosing to accept that the situation happened, that you want to let go and find peace within; it can also mean that you want to step into your present rather than being stuck in the past. Forgiving allows you to accept the lessons and hopefully find something to be grateful for, eg showing you wisdom / strength, or leading you to where you are meant to be, perhaps as an advocate for those suffering, or finding your life's purpose.

Self-Forgiveness. We hold on to blame, we get upset with ourselves for being so "stupid, weak, coward, hanging on due to fear or for reasons only we know", for the "should haves, could haves, why didn't I" etc. We know it, we play it in our mind like a broken recorder, we want to blame our selves. Part of us do not want to release the blame because of guilt or shame for not being able to protect ourselves or others.

1) Each time, you hear the record playing, change it! Play a different tune, find new words that are healing for you, "I choose to soothe and comfort myself, I am safe, I am well and all is well within me, I am wise, I am strong, I am bold, I am smart!"

2) Find ways to release blame from your body by movements. One of the ways trauma is released from the body is through bodywork. The incident may or may not be traumatic for you, but I have found the effectiveness of body work. The day I discovered self-forgiveness was at the end of a hot yoga class, lying down on a savasana pose! In that quiet moment, and deep slow breathing, I forgave myself and felt tears trickle down my face. It was a general self forgiveness and it felt soothing, calming and peaceful.

3) The other ways you may want to try is emotional freedom technique / tapping to release these unhealthy emotions. Mindful meditation or walking meditation are just as useful. I have often found answers while practicing these methods.

Lastly, anyone can write about forgiveness, but no one can write about your experiences of hurt, anger, and pain, and especially your experience of releasing them. Forgiveness is a complex process, it has many definitions, and contexts. Take your time but don't take too long as it will affect your well-being and even your relationships - with others and yourself. When it is time, let it go. This is a nice quote from Oprah Winfrey, "forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different." Yes, we can't change the past, it was what it was, but we can create the healthy, safe, and peaceful future that we want. Be kind to yourself.


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