How Forgiveness Helps you Overcome Fear
Contributor
Written by
Terri Kozlowski
September 2019
Blogging
Contributor
Written by
Terri Kozlowski
September 2019
Blogging

Forgiveness is a powerful.  It is more potent for the forgiver than the forgiven.  When we hold on to old hurts and choose not to forgive, then we give up our power to the one who wounded us.  We have given them the control of an aspect of our life. 

 

Fear traps us and limits us from truly being connected to others and achieving our vision.  The capacity to be gracious, to forgive, to move forward past a disconcerting incident benefits all involved. 

 

Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is … powerful ~ Nelson Mandela

 

The Act of Forgiving Can be Hard

Some people are naturally more magnanimous than others. But, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving. It can be difficult for the one that was hurt.  Feeling injured, wanting to defend and protect ourselves from being harmed again. Desiring to let go but just can’t find a way to actually do it. 

 

Being offended by someone, especially someone you trust, can cause feelings of rage, sorrow and misunderstanding. Resentments, bitterness, and retaliation can take root when you dwell on upsetting circumstances.   If you allow these negative feelings to take over your mind, you can find yourself absorbed by your own animosity or sense of injustice. So, what do we do?

 

We withhold forgiveness.  By doing so we think we are refusing to let go of control, even if it is superficial. This is what the ego does.  It thinks that it’s maintaining the power because by withholding forgiveness we maintain control of the relationship.   The ego believes that we will go back to being powerless if we forgive.  This of course is not true.  So, how do we move past our fears, forgive and move forward?

 

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.  ~ Marianne Williamson

 

What Forgiveness Isn’t

Sometimes we don’t fully understand what forgiveness actually entails so we are fearful of preconceived notations that our not true.  Let’s look at what it isn’t. 

  • Forgiveness isn’t letting the wrongdoer off the hook.  They hurt you, whether or not you get one, they owe you an apology. 
  • Forgiveness isn’t letting the offence occur again and again.  This might mean that altering the relationship boundaries so that the opportunity for harm is no longer present. 
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean we take on a victim mentality.  The moment we take on the attitude that we are a victim we give up our power to the offender.  Victims don’t overcome, they stay stuck. 
  • Forgiveness isn’t the same as reconciling.  Reconciliation is the conscious decision to continue the relationship, with or without putting into place some new boundaries.  Moving forward with the relationship, doesn’t have to happen, it is a choice that is made. 
  • Forgiveness isn’t based on others actions, but on our attitude.  How we approach the offender is more important than whether or not they seek understanding, or if they choose just walk away from the relationship. 
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean denying the truth or overlooking recurring offenses.  We remember to remind us of what we no longer will tolerate from the one who hurt us. 

 

When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer

 

So, What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a progression, not an event. It begins with a conscious decision.  Although it may take time for us to work through our emotional reaction, letting go of the anger and resentment is the emotional part of forgiving. Emotional healing may or may not follow after we forgive, but we will feel a release of the negativity.  And, we will feel our power return.

 

Forgiveness is also an action.  We do this by expressing our feelings about the event.  Sometimes we need to let the other person know how we feel and have a conversation with them.  Other times we just need to acknowledge our feelings to ourselves, which can be done easily by journaling.  Putting your feelings into words is a great way to help you let go of the lingering negativity.

 

Also, we don’t have to tell the offender that we have forgiven them, unless they come to us and ask.  Remember, forgiveness is more for the forgiver than for the other person.  As we can see, forgiveness is a process of change we are committed to.  It’s an act of mercy not to hold the offence over the wrongdoer.  It is a conscious movement away from continued suffering and into compassion, not only for the offender if they apologize and we accept, but more for our own emotional well-being. 

 

Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom. ~Hannah Arendt

 

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of resentments and hostility can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to many benefits. 

 

  • Forgiveness creates healthier relationships, even if it isn’t with the person who offended you.  If you are holding onto the rage, then this anger may come out at someone who doesn’t deserve it.  This deflection is a way that the festering wound from one incident creeps into other relationships. 
  • Forgiving someone improves self-esteem.  The release of the negativity makes you feel better.  It allows for the internal peace and more positive energy to rise from within.  We should also be pleased that we were able to release the anger and start the process to move forward.
  • Less anxiety, stress, and hostility; especially when dealing with the offender.  When you hold onto the negativity you can get anxious at the thought of spending time with the person who hurt you.  By forgiving, this is alleviated, particularly if new boundaries were set up. 
  • Improved mental health and fewer symptoms of depression are also benefits of forgiving someone.  As one releases the destructive energy which causes the angst, our mental state improves.  We begin to come out of the destructive pattern of victimhood. 
  • Improved health by lowering blood pressure which is a direct effect of less stress.  Less anxiety can create a stronger immune system and restore your heart health.  If we stay internally enraged, we can cause health issues including gastrointestinal problems as well as sleep disturbances.

 

It can be hard to forgive and let go but it’s important to remember that harboring the resentment and holding a grudge can hurt you even more. The word ‘forgive’ really means to give something up for yourself not for them. ~Jack Canfield

 

How to Forgive

We now know what forgiveness is and isn’t, as well as the benefits of doing it.  So, how does one actually go through the process and come out on the other side with compassion?  One way is to look at the other person’s perspective.  It’s not about agreeing with what happened, it’s about understanding the incident from their side. 

 

Were they going through a tough period lately? Have you made comparable slip-ups? You know the other person is good, therefore accept that their reasons for what they did weren’t to deliberately cause you pain.  By looking at the issue from a different perspective you may find it easier to forgive. 

 

Letting go of your expectations of the other person can help you let go of the bitterness and resentment.  This is especially true if they do not apologize for their actions.  Our expectations of others may not be something they can meet.  It’s not necessarily that we have extreme expectations; it just may mean that they are unable to be something you want them to be. 

 

My mother was an alcoholic, unable to love and care for me the way that I needed to be.  I was able to understand that she loved me the best the she could despite that it wasn’t what I needed.  This allowed me to forgive her, release the anger and resentment I had towards her, and move forward with my life in peace.

 

We decide to forgive so that we can release the negativity.   Then by seeing the wrongdoer’s perspective and letting go of expectations, one can move through the conscious process of forgiving the other person.  In doing so we move forward, its an act of self-care.

 

Forgiveness is a reflection of loving yourself enough to move on. ~Dr. Steve Maraboli

 

Overcoming Fear

So, we have now forgiven the one who hurt us, what does it have to do with fear?  Our fear of being hurt again can keep us from forgiving.  Our fear of losing the justice we feel we deserve can have us withhold the understanding we know we should give. 

 

Here again, we see that the ego is filling our minds with untruths to keep in in the bondage of the past instead of allowing forgiveness to free us to move peacefully into the future. By keeping the anger and resentment alive though unforgiveness, the ego locks us in the past.  Anxiety builds within us and causes us sleepless nights.  

 

Ultimately, we want to feel better about the situation that occurred.  The ego locks us in the past and one thing I realized that I was wanting the past to be better than it was.  As crazy as it sounds, I wanted to replay the event over and over to see if it could have a better outcome.  Of course, it can’t.  It occurred; I was hurt.  Life moves on whether I do or not.

By letting go of the fear of the past events, we allow the present to come in and begin the healing process. 

 

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. ~Oprah

 

Get Help If You Need It

Sometimes it can be tough to forget about an incident and forgive, particularly if the offending actions were ongoing or traumatic. If you’re having difficulty knowing how to forgive somebody who’s mistreated you, think about working with me to help you process the feelings and support you through the process. 

 

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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