Forgive Me? Please. Forgive You? Probably Not. Forgive Myself? That’s Work!



Forgive Me? Please. Forgive You? Probably Not. Forgive Myself? That’s Work!

by

L.T. Force, Ph.D.

Gerontologist

The “act of forgiveness” is a dynamic and multi-dimensional process.

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Definition of Forgiveness:

“What Is Forgiveness? Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

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Throughout our lives, we have experienced either “asking for forgiveness” or have “been asked by someone for forgiveness”. In addition, we all have the “internal dialogue with ourselves” of reviewing actions, thoughts and regrets and have: “asked ourselves for forgiveness”. (With respect to regret, years ago, myself and a colleague worked on a project called: “Regret, the Cruelest Emotion”. We surveyed over 400 people in the midlife age range. The interesting findings were - their life stories and narratives: “portrayed regret as magical”. They felt if: “they did do something they had not done….or they didn’t do something they had done - the outcome would have been better”. In fact, no one knows that for sure - but that is what they felt- the magical components of regret). Interesting!

So where are we today? We know when we: “do ask someone for forgiveness” (as a result of our actions) - the expectation and hope is: “that we are forgiven” - we feel much better and life continues on. I think this is the easiest form of forgiveness….asking someone for forgiveness and them saying: “I forgive you”. Then we move to: “being asked by someone for forgiveness”. This is not an easy one! People in general are not prone to easily forgive. They may even say to themselves:

”I will forgive….but I won’t forget”. Is that true forgiveness….a true sense of: “letting go”? Probably not! But it can be a step in the right direction.

And then we get to the: “strongest critic …. ourselves”. And this is where we go to work! “We talk to ourselves more than anyone else talks to us - (and we typically say things to ourselves that we would never allow anyone to say to us). And often - don’t give ourselves - a pass!” So, the question is what to do? The answer is: “be selfish”….understand that by: “granting forgiveness to someone - the gift is to you - it’s your relief”. (Just think how you feel when someone forgives you.) And by: “granting forgiveness to yourself this is the greatest gift!” What we expect from others - we should expect from ourselves. Yes, it is hard work - “forgiveness is....a practice” - it gets easier as time passes. The “act of forgiveness” of: (“others and self”) is a dynamic and multi-dimensional process.

Now go out there (or go into your own head) and “practice forgiveness - with your words, thoughts and actions - clear out the darkness“. It will begin to feel similar to when….you see the sun peeking through the clouds….a new day, a new light and a new way ahead. Because when you do forgive….and let go….you move on. You’re worth it