Forgiveness does not come easy to most people. For them, it takes less effort to hold on to anger and resentment than to let them go. After all, our pain represents the part of us that is indignant and seeks justice. It is the part of us that demands better treatment.
However, the more we hold onto these feelings, the harder it is to let go. Bitterness and hate are shackles that bind us to a past we can no longer change. Making a conscious effort to forgive frees us from pain. Then, we embark on a journey towards healing.
This is the premise of forgiveness therapy. It chooses radical forgiveness over letting time heal wounds. The wronged person chooses to forgive. They let go of the desire for revenge. Instead, they engage with the experience in a more productive way.
Forgiveness therapy is an evidence-based treatment for resolving anger and other painful feelings. A therapist uses several strategies to help clients come to terms with a traumatic or difficult experience. It takes 12 sessions on average to achieve therapeutic goals.
Forgiveness does not magically happen with a snap of a finger. It’s not a one-time thing. There is no linear path to acceptance. In the same way, we process grief in stages; there are stages of forgiveness. In some cases, forgiveness may seem downright impossible.
This is where your therapist comes in. They may suggest various interventions to help you through a painful experience and reframe how you think about a situation.
In the process, you might discover some things you haven’t realized yourself yet. You may realize the extent to which you have allowed that experience to control your life. As you slowly move through the stages of forgiveness, you might develop empathy for the offender. The final step is to hold on to that state until you find the strength to move on.
If you want to learn more about the healing powers of forgiveness, here are the frequently asked questions about forgiveness therapy.
What are the four stages of forgiveness?
The four stages of forgiveness are:
- Feeling the pain of the situation or the wrongdoing.
- Anger, wherein you start to feel hatred towards the person or for what happened to you.
- Refusal to forgive the person. It happens because you will lose control of the situation and make the wrongdoer think that what they did to you was okay.
- Forgiveness and healing where you find peace and relief from the pain and hurt brought about by the wrongdoing.
What are the 7 Steps to Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process, and like any other process, there are steps that one has to go through to find the path to healing and, ultimately, forgiveness.
- Acknowledge that you have been hurt by what happened.
- Evaluate how the situation impacted your life.
- Accept that you have no control over what happened anymore.
- Ascertain if you are ready to forgive the person or not. The result of this step is crucial.
- If you decide to forgive the wrongdoer, you need to take steps to repair the relationship.
- Learn from what happened.
- The last step is finally letting go and moving on, which is the complete state of forgiveness.
What does forgiveness do for the forgiven?
It helps them move on and forgive themselves as well. If they choose to learn from the mistake, it makes them better individuals too. Sometimes, it also repairs the relationship and makes it better than before.
How can I increase my forgiveness?
You have to address the internal pain you experienced first, so you can forgive yourself and have a deeper understanding of why forgiveness matters. Please acknowledge that we are built differently. You need to understand that people can hurt you unconsciously. Like you, they may also have internal sufferings that they go through as well. You have to be more empathic with the people around you and acknowledge that we have different burdens. Do not be hard on yourself and be more open to making mistakes and forgiving yourself in the process.
What is true forgiveness?
True forgiveness is not condoning or making up excuses for what was done to you, but it is choosing your peace over the grudge you have against the person who wronged you. It is a conscious choice of letting go of the hurt, the resentment, and seeking revenge against the wrongdoer. The person may not deserve it, but true forgiveness is choosing yourself and giving yourself the freedom to let go.
What did Jesus say about forgiveness?
There were a lot of verses in the Bible wherein forgiveness was mentioned. One of these is Matthew 18:21-22, wherein he told Peter that he should forgive his brother or sister seven times but seventy times seven times.
Why do I struggle with forgiveness?
You may find it hard to forgive because people usually associate forgiving with condoning the wrongful act that was committed. Many think that ignoring the person is equivalent to patronizing and minimizing the mistake and that doing so may send the wrong message of inviting them back into their lives. On the other hand, others think that forgiving is unfair because it just helps clear the person’s conscience.
What is the healing power of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the key to helping us move forward and let go of the hurt and pain encountered in the past. It helps us to be more optimistic in the future and eases the burden we carry in our hearts. It lets us be more open to people and form better relationships with them.
How does forgiveness heal?
Forgiveness heals not only the hearts or the minds, but it also heals the bodies. Research shows that choosing to forgive and let go lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. It also strengthens the immune system and reduces gastrointestinal problems or other body pains.
Why can’t I forgive and move on?
Sometimes this is due to the intensity of the wrongdoing done. You may find it hard to forgive when you feel that forgiving makes you lose power and control over what happened. At the same time, you may think that forgiving will make you vulnerable. You may also be looking at forgiveness as a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength.
How do you release anger and forgiveness?
Releasing anger and forgiveness starts with you. You have to start by consciously forgiving yourself first. Recognize that your feelings are valid and that it is okay to feel sad or angry because you were hurt. Once you have successfully processed your emotions, start acknowledging that everyone is flawed and are working to be better people like you.
Learn how to balance your thoughts because this may cloud your perspective to be more positive and forgiving. Please acknowledge that you have no control over what happened in the past, and you can no longer change it, so live in the present and focus on the good things that are happening to you right now.
How do you forgive someone who has hurt you emotionally?
Realize that in some instances, forgiveness cannot happen overnight. You do not have to force it or rush into forgiving that person. Let the emotions come in, and feel them as much as you need to. They will tone down on their own, and once this happens, you have to understand why you felt this way and stop blaming yourself. Let go of the anger, the resentment, the feeling of annoyance, and expectations from that person. Acknowledge what you have learned from that experience and focus on the learning than the wrongdoing.
How do you move on when someone doesn’t forgive you?
Every person goes through the forgiveness stages differently. Some people forgive faster and better than others, and some have a hard time doing it. First, you have to ask what you can do to repair the relationship. If it seems like they do not want to accept your apology, you have to take the consequence of your wrongdoing and be hopeful that they may need more time to process their emotions before completely forgiving you. If the unforgiveness is affecting your day-to-day life, it is best to attend a counseling session.
Is it okay to never forgive someone?
It is entirely okay to not force or rush yourself into forgiving someone. Although others may push you to forgive a person, listening to what you feel like you need to do is essential. If you think that forgiving is against your will, it will be best to set it aside until you are ready.
How do I let go of vengeance?
List down the people you have hatred towards, and list down the traits that made you hate them. This way, you will know how you can address these bottled up emotions, and you can let the anger out by talking to a trusted person about this list. They may also help you be grounded and realize that this anger you are currently feeling does not define you, and you are not that kind of person. If you still feel vengeful towards someone, it will also help you think of the consequences that the act may bring.
Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. When we are unwilling to forgive, we harm ourselves more. Studies show that holding onto a grudge has negative impacts on our mental and physical well-being.
Staying stuck in a cycle of hate and revenge can make a person more vulnerable to developing conditions and self-destructive behaviors. Prolonged stress can also result in physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and fatigue. It can make you physically sick.
When we forgive, we acknowledge and let go of repressed feelings. True forgiveness releases the burden of negative emotions.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean repairing a damaged relationship. You can forgive and not want someone in your life. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive.
Forgiveness is not limited to other peoples. More often than not, you have to forgive yourself. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard. When we fall short, we punish ourselves. If we can forgive others, make sure to be equally kind to ourselves.
Often, people who forgive are more likely to be happier in general and more resilient to everyday setbacks. They demonstrate higher levels of empathy, resolve conflicts without turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, and may even be more resistant to illness. They can lead more productive lives.
The weight off our shoulders that comes with forgiveness can be incredibly liberating. Forgiveness leaves you free to make more meaningful and stronger connections. Forgiving life for what it’s given you can help you better appreciate life’s pleasures more fully and experience happiness on a deeper level.