… just a quick note to let you know that today is Global Forgiveness Day.
Is there someone you need to forgive or even want to forgive, but just haven’t had it in you? And if you did finally forgive, how would that affect your relationship with that person or group? Even more importantly, how would it affect your relationship with yourself?
The great, late Nelson Mandela said,
It’s true that when we haven’t forgiven someone or some group, anger turns into resentment, resentment festers within us, and eventually it becomes like an open wound, going with us everywhere we go, and quite possibly poisoning everything we do. Yikes!
Forgiving doesn’t mean that we condone another’s behavior. The Greater Good Science Center has this to say about what forgiveness is and is not:
“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
“Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.
“Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.”
Although it’s not pretty, I’ll admit that I, too, have succumbed to the temptation not to forgive. And don’t worry, I won’t ask you to report in on whether or not that’s true for you. My only request is that you take a risk and join me, if only for this one day, and do yourself the giant favor of forgiving just one person or group, and just as GreaterGood says, empower yourself to… heal and move on with your life.”
If you’re wondering how in the heck to do that, go back to that Greater Good page, and look at the column on the right. It has additional articles on forgiveness, even one called “How to Cultivate Forgiveness,” as well as book recommendations, videos, and a quiz.
While it’s certainly vulnerable, and it may not be very fun for us to do this, both the relief and release will be liberating, won’t they? And just think of how much energy we will free up. What will you do with that energy? Whatever it is, I hope it allows you to be all that you are and to have the positive impact on the world that only you can.
Who knows? Maybe it’ll feel so good that we do it more than one day a year. 🙂
PS FYI: In the spirit of multi-purposing, I’m calling this post on Forgiveness Day the “F” installment in the AB…Zs of Self-Care series of blog posts.