This amazing blog www.antidotetoanxiety.co.uk is a great read and here is one of the thought provoking posts on forgiveness:
Forgiveness is such a powerful tool. One that we forget can really set us free mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m fully aware that that sounds like such a cliché, but it’s true and here’s why.
Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things to do and come to terms with which also makes it one of the most rewarding feelings we can experience.
A Lack of forgiveness can lead to:
and I believe is one of the main reasons I’ve been suffering from anxiety, at least lately.
Maybe you can relate to my experience with this too.
Recently some dark monsters of mine have been creeping back up – some old shadows have been reappearing and they have made some new friends.
I’ve found myself getting really caught up mentally in my head. It seemed as if the world was battling against me – leading to being emotionally exhausted. It felt a bit like my head was a sinking ship, first I was able to make it to the highest point, then the whole ship went down and I was treading water, faster and faster but then wave after wave came crashing over me.
I’ve also been hyper aware of the fact that I was getting more emotional and frustrated with myself and my lack of control.
And so I’ve started to battle voices in my head again. The voices have been angry mostly. For example, a situation would occur that would make me feel anxious. I’d go quiet, start to feel my heart almost thudding out my chest and a feeling of anger would come over me. My head would turn negative, the voices started speaking louder saying horrible things like ‘You’re worthless’ and ‘You’re weak’ and ‘Best you just take yourself away.’ (I sometimes feel a bit like Gollum/Smeagol from Lord of the Rings. I will now always hold a special place for him in my heart!) There is a constant battle of trying not to listen to that negative voice and not let it take over, and that mental battle has been so tiring.
How can I learn to not let that anger control and dictate my life?
Then today, it hit me. On a very regular Monday (it may not be Monday when you are reading this, that is ok) I realised I need to forgive. Let me explain how and why.
When I’ve thought of forgiveness in the past I’ve thought it meant forgiving someone else for the hurt they caused and just accepting the betrayal or pain – almost saying what they did was okay or what I did to someone else or myself is ok. I thought it was just excusing it, accepting it.
It hit me when I was listening to a podcast, don’t laugh at me here or judge, but it was: ‘Oprah’s Super Soul conversations’ where Oprah talks to a number of professors, gurus, physiologists and even lawyers on the subject of forgiveness. I felt like everything they were saying was coming straight from my own head. (Come on, I’m not the only one who has had a lightbulb moment while watching Oprah!)
I felt as if I was having a conversation with Oprah saying, ‘This is what I think forgiveness is…’ and she’d say, ‘No and here’s why’.
Before I go on, I know you are probably thinking, ‘Oh dear here she goes,’ blabbering on and on about Oprah and how amazing she is like every other Gen Z 20 to 30-year-old. CLASSIC. But hear me out before you judge or laugh at me, that’s totally okay because this is working for me, so I’ll just carry on with what works for me and hope that someone reads this post and it works for them too. Also, you don’t have to carry on reading…
So, one doesn’t forgive to condone somebody else’s behaviour, one forgives for oneself. Forgive to set yourself free of the pain and live to your full potential without pain dragging you down.
Forgiving someone for the pain they caused you or forgiving yourself for the pain you caused means you can let go of all of the anger and frustration holding you back. Just watch the negative voices in your head become quieter and mentally you’ll feel a little bit lighter.
I’ve been struggling to find a word that would fit with what I mean when I say, ‘a little bit lighter’ and then my dad just said it so clearly, ‘You find a little bit of peace.’ It is obvious now, that forgiving leads to having a bit more peace in your life, an end to the battle and more energy that comes from that. YOU are in control of that, which is such a relief because you can’t control others, only yourself.
Some quotes really stood out to me from that podcast and I’d like to share them with you:
‘Forgiveness is giving up the Hope that the past could be any different.’
Dr gerald G. Jampolsky
‘Make peace with the pain that’s holding you in the past.’
‘Surrender to hurt, resentment and disappointment. Accept the truth – it did happen and now it’s done.’
This one is a personal favourite of mine by Maya Angelo – ‘You forgive, and it relieves you, you are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter when you drop that, just drop it then you are free to do other things to have some ambition and so forth.’
‘You can’t forgive without loving, I don’t mean sentimentality I don’t mean mush, I mean having enough courage to stand out and say I forgive, I’m finished with this.’
That last part by Maya Angelo is really powerful to me – it really makes me feel as if we should forgive not for others but for ourselves. Give yourself a chance to thrive and transfer that energy you are exercising on anger or hurt and use it for good. Set good ambitions, ain for a good direction for yourself, channel it into work or relationships and use that energy to enhance your life and live your life to the fullest.
I think one key thing to bear in mind when you are reading this is that, some things come in time.
When there is fresh betrayal, hurt, anguish or sadness it may not be the time straight away to forgive. That is okay. But be mindful that you don’t hold on, don’t hold onto the pain and become bitter. You need to decide and be aware when that feeling no longer has value to you, if it’s weighing you down, then it’s time to let it go.
By that I don’t mean you enjoy the feeling of being hurt , or make the best of being hurt, I mean when that feeling of being hurt becomes boring or you are exhausted of feeling sad, or its preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve in your life- Let it go for it no longer holds purpose to you. You’re finished with it. Forgive – forgive for YOU in order to live the life you want to live.
I don’t believe you have to forget in order to forgive, which is why I don’t like the phrase ‘forgive and forget.’ I believe you can forgive and be aware, protect yourself and not be in the position where you can be hurt again, or you can hurt others again. Learn from the mistakes and use them as lessons going forward and to teach others.
I haven’t used forgiveness as a tool to help with anxiety before but now it seems so clear and obvious to me. It’s a bit like gratitude in the sense that you should practise it frequently. Forgiveness is something that I will certainly take into my future.
For me forgiveness has shined light on spaces that were once hidden before, and I’ve found I can now plan for the future, whether that be the 5-year plan or just what I’m going to do next month. It’s allowed me to take that step in the right direction again and walk along my road a little bit more freely. Again, I have found a little bit of peace.
So, go ahead and step boldly guys, have your hearts open, FORGIVE but not necessarily forget.
FORGIVE and do it for no one other than YOU.
FORGIVE and find yourself some peace and when you do, celebrate that a because nobody else can make you forgive, only you are the one that can do that for yourself.
‘True purpose of forgiveness is to live your life freely.’
Featured image: Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash