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Break Free with Forgiveness

by Susan DeLorenzo

Being able to forgive is a challenge for many. Holding on to hurt, anger and resentment can be a big road block in terms of moving forward to live one’s best life. So how does one stop re-living and re-viewing a past transgression of someone else or of one’s own making? While it’s not as easy as flipping a switch, it can be done. It has very little to do with the offender and everything to do with the offended person making the decision to release painful feelings and move forward.

People holding on to hurt, anger or resentment, no matter the reason, have figuratively put themselves in a torture chamber of their own making. It’s an easy trap to fall into, as most people have a deep sense of right and wrong, and judge events and people’s actions accordingly. However, the person that holds on is generally the only one that suffers in this scenario. The offender rarely does. As Irish author Malachy McCourt put it, “holding on to resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

The three biggest reasons to forgive are 1) to live in peace, 2) to live free from the replay of the event, and 3) to move forward with life, keeping a focus on the present, as well as on future dreams and goals. There is no need to let the offender know in order to make the forgiveness “official.” It’s about setting free the prisoner entrapped by the situation.

One way to reach forgiveness is employing understanding. When the information is available, individuals can give someone a “pass” on their unskilled behavior, knowing it was not indicative of their overall personality, but rather a highly charged time. It’s doesn’t condone the behavior; however, it releases it with an understanding of what was going on behind the scene. Alternatively, one can jump right to understanding even when the backstory is not available. In this case, one imagines understanding and goes straight to forgiveness. This is a good one for offenders that cut others off in traffic or are otherwise inconsiderate in other places. There is no need to allow these infractions to dictate the day.

Another means to forgiveness is through the will. This is especially useful when faced with forgiving the “unforgiveable.” There is a choice. Either the offender can be allowed to hurt again and again by continuing to replay the behavior in the head and the heart, or one can stop the replay, thus disallowing the offender to cause more pain. Executing forgiveness as a decision and nothing more, allows for freedom without betraying integrity or having to pull anything from the heart. Dutch writer Corrie Ten Boom put it this way, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

No matter how recent or how long it has been, it is possible and worth it to choose to forgive. It is gratifying to see people move beyond their pain and righteous anger to build a life that reflects their desires. Forgiveness breaks people free.

Susan De Lorenzo is a certified transformational life coach, speaker and author of the upcoming book, Thank You, Cancer. For more information, visit SusanDeLorenzo.com