Forgiveness and healing are intertwined, like two sides of the same coin. Forgiveness is the act of consciously releasing negative emotions and letting go of grudges, hurts, and resentments towards those who have wronged us. It’s a profound choice that allows us to free ourselves from the burdens of the past and open the door to healing.
Healing, on the other hand, is a process of restoring our emotional, mental, and even physical well-being after experiencing pain or trauma. Together, forgiveness and healing work hand in hand, offering us the opportunity to release the past, find closure, and embrace inner peace and wholeness. It’s a journey that requires courage, self-compassion, and effort, but the rewards of forgiveness and healing are immeasurable, bringing about transformation and growth.
A real-life example of how forgiveness helped a person heal is the story of Eva Mozes Kor, a Holocaust survivor. Eva was just 10 years old when she and her twin sister Miriam were taken to Auschwitz, a notorious Nazi concentration camp where they were subjected to inhumane experiments by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele.
Despite the unimaginable trauma she experienced during the Holocaust, Eva made the courageous decision to forgive her captors and the Nazi regime. She believed that forgiveness was a way to free herself from the burden of anger, hatred, and bitterness that could have consumed her.
In the years following the Holocaust, Eva dedicated her life to promoting forgiveness, tolerance, and understanding. She forgave not only the Nazis but also those who denied or downplayed the atrocities of the Holocaust. She even met with former SS officer Oskar Groening, known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz,” and publicly forgave him.
Forgiveness is thus a profound ability to consciously release all the shackles of anger, resentment, and negative thoughts towards those who have wronged us. It’s a challenging journey, with varying steps for each individual, filled with good days when we feel on top of the world, and bad days when painful memories are triggered.
Yet, reaching the end of this journey is worth every effort. While the memory may always linger, forgiveness loosens its grip on us, allowing us to experience a sense of freedom within ourselves as we let go. As the saying goes, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it’s letting go of the hurt.” It’s not about pretending it never happened or making excuses for it. It’s about healing ourselves, freeing our hearts from grudges, hurts, and bitterness.
To start this healing journey, here are various ways in which forgiveness helps in healing:
It helps you acknowledge the hurt:
As author Vironika Tugaleva said, “Emotions need motion.”
Forgiveness is not about denying or dismissing the hurt, but rather, it’s about acknowledging it in a healthy and constructive way. It’s about recognizing the pain and allowing ourselves to feel the emotions associated with it, without getting stuck in a cycle of resentment, anger, or bitterness. Through forgiveness, we can confront the hurt head-on, without suppressing or avoiding it, which is a vital step towards healing.
Forgiveness also promotes healing by helping us let go of the emotional baggage that comes with holding onto grudges or resentments. When we forgive, we release ourselves from the burden of carrying negative emotions that can hinder our healing process. It frees up our emotional energy and allows us to focus on self-care, self-compassion, and nurturing our own well-being.
It helps you reconcile with yourself:
We all make mistakes and have regrets. Forgiving ourselves is crucial in the journey of forgiveness. It’s about making peace with our past choices and accepting ourselves with compassion and understanding. Reconciling with ourselves through forgiveness involves letting go of the need for perfection and embracing our imperfections. It means acknowledging our flaws, mistakes, and failures, and learning from them without dwelling in self-blame or shame. It’s about nurturing a positive and loving relationship with ourselves, one that is built on forgiveness, kindness, and acceptance.
Forgiving ourselves also enables us to move forward with a sense of freedom and empowerment. It liberates us from the self-imposed chains of guilt and regret, and allows us to live in the present moment with a renewed sense of self-worth and self-esteem. As Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Forgiveness sets us free from the internal conflict and turmoil, and opens the door to self-reconciliation and healing.
It allows you to seek help when required:
A lot of times, when we are hurt, we think that we do not require anyone’s help and that we shall do it on our own.This is where Forgiveness comes into picture. It allows you to seek a support system that can provide a safe space to express our emotions, receive empathy, and gain encouragement to make conscious decisions to forgive. As the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”
Support can also provide perspective, helping you gain insight and understanding as you work through your feelings and process the pain associated with the situation. Having someone to talk to, share your experiences with, and seek advice from can provide comfort, encouragement, and a sense of companionship during the healing process. It’s important to remember that forgiveness is a personal journey, and finding the right support can play a pivotal role in helping you navigate the challenges and ultimately find healing and peace.
It allows you to choose kindness over being right:
Dalai Lama XIV said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.“
When we approach a situation with kindness, we open ourselves up to understanding the other person’s perspective and experiences. It allows us to step into their shoes and see the situation from their point of view. This empathetic approach can help us better understand the underlying reasons behind their actions, including their pain, struggles, or insecurities. It promotes a deeper level of understanding and compassion, which can foster healing and resolution.
Moreover, choosing kindness over being right can also positively impact our own well-being. It allows us to release the burden of being right or seeking revenge, and instead, focus on forgiveness, understanding, and moving forward in a positive direction.
In essence, choosing kindness over being right not only promotes empathy and understanding towards others but also aids in our own healing journey. It enables us to cultivate a compassionate mindset, foster healthy relationships, and create a positive environment that nurtures healing and growth. It’s a powerful reminder that choosing kindness can be a significant step towards healing and promoting emotional well-being.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool in the process of healing. It allows us to acknowledge hurt, reconcile with ourselves, choose kindness over being right, and find support. It empowers us to let go of grudges, cultivate empathy, and embrace self-compassion.
As we release the burden of resentment and anger, forgiveness opens the door to healing, growth, and ultimate liberation. So, let us embrace the transformative power of forgiveness on our journey towards healing and wholeness.