April 24th, 2024

All Psyched Up: Forgiveness

By Linda Hancock on March 30, 2024.

Each year, as we enter the Easter season, my thoughts go toward the interesting concepts around forgiveness.

Often, I am saddened to hear people talk about how they will not forgive another person because that person does not deserve to be forgiven. Others claim they will not forgive because they have been too hurt to let go. A third group might subscribe to the idea that forgiving and forgetting are tied together.

When you refuse to forgive because you want someone to be punished by your judgement, unfortunately, you are the one who is trapped. The other person might not even know you have a grudge or are holding onto negative emotions.

They might not even know that something they said or did offended you. Your perspective therefore does not really hurt the other person. It just hurts you! The bitterness and hurt can grow and fester so that you cannot even enjoy anything in your life.

Feeling hurt is never alleviated by unforgiveness. There is not any freedom in allowing the ache and resentment to have control and a harmful root in your emotions.

Forgiving someone or something does not ever mean you need to forget what happened. It just means you can gain freedom and wisdom by choice. And the experience can help you learn how to set stronger and healthier boundaries to prevent further issues in the future.

Imagine for a minute what it would be like if someone tied you up in ropes and then walked away. As strange as it sounds, that person might think this is a joke. Or they believe you will wiggle your way out of this situation in a matter of minutes. Perhaps they believe someone will arrive on the scene in short order and untie you.

You can sit there for an exceptionally long time if all you focus on is upset and unforgiveness toward the person who tied you up. In the meantime, the other person is free.

You see, forgiveness is not about the other person. It is about freeing yourself so that you too can be free.

And what if you are on the other side of the situation and actually have offended against someone else?

When I worked in the school system, I would often teach students about the three steps to forgiveness as follows:

1. Clearly name the offence or issue out loud. For example, instead of just seeing someone cry and quickly saying “Sorry,” state what you did in a sentence. Say “I am sorry that I called you an idiot.”

2. Ask for forgiveness. Say “Please forgive me for doing this.”

3. Leave the rest to the person who you offended. You cannot make another person forgive you. All you can do is your part, which is listed in steps one and two above. It might take a long time for this person to forgive you but until they do so, it is their problem. Sadly, they might never come to a place where they can free themselves by forgiving you.

The Christian celebration of Easter is based on forgiveness. None of us are perfect (or even close) but this season is about recognizing that while being given the hope that is attached to forgiveness from God. (Way bigger than rabbits and chocolate eggs!)

Have a wonderful and freeing Easter knowing that you are loved and “good enough.”

Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com

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