Build Healthy Relationships: The habit of Forgiveness

With the habit of forgiveness we come to what is a truly difficult part of the human journey: returning to our free, whole, and open-hearted selves after we have experienced significant pain. If we are unable to forgive, we are in a vicious cycle in which the score is never settled. When we are stuck in an unforgiving mode, the addictive powers of fear alter our mood, the speed of our breathing, our brain function, and our ability to maintain proper perspective on life.  No matter the unique circumstances of violations each of us has experienced, the underlying issue is whether we will remain stuck in the past or whether we will use the power of forgiveness to move our own lives forward toward freedom and love.

There are, however, people who have created their identity around their victimhood; playing the victim is the only script they know, and in always seeing themselves in that role they give up their ability to move on with their lives, burdening their minds and imagination; they have made the mistake of thinking that their misfortune defines them, that they are powerless to make choices. If you hold a grudge, continually revisit the painful experience, replay the infraction over and over again in your mind – this is an internal signal that we have accepted a victim’s mentality.

The 8 Habits of Love, by Ed Bacon, offers helpful thoughts on how to let go of bitterness and become whole again. Forgiveness is nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. When we experience a random and unjust hurtful act, we seek order and reason, but most often this mental exercise is futile. The habit of forgiveness is much more about the person who is suffering than the person who caused the pain. In putting all our energies into the desire to change someone else, we deprive ourselves of much-needed energy for our own transformation and growth; we thwart ourselves, putting up road blocks inside our loving selves. The habit of forgiveness is about regulating ourselves instead of trying to regulate others.

We are the only thing we have any real control over. Forgiveness is the process of freeing the person who is doing the forgiving; you do not have to reconnect with the wrongdoer in order to forgive, but in freeing yourself through forgiveness will help you achieve your heart’s deepest desire – to become whole and operate from your loving self as opposed to your fearful self. We must free ourselves to move forward.

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