What is forgiveness? Besides something we need to practice, above all, it is a gift we give ourselves, not a gift for someone else.
Want to know more? So did I and I learned a lot at the workshop, Anger, Forgiveness and the Healing Process by Dr. Paula Butterfield. She explained that we need to distinguish forgiving from forgetting, condoning or reconciling.
ForgettingForgive and forget is a myth. We rarely forget, but we can choose to forgive. Why would you ever choose this? To free yourself from resentment, bitterness and anger, which is a high-stress way to live.
Condoning. Forgiving doesn’t mean minimizing or denying the wrongdoing, or excusing trhe other person’s responsibility. It is possible for us to forgive the person without condoning the behavior.
Reconciling. At times, reconciliation is not an option. Some of the most difficult situations involve people who do not want our forgiveness and/or do not admit any wrongdoing. Still, the importance of forgiving is so the person forgiving can heal.
How do you get from here (hurting, suffering, feeling like a victim) to there (forgiving, healing your wounded heart, resilient survivor)? There are several paths you can take and one of my favorites [adapted from Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin) is to tell a 4-part story about your experience. Here are the steps–and you would write out each one in detail:
1. Describe the EVENT (what happened).
2. The IMPACT then (your survivor tale).
3. The MEANING now (your integration & learnings story).
4. The TRANSFORMING possibilities (how I can go forward and move beyond).
–by Janna Becherer, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Certified Imago Relationship Therapist
photo via Flickr: Tommah 321