Chances are, you have been hurt in the past, and you have experienced the anger, pain, frustration and resentment that comes along with the pain of knowing you have been injured by the words and/or actions of another. All of these emotions, whether you know it or not, have somehow shaped your current perception of the world, along with the decisions you make, your health, your attitude - nearly every aspect of your life.
So, the critical question is - to what extent can you let these negative emotions go and forgive the person who hurt you?
Holding on to anger or resentment can sometimes trigger an addictive sense of strength and righteousness. It can feel good to blame someone else, but the downside is that it also leaves a negative imprint on us. Ultimately, who wants to have a life defined by anger, pain or suffering? There's an important distinction about the act of forgiving - you can still condemn the act while forgiving the person who committed it. Forgiveness can't be forced, but if you're open to the possibility, it will come at the right time and the right place. You might wake up one morning and think "Now is the time to move on since my divorce" or "I'm tired of focusing on how selfish my brother has been all his life".
Forgiveness is not easy. It's not a benevolent gesture to be bestowed on someone who has wronged you, to free them from guilt. Actually, it's not about the other person at all. Instead, it's an active, challenging internal process that is specifically meant to help you. It is a shedding of those negative emotions that hold you back, that prevent you from feeling peace, happiness, and even love.
Tim Laurence, founder of the Hoffman Institute in the UK, strongly believes that forgiveness is an essential part of healing. Over the past 15 years, he has been amazed by the courage he has witnessed as people let go of anger and pain.
"I have seen people whose lives have been determined by a grievance that has affected not only themselves, but also generations after them. To then see that person forgive and be able to move on in their lives is like watching them unlocking the door to their own prison and stepping out into freedom," Laurence said.
Not every person or every situation that has hurt us is meant to be a part of our lives and memories forever. Sometimes, they are there for a period of time to teach us something, and once their purpose is served they move on and the next chapter of our story begins.
As difficult as it may be to let people, or their hurtful actions, go, whether they are a long time friend, a family member, a spouse, or a lover, when we forgive them we create a space for them to move onto their next chapter, as well as ourselves.
The faster you can forgive those who have caused you pain and let go of the memory of the injury, the quicker you can focus on creating the most amazing life imaginable.
So, take the time to soak in what's happened, learn from it, laugh a little and when you're ready, set yourself free. You'll be amazed at how much lighter you feel when you no longer carry around the burden of the past.