The power of forgiveness
To start, I want to convey that I’m experiencing a newfound sense of freedom, akin to a liberated bird. As some of you may know, for the past week, I found myself confined within the walls of my home for a seemingly endless five days, which was nothing short of sheer madness. Fortunately, the issue has been resolved, and I have regained my freedom. After a couple of days, a profound feeling of claustrophobia set in. It was far from pleasant, being unable to step outside. I acknowledge that I grapple with social anxiety and generally avoid going out unless it’s absolutely necessary. However, during my confinement, I yearned desperately to escape the confines of my apartment.
But, rest assured, that distressing ordeal is now behind me!
Today, I had another therapy session, and it went quite well. I shared with my therapist the recent ordeal of being locked in and explained how it had altered my perspective. I conveyed to her that I view this experience as a valuable lesson, one that life intended for me to learn. It allowed me to truly understand what it feels like to be stuck and unable to leave the house. This experience has wrought a transformation in me, and my therapist fully comprehended this change. I told her that the moment I could step out of my apartment again, all negative thoughts and anxieties dissipated, as all I yearned for was a breath of fresh air.
We also delved into my sense of liberation in recent weeks and revisited the theme of forgiveness, which I’ll share more about in this blog post.
Having been in therapy for four years, I’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge. I’ve navigated a rollercoaster of ups and downs, often feeling like it was two steps forward and one step back. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I managed to dig deeper and truly embrace forgiveness. The relief it brought was immensely satisfying.
Here’s what I discovered:
I confess that, although I find myself in a much better place today than I was four, three, or even two years ago, I had come to terms with the baggage I was carrying: the scars of being bullied in the past, financial struggles, and the social anxiety that stemmed from those experiences. I took responsibility for it all, but I noticed that something was still holding me back, preventing me from moving forward. I needed a breakthrough.
I realized that there was lingering anger within me, stemming from how people had treated me in the past. This included the bullies from high school, as well as individuals who had taken advantage of me, be they former co-workers, friends, or even family members. Some people would lean on me when they needed help, but when I required assistance, they were conspicuously absent. It was like a one-way street. There was a stew of emotions – anger, pain, resentment, shame, and bitterness – festering within me, all left unexpressed.
I had never let these emotions trouble me, or at least I tried not to, but deep down, they were affecting me, and I now realize that. I noticed that various situations of this nature had become a pattern in my life. When someone close to me did something that bothered me or didn’t align with my preferences, I would simply bottle up my feelings and refrain from addressing the issue, out of fear of a negative response or upsetting the other person.
In a way, I had been harboring grudges, many of them, without even realizing it, until a few weeks ago when I forgave everyone. Not for their sake, but for my own.
Now, let me share the lessons I’ve learned:
Forgiveness can be an arduous task, particularly when you aren’t aware of the grudges you’ve been holding. Even if you are aware, it’s easy to focus solely on the actions of the other person. I discovered that I had fixated too much on what I lacked, what hadn’t happened, or what others had done to me. What makes forgiveness especially challenging is that we often struggle with forgiving ourselves or seeking the forgiveness we need.
What I now understand is that forgiveness is not an act performed for someone else, as many people believe. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. It involves letting go of grudges and replacing them with love. When you release grudges and blame, you can offer more love to both yourself and others.
Many individuals cling to their grudges, but I implore you to stop that! It’s unproductive. We have an ego within us that yearns for an apology, seeks punishment and revenge, but that doesn’t help. It’s futile. What many fail to realize, and what I’ve discovered, is that clinging to grudges impedes the flow of love in your life. It can be likened to spiritual constipation, causing you to be emotionally blocked. So, metaphorically, find your “laxatives”!
Struggling with forgiveness? Once you make the decision to prioritize your well-being and feel better within yourself, forgiveness becomes a much simpler task. It only becomes difficult when you make it about someone else. So, remember, forgive for yourself! I repeat, forgive for yourself!
Here’s another scenario I’ve faced repeatedly in the past:
When you forgive someone, only to have them continue to disappoint you, where do you draw the line? Well, I’ve also learned that when you forgive, you shouldn’t expect the other person to change. What changes is your perspective of them. When you forgive, you have the opportunity to establish new boundaries for your relationship with that person. However, if you forgive them for, say, perpetually being late or failing to respond to your messages, and they repeat the same behavior, don’t make the forgiveness about them; make it about you. Don’t continue the same cycle, expecting them to change.
So, once more, forgive for yourself!
A tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders when I forgave the bullies, the naysayers, the individuals who judged and ridiculed me, and those who took advantage of me. Forgiveness truly liberates you. It enables you to move forward and heal from the past, at least that’s what it did for me.
Lastly, I forgave myself. I harbored a great deal of guilt, particularly for not recognizing my emotional struggles a few years ago when I descended into depression. This guilt drained my energy, as I chastised myself for not being strong enough or clear about my circumstances. I also felt remorse for not pausing to examine my patterns. I forgive myself for these things. Guilt is an unproductive emotion. I also forgive myself for believing that things could have been different and for not possessing the knowledge or clarity I needed during that time. I forgive myself for the time I spent in that dark hole, feeling trapped and unaware of the power of forgiveness. If I had known then what I know now, my journey might have been different, but there’s no point in feeling guilty about it. I forgive myself. I forgive myself…
Thank you for taking the time to read about what I’ve learned from forgiveness. I hope it proves helpful to you, because forgiveness is the key to freedom. It stops the internal bleeding, unblocks the emotional barriers, and lifts a tremendous burden from your shoulders. Trust me.
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. I wish you all a fantastic week!