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Forgiveness is often seen and dismissed as a virtue of the saintly. Most people cling dearly to their anger, pain and sense of injustice. The choice of not forgiving might temporarily give you a sense of power – power to condemn, power to judge and hold the other person guilty, power of righteously being holier than thou. However, going one level deeper, one sees just how hollow and fictitious this power is. You are actually giving away your power, allowing the opposite person to push your buttons at will, to make you writhe in agony or cry in pain at a whim.

How does this happen?

When you find yourself unable to forgive, it obviously is because the emotional charge is still intense, because there still is too much pain and too much anger. What we don’t understand is that keeping the pain of the hurtful memories alive and feeding the anger, serves no purpose other than amplifying your misery. We assume that forgiveness will happen once we get over the pain.. but the flow can happen the other way round too. Be proactive and make life simple, forgive first and see the pain easing itself out of you.. And then the memories, the person will lose the ability to affect you as you will be at peace

Yes, this might sound easier said than done…but why is that so?

Why do we resist forgiveness?

The major difficulty and resistance to forgiveness primarily comes from the understanding that forgiving is to help the opposite person – to unburden him from guilt or repercussions of his actions; and in some way condones the action. This however is not true. Just check, how many of the people you are refusing to forgive are even aware of your emotions, or more importantly, just how many of them care about the fact that you have not forgiven them? More often than not, others will be carrying on with their lives. While they would prefer the forgiveness, the lack of it does not really make them sit and mourn or beg harder for it.. So the only one it is really affecting is YOU.

So, just how empowering is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is not giving in, it does not make what happened ‘right’. It is the acceptance that whatever happened – whether right or wrong, has passed and holding on to the unfairness of it will not change it. The sole purpose of forgiveness is unburdening you and helping you move on, shedding the unnecessary weight of past baggage. So just lighten up.

Some other tips that may help you forgive are accepting that there will be pain, that all is impermanent and that you play the most crucial role in the solution to your problems.

Post contributed by: Mahima Gupta (Psychologist, Inner Space, 2010-2012)

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