Have you ever been unable to forgive someone?

What is forgiveness?

Many people think that forgiveness is the same as condoning or saying "what you did is okay". In this regard, forgiveness can be seen as excusing someone's behavior and that some behavior is unforgivable.

Some people view forgiveness as an act of weakness and that someone who has cast a stone at us deserves to have a stone, or even a boulder thrown back in return.

But in the words of Mahatma Gandhi “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

If you want a relationship that gets better over time, then I promise you, you will need to learn the skill of forgiveness.

What forgiveness is not:

Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing.

What happened has already happened - it is too late to do anything about it now.

Forgiveness is also not a feeling. Sometimes people confuse forgiveness with understanding. You do not need to understand something in order to be able to forgive. You do not need to be able to feel something in order to be able to forgive.

To forgive is to give up the hope that the past could have been any different.

It is to accept reality and to see things as they are, rather than as we think they should have been. When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you do change the future.

Forgiveness is something you choose.

It is a choice to give as you gave before.

And when you make this choice - you make it for yourself, not for the person we feel wronged by.

To not forgive would be to allow your light to be diminished, your voice to stifled, your love to be shrunken. 

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness has nothing to do with other person. "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner is you". #LoveSmarter

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If you are really stuck on something from the past that you are having a hard time forgiving, try this exercise:

1) Set a timer for 10 minutes.

2) On a blank piece of paper, write everything that has upset you, hurt you, that you think and feel about the incident. Write about what you get out of holding on to the past and write about what it is costing you to withhold forgiveness. Write fast and furious! No filter.

When I do this, by the time I'm done, my page is totally illegible. If it is something I am angry about, then I write angry! I use all capitals, I write with so much pressure sometimes I carve words into the page. I allow myself to fully experience the emotion as I write about it. Sometimes it feels like my hand takes over and words are being written without going through my brain first.

3) Write until the timer goes off. You may end up writing the same thing over and over again. If you feel an urge to yell, or cry, or pound your fists - do it! Let it all out! When the timer goes off. Stop. If there is more to say, keep writing until you've gotten it all out. 

4) Take the paper to your kitchen sink, get a match, and light it on fire. The physical release of the paper will provide a physical release in your body. You will feel a weight lift.

If it is not safe for you to light the paper on fire, you can tear it up into tiny pieces and flush it down the toilet instead.

There is something powerful about this physical release that makes it easier to let go.

Practice forgiveness. Forgive others. Forgive yourself.

Forgive the little things. Forgive the big things. Forgive them for being late, for interrupting you or for forgetting that thing you’ve told them one hundred times. Forgive the time they lied, forgive the betrayal, forgive the past hurts. Forgive everything. Choose to accept that things happened, how they happened. Holding onto it only brings it into your future.

Put in place whatever needs to be in place to prevent it from happening again in the future and move on.

There might be times when you get upset about this incident again in the future. Remind yourself that you chose to forgive. And choose it again. Right there in that moment. Choose it as many times as it takes.

Because withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Let it go. Forgive.