Forgiveness Part One-What does it mean to forgive?

Forgiveness Part One-What does it mean to forgive?

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It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. –Maya Angelou


Simple, yet complex. And at times, it can seem darn near impossible. The question is: just what does it mean to forgive?

Forgiveness is the idea of letting unpleasant life experiences arise and pass-without clinging to the idea of what should have happened.

Sure, it can seem empowering to hold on to grudges. But forgiveness is essential in order to decrease the suffering of ourselves and others.

It’s an act that we need to engage in in order to be healthy. Even if the circumstances involved are heart breaking.

I look at it like this…

In life, we have a bank account of grudges that we hold more dearly to our hearts than we realize. Many of them are just and reasonable. And many aren’t.

These grudges are linked to painful experiences more powerful than words can describe. Unfortunately, when left to smolder, these grudges have the capacity to turn into uncontrolled blazes.

At that point, they begin to define us.

As a result, we begin to react to life from the perspective of this hurt.  Yes, anger can feel empowering when reflecting on a hurtful situation. However, there is a danger in taking on this attitude. That danger is this…

Allowing ourselves to be defined by anger and resentment stifles out joy, growth, and peace.

How can you experience peace when you are trapped in the pain of the past? You really can’t. One cancels out the other.

To move past the threshold of the pain of past actions, we need to learn to forgive.

You may be thinking that this means that we are saying that what happened to us was ok.  That’s definitely not the case. Understanding this is essential in order to keep ourselves healthy.

Forgiveness does not mean that the actions of others were right and just.

It doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten what happened.  It doesn’t mean that we condone the actions of our offender. And it most certainly does not mean that we open ourselves up to allowing a situation to be repeated.

What it does mean is that we are making an attempt to move on.

Forgiveness is about letting go. It is the process of taking the power away from a hurtful situation in order to take back your life.  In short, it is about you.

Forgiveness is done for you and your own sense of peace and well- being.

It means that you have chosen to release the pain of the past so that you can fully experience the present. It’s an act of freeing yourself. What a gift!

Think of it like this…if you are caught up in the pain of the past, how can you fully experience the joy of the now?

Holding on to frustration will not bring joy to our lives. To experience the joy of life, we’ve got to release these grudges-like balloons floating away and into the sky.  To do this, you’ve got to make a choice.

That choice is to let go and move on.

In closing this post, I want you to think about something. What grudges are you holding on to? And how would your life change if you made the decision to forgive?

Really make an attempt be present with this thought. Write down the things that you’re holding on to that you need to release.

I know this topic isn’t an easy one…but it is essential to our happiness and well-being. You deserve the joy that is waiting in the wings. But to see it, you have to let go of the clouds in the sky. Just behind the storm lies the joy that you seek-waiting for your embrace.

Stay tuned. In part two of this series, we’re going to go through the four steps to forgiveness.

To your mindfulness,

Dr. Marchand



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