The Power of Forgiveness

In our practice at Healing Arts Center, we see many people who have experienced severe traumas in their lives.  The traumas can be caused by a multitude of factors – physical accidents, emotional or physical abuse, relationship issues or divorce, family issues, death of a loved one, life-threatening or chronic health problems, or even failures in business or careers.  Whatever the cause, these circumstances all create many of the same emotional scars: anger, betrayal, anxiety, depression, frustration, stress, and fear.

These scars can all perpetuate difficulties or inability to return to normalcy.  Physical symptoms often exacerbate, and a sense of happiness and peace evades us.  “Why did this happen?”  “How can I ever trust again?”  Friends often tell us to let time heal us – but frankly I have see too many people get “stuck” in a revolving door of hurt.  They are paralyzed and can’t move forward.

I believe there are things we can do to help ourselves progress and find healing.  Forgiveness is paramount.  The act of forgiveness can catapult your quest for peace and re-establish your ability to trust.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget what happened to you or your perceived personal failures.  It doesn’t mean that you assume blame for anything that transpired.  It also doesn’t mean that you adopt the attitude, “Oh, it’s okay, don’t worry about it.”  I believe that forgiveness begins with recognizing and reflecting upon what happened to you and not brushing anything under the carpet.  Bad things happen to all of us – it’s a part of life.  Knowing that your life will not be perfect is a big step toward recognizing adult responsibility and, in short, reality.

So what is forgiveness, then?  To me, forgiveness begins with realizing that everyone has their imperfections and limitations.  People aren’t perfect.  No matter what their age or experiences, we all have faults.  Faults may be inherent in our personalities or may be reflections of our upbringing or life experiences.  They are just part of the human experience.  I also feel that when we forgive a person their faults, we are in fact forgiving our own imperfections.  You cannot practice forgiveness without forgiving yourself as well as others. 

Forgiveness also entails realizing that every event and situation is a learning experience for our own personal and spiritual growth.  In order to make forgiveness a reality, ask yourself what you have learned from your experience.  You might even write yourself a letter or make a list of everything positive you feel you have gained.

Honest communication with yourself as well as others may also help you on the path to forgiveness.  Being able to communicate how you feel without blame or anger can help you sort out your emotions as well as help other people in sorting theirs.

Be open in sharing your feelings with the people who care about you and want nothing more than to help you on your healing path. Whether it be close friends, family, clergy, or even health care professionals, reach out without fear.  We have all experienced trauma, and their insights might be instrumental in helping you with your own personal growth.

It is also important to realize that you can forgive someone without maintaining a personal relationship with them.  Even if you love someone, it is sometimes best to maintain healthy boundaries to further enable your own healing process.  Relationships can be toxic, so they need to be managed.  “I love you, but I don’t agree with the things you do.  I need to stay away.” Lastly, if you feel you need extra help, please reach out to your providers at Healing Arts Center.  We are here for you, and we do care.

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