It is important to be able to forgive. If you can do it, you have a choice – to offer forgiveness or not – but many people fall at the first hurdle because of a misunderstanding. Or should I say, a single omission.
Forgiveness is a worthy pursuit and has many benefits apart from simply being ‘nice’. It’s a big subject, made all the bigger by the complicated and sketchy relationship with religeous belief. I’m not going to define forgiveness; I’m going to explain what makes it so hard to do (in my view).
There’s a step missing, you see
We are encouraged and exhorted to forgive, but never told how to go about it. Even if you knew (and I don’t have a formula), it still wouldn’t be any easier to get past hurt, fear, rejection, loss, damage and all the other things that we suffer and which might be assuaged by forgiveness.
I think that the vital missing step is that of Acceptance. If you can accept that you have been wronged then maybe, with a favourable wind and if the stars are in alignment, in time, you may come to forgive. Practicing Acceptance is a simpler, less onerous and painful step, than trying to force forgiveness.
Asking yourself to forgive immediately puts you in touch with the emotion that’s getting in the way. It re-awakens the very feelings you are trying to lay to rest. It is a step too far, and too soon.
Acceptance (coming to terms with the new reality. getting over, being ready to move on etc etc), is a part of psychological transition… Hopefully to a place where forgiveness can begin. Acceptance does not mean liking what has happened to you nor letting someone else of the hook. It means the start of setting yourself free to pick up the pieces and move on. Acceptance heralds healing, inner peace, and growth.
Give yourself time, learn first to accept, and in time you may be able to forgive.
Greater Good In Action: Eight Keys to Forgiveness