How are we to just forgive and forget when someone has done us wrong? How am I to trust or let them back into my life after they have caused so much harm? We often find ourselves asking these questions and unsure how to answer them. Forgiveness can be a difficult subject to discuss and we have many different thoughts and feelings about it.
Dr. Fred Luskin, an expert on forgiveness, defines forgiveness as the experience of being in peace right now no matter what story drama has occurred 5 min or 5 years ago and no matter what has happened in any of our lives; at this moment we can be at peace.
Often when we hold a grudge, it creates a lack of peace in our life. Dr. Luskin states that the reason for this lack of peace, is that instead of letting go of an experience, we hold on to it because it went against our expectation of how the situation should have turned out. Yes, life happened, but rather than letting go we are left with emotional turmoil due to an inability to let go of our expectations. One crucial part of forgiveness is letting go and resetting these expectations of those that we feel have wronged us.
Often times I am asked, “Why is it that we must remember?” and “How am I ever supposed to let them in my life again?” Often we remember the situation that occurred so that we do not repeat the same mistakes again. Dr. Luskin explains this concept well, he explains that forgiveness is “actually remembering differently. While the lack of forgiveness is remembering something with an edge or a grudge or a sense of injustice, forgiveness means remembering it more benignly, with compassion. It involves some purpose of moving ahead, rather than just being stuck in the past”. When we forgive someone that does not mean that we automatically trust them or let them back in fully. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves not for the other person.
Luskin notes that in order to move forward and forgive we must first:
Take a hurt less personally
Take responsibility for how you feel
Then become a hero instead of a victim in the story we tell
Luskin notes that we must change from a victim story to a hero in our story. True forgiveness does not put the other person “in charge” but rather it places you in control of the situation. Luskin states, that “while you did not cause these things to happen, you are responsible for how you think, behave, and feel since those experiences occurred. It is your life, and they are your reactions and emotions to manage.”
Every day we have the choice on how we react to situations that we can take offense to. We can choose to react and fall into that default setting of harboring anger or we can take a step back, look at our emotions, and let go.
We have the choice day in and day out to forgive and move forward in our lives. Holding onto these grudges prevent us from our happiness. Letting go and forgiving provides us with the following:
Greater feelings of hope
More peace in your life
Improved physical and mental health
More positive attitude and outlook
If you are having a difficult time forgiving and letting go please reach out and schedule an appointment with Nate at the Cottonwood Heights office 801-944-4555.
Luskin, F. (2003). Forgive for good: A proven prescription for health and happiness. San Francisco: HarperOne.
It’s a common saying that we should forgive and forget when someone offends us, but the truth is that there’s a little more to forgiveness than that. Throughout my years as a therapist, I’ve worked with many clients who struggled with the concept of forgiveness (what it means, how to do it, etc.). Whether it’s with minor offenses or severe abuse, we don’t always quite get the whole idea of forgiveness. I define forgiveness as ceasing to feel resentment toward someone who’s wronged us. Forgiveness is beautiful and can heal hearts and relationships, but I think we still may misunderstand it at times. Here are some common myths about forgiveness:
I have been fascinated about the popularity of Disney’s new movie Frozen. What has led to its unprecedented success? Although the music, animation, and humor are excellent (and watching nieces and nephews sing along is priceless), I believe the core message of the film is what has resonated with so many people: Let it Go!
One of the most common phrases I hear from my clients is some variation of “I’m stuck,” “I don’t know what to do,” or “I am frozen.” This state comes from difficult past experiences or a fear of what may wait for us in the future. Whether it is a past hurt or a fear of something in the future, I have found that there are immense benefits that come from the process of letting go.
I’m giddy about being invited to talk with listeners on the Todd and Erin Morning Show. They’re now on air weekdays at Rewind 100.7 FM! I chatted with caller “Nicole” about whether or not to forgive her mother who has a history of alcoholism and abusive behavior.
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Whether you identify as a partner in a relationship, a member of a family, or coworker at your job, chances are someone you trusted has emotionally hurt you. When we get hurt we often feel victimized and become carried away in thoughts of retribution or self-pity. It is actually common for us to feel more powerful in our victimhood and become stuck in anger and resentment. It can be easier to remain in this state when we believe forgiveness means forgetting because forgetting could set us up for repeated grief. How much do you know about real forgiveness?
If you’re like me, you would rather walk barefoot through burning coals or attend a political fundraiser than actually admit you suffered a brief laps of judgement which led to hurting a loved one’s feelings. Perhaps the two most difficult words to say in the English language are “I’m sorry.” Why is it so hard to admit when we’ve made a mistake and then to offer a heart felt apology?
The truth is we all make mistakes. Misunderstandings occur even among the closest family members, friends, and coworkers. The good news is that a sincere and thoughtful apology can be a powerful tool to heal almost any relationship.
The following are five tips for offering sincere and effective apologies:
The light of springtime often inspires the cleaning out of clutter in your home and yard, and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out your emotional space: your thoughts and feelings. Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, emotional spring cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So, put down your mop and storage bins because I’ve got a different kind of spring cleaning for you. Here’s an emotional spring cleaning checklist to help you get started!