When it comes to your divorce, the very idea of forgiveness might feel impossible or even incomprehensible. You might ask yourself, “Why would I ever forgive someone who hurt me and ruined my life?” The answer is that just as anger and resentment feel empowering and often illusively relieve the pain of rejection, forgiveness can mistakenly feel like your pardoning your ex’s actions, or letting him or her off the hook. The truth is your anger and resentment create suffering, and your inability to forgive can keep you stuck.
Your ideas of forgiveness probably come from beliefs instilled in you early in life, and through messages you picked up from society and the media. Most likely, your definitions are distorted, making it impossible for you to even consider the “F” word. Your ability to forgive is an essential life skill that eases stress, increases happiness, and allows you to let go of the feelings that hold you back from living a fulfilling life. Understanding forgiveness and redefining how you perceive the act of forgiving is an essential part of moving on from divorce.
Here are five forgiveness facts to help you begin to let go and move on:
- Forgiveness is not forgetting: You have heard it many times: “Forgive and forget.” Forgiving is not forgetting, nor do you have to forget to forgive. Forgetting this part of your life would be throwing away valuable information you need to move forward. Your memories of both good and bad things will help you make informed decisions in the present and future.
- Forgiveness is freedom: Forgiveness frees you from the shackles of anger and retribution, which take up valuable space in your mind, body, and heart. Hanging on to the negative feelings you are experiencing with divorce is draining, and blocks you from healing and letting go.
- Forgiveness is natural: It is part of your human nature to repair broken bonds and relationships. Without forgiveness, we would have a hard time evolving as human beings because resentment and hatred toward others leads to isolation and disconnection. Let your natural inclination for forgiveness shine through, and your humanity will transcend your ill will.
- Forgiveness is about you: You were probably taught that forgiveness is about the person you are forgiving. Forgiveness is actually for you because it allows you to let go of anger, resentment, and vindictiveness. Forgiveness is a way to gain equanimity, and to take back the power of your life. You don’t even have to tell your ex that you forgive him or her for what was done. This can be your secret, your own personal process of healing.
- Forgiveness is acceptance: There is a period within the window of your divorce recovery that you will need to feel and acknowledge the depth of the pain you are experiencing. The goal is to feel the disappointment without having to make your ex the enemy. Accept what happened, and acknowledge the pain. Grieving will lay the foundation for forgiveness.
We all have ways we expect life to be, and when things don’t go as planned, it’s our nature to wish for things to be better, different, or more. However, it is a universal truth that people, situations, and circumstances don’t always work out how we want them to. Instead of objecting to the way life is, try practicing forgiveness and strengthen your capacity for acceptance of what has been put in front of you to overcome.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD, BCHN, therapist in Pasadena, California
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