By Irene Conlan —
Forgiveness is the mental and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger against another person for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. (for more see ) While some may demand an apology, restitution, or some act of contrition, the bottom line is letting go of the negative feelings toward another for a real or imagined wrong. If you want real self improvement, it is critically important that you forgive others and I’ll tell you why.
It is the person doing the forgiving that receives the benefits—emotionally and spiritually.
The person forgiven may not even know he or she has been forgiven—they may not be available to tell, they may be too irascible to approach, or they may have died since the incident. Many people carry the anger and bitterness long after the incident and perhaps long after the one who perpetrated the “crime” against them is gone or deceased. I have worked with many clients who could not forgive a parent or a spouse, a child, a friend or an institution for something that happened years and years ago. When they come to me they cannot understand why they’re depressed, ill or anxious—or whatever it is they come for and often un-forgiveness is the culprit.
I sometimes ask them to bring me a list of the five people who have hurt them the most. And in hypnosis we work on getting to forgiveness so they can begin to heal from the anger, (sometimes rage), resentment, bitterness. Often the initial reaction is “I can’t forgive her or him and I won’t!” When they begin to understand the following they are in a better position to reach forgiveness:
- You are the one who benefits from the forgiveness—you are the one who will heal.
- Each person makes the best decision they can make with the awareness they had at the moment and the person who offended you was doing the best he or she could do at the time as well. Now they would probably make a different decision. They may or may not be sorry, they may or may not be aware that they offended you. This is not about them—this is about you.
- You are able to make a decision about what you think and how you feel. You can make a decision to continue to carry the anger, bitterness and resentment that destroys you physically, emotionally and spiritually or you can make a decision to let it go so you can heal. It’s up to you.
Sometimes we have to work on it in several sessions. In the first session we may be able to forgive 25% and in succeeding sessions, let go of more and more until the forgiveness is complete. The forgiveness has to be real.
Why is forgiveness so critically important?
In A Course in Miracles it states, “all dis-ease comes from a state of un-forgiveness,” and that “whenever we are ill, we need to look around to see who it is that we need to forgive.”
The anger, bitterness, sadness, or other emotions wrapped up in un-forgivensss plays havoc on our body as well as our emotions. Debbie Shapiro in The Bodymind Workbook states:
Cancer appears to be the result of many years of inner conflict, guilt, hurt, grief, resentment, confusion or tension surrounding deeply personal issues. It is connected to feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy and self-rejection … It is as if the deeply embedded resentments or conflicts eventually begin to eat away at the body itself.”
Forgiveness facilitates letting go of these long held toxic emotions and sets the stage for healing.
Underlying most un-forgiveness is a feeling of worthlessness or self hatred. Eric Hoffer stated it well when he said
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
Take an inner look. Who do you need to forgive? If you want true freedom, let go of the shackles of un-forgivensss. When the forgiveness is complete real self improvement can take place.