The concept of forgiveness can be one that challenges a lot of people. Learning to forgive can be exhausting, confusing, and frustrating. However, forgiving is an essential skill that can bring you acceptance, peace, and growth when implemented into your life. We know it can be daunting and scary, which is why we made this list of 3 questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out why or how to forgive.
- How does holding onto this serve you? An important thing to ask ourselves is what we gain by holding onto something, and looking at what it is we think we’ll lose if we let go. Forgiveness can seem unappealing because many can feel that by doing so, we are letting ourselves or another person get away with something or acknowledging their actions as acceptable. That desire to hold on to something is one we have to look at to realize that refusing to forgive can affect ourselves more than it whoever we’re trying to forgive. Lewis B. Smedes once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover that the prisoner was you”. Holding on to anger or resentment can hold us back from finding our own inner peace, and by doing that, you’re only hurting yourself, not anyone else. Allowing yourself to forgive is essential because it can release you from the burden of holding on to that anger or grief, a burden that you were never meant to bear.
- If someone else has hurt me, why should I even forgive them? One of the first steps on the path to forgiveness is to realize that your decision to forgive is not about whoever hurt you — it’s about you. We might think that holding on to a grudge or refusing to forgive is a way of somehow punishing the one who hurt us, but in reality, we are only punishing ourselves. It’s impossible to change the past. Holding on to resentment will never change the actions or behavior of those who hurt you. When you choose to forgive, it doesn’t have to be for the sake of the other person. One of the most important reasons to forgive is because of how it can heal you, not because it is supposed to heal others. When you ask yourself why you should forgive someone, you can focus less on the other individual and instead reflect on how forgiveness will help you, and allow you to repair your own wounds.
- Why can I forgive others, but not myself? Forgiving ourselves can be an entirely different struggle because when there’s a need to forgive ourselves, one thing most likely standing in our way is guilt. Instead of our negative emotions being focused on another, those emotions all turn inward and can bring a sense of shame or self-hatred. Allowing forgiveness is not justifying our actions or ignoring them, it’s giving us the chance to improve and turn ourselves into better people. Forgiving yourself can give you peace of mind, and allow you to grow and learn from your mistakes instead of holding onto them and not letting yourself heal.