The Gift of Forgiveness
The gift of forgiveness can be one of the most beautiful gifts in the world. But in order to receive its full benefit, there are certain concepts to learn first.
The first concept is that, although we often think of forgiveness in the text of forgiving others, we need to think of forgiving ourselves for all that we lay blame. This can become a major pitfall for people with psychiatric disorders.
Using myself as an example, I remember often feeling guilty and blaming myself for becoming sick. It was my fault I was so depressed, anxious, self-abusive and suicidal. I also blamed myself for all the hurt and hardships I placed upon others, especially those closest to me. Whether it was the pain of others not being able to help me, or others having to make sure bills were paid and that I went to doctor appointments, it was only because of me that they had to go through this. Even after I had recovered, I remember continuous guilt and self-blame.
What finally turned the tables for me was a conversation during a therapy session. The therapist had asked me that if the roles were reversed, and it was a loved one who had gone through what I had, would I wish for them to keep blaming themselves? After some thought, I came up with the conclusion that: of course I wouldn’t want them to; that I would just feel happy that they were feeling so much better. Once that thought started to really sink in, I started to slowly realize that I shouldn’t be blaming myself, and my friends and loved ones were happy that I was feeling better. I learned to forgive myself, which was the best thing I could do for myself, as well as my friends and loved ones.
The next concept has to do with forgiving others. This has been a topic of major controversy for as long as time. I hated my own father for as many years as I can remember. He was an alcoholic whose behavior was the reason our family grew up very poor, even though my mother worked full time. He was also verbally abusive and a major cause for my low self-esteem, which extended long past childhood. I swore I would never forgive him for all the harm he caused, even after he passed away. What I didn’t realize at that time was by not forgiving him, and being full of all that hatred, I was only hurting myself. I certainly wasn’t hurting him. When I finally decided to forgive him, it was as if a giant breath of stress that had accumulated over decades left my body. I could now focus more on the present instead of dwelling on the past. What I’m saying is that whether the person deserves forgiveness or not, finding it within your heart to forgive is in your best interest, even if not theirs.
Also, when I’m talking about forgiving someone, I’m talking about internally, in your heart. I’m not saying you have to physically go up to them and tell them you forgive them (unless you want to). This forgiveness is a gift you are giving to yourself. And a most precious gift it is.