Hey Gemmers, Dr O back in the building to give you your weekly dose of #Selfcare vitamins and today’s prescription is on the act of forgiveness. Warning, you may experience side effects such as discomfort, disagreement, stubborness etc haha but for the most part I hope you enjoy it. Let’s goo!
Who hurt you?
I usually see this question on Black Twitter (yes! It’s absolutely a thing) when someone has a 240 character or less outburst and gets massive retweets and likes. Obviously, this question absolved of the funny reactions and all that social media hoo-ha goes much much deeper. It is impossible to live in this world and not get hurt by your environment or the people around you. Whether you’ve been avoiding hurt for a long time it’s bound to happen, if you’ve seen the movie 300, Xerxes the Persian King avoided harm for so long but man like Leonidas had to change that with his spear haha. Anyway, we’re here to talk about forgiving people who’ve hurt you whether it’s on purpose or not, it could be a stinging betrayal, cheating, or even committing a crime, the list is endless of how people can hurt you. An anime I just finished watching yesterday, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic showed how unforgiveness almost brought about the end of the world, though this is extreme, the dark clouds of unforgiveness can only produce acid rain. In other words, unforgiveness can have major negative consequences and can rob you of happiness in your life.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m chill and can’t be bothered with many things, certainly don’t have strength for a grudge (Abeg I can’t come and kill myself) but once in a while the strength comes. So, it was the year 2016, I think it was during the Easter break or so and this new restaurant came to town and in true uni student fashion I was broke or on the brink of being and my boy came through telling that the restaurant is hiring so I was gassed. I did know I didn’t belong anywhere near a restaurant but I applied, I got interviewed and now it’s orientation time. All of the applicants were seated, we heard what they had to say and we got served food, food was good. Now they tell everyone except me to start work and I’m confused, what about me? Oh no worries, we’ll get back to you, days passed, called them up same response and well that was it! I never got called back or nothing. I was mad, confused, were they racist? No, they had enough black employees. I guess I was just mad they couldn’t reject me with their chest but resorted to less confrontational means. etc. but I moved on, got a new job I still ate their food though when my friend brings it home…it’s free food I have no shame! I even went out with them on a night out, a day before New Year’s Eve…such a dead party but free ride too and drinks so no shame again. I never went there to eat but I’ll say I bear no ill will toward them.
What is forgiveness?
According to my Google search it means two things:
(a) To stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.
(b) To cancel a debt. The parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) told by Jesus comes to mind, a quick summary is a servant was owing his master a huge debt let’s say a $100M and he begged, rolled around etc and he was absolved of all debt, like it never happened. When he went out he saw a fellow servant who owed him far less, let’s say $100 and he maltreated and humiliated him, wanting his money immediately, if he was a Nigerian big man he would’ve brought police to the other servant’s house and given him some hot slaps and told them to arrest him!
Power of Forgiveness
We’re not necessarily ‘bad people’ but we’re bound to hurt one another, it’s just part and parcel of the human existence. Forgiveness is a powerful remedy for the poison of pain inflicted by others. It doesn’t mean that you ‘forget and move on’ that’s really hard. It doesn’t mean that you absolve the person of the offence either (Beyonce forgave Jay-Z for cheating but she still made a top selling album about him, even went further to do a visual album!). Forgiveness, instead, is choosing to compassionately release the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offence. Yes, FORGIVENESS ISSA CHOICE! A choice you’ve to actively make, though by our nature, sometimes it seems like the wrong choice. It is for this very reason that it is so important. Since we’re not perfect beings we need grace in our lives to make errors, God sees that and he forgives us so we should do so in similar fashion. An elephant in the room is that people are usually willing to forgive when they’re apologised to. Some people really confuse forgiveness with repentance, sure, they’re related but just like rice and beans or chicken and chips, they don’t always have to go together. Forgiveness has to do the offended and repentance has to do with the offender. Someone doesn’t have to repent for you to forgive them, forgiveness is more about you than others.
Why’s forgiveness hard?
According to Power of Positivity, the real issue is that while we may accept these statements on the surface, we often have trouble following through on the act of forgiveness (ourselves and/or others). Why? Because of our emotions. Because we rationalise things. After all, we’re not responsible for their actions but you’re responsible for your actions, thoughts and feelings. You’re responsible for softening the blow of the harm done to you. YOU’RE ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR FORGIVENESS! But even more important, you’re responsible for your happiness and peace of mind.
Our reactions to being wronged are different and the emotions emanating from these wrongs can be burnt into the psyche. The reason for the long-lasting effects of maltreatment is this: our brains are wired to create a memory in proportion to the emotional arousal of the situation and our brain is likely to remember things that are emotionally impactful e.g. PTSD. When experiencing negative emotions connected to the pain inflicted on you then it’s imperative to your mental health to resolve them. Resolution takes time, energy and emotional capital; but it’s ultimately beneficial. One way to reach resolution is through, you guessed it, forgiveness.
Why should you forgive?
On a peaceful summer evening of June 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were about to have their lives changed forever when a 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof walked in and subsequently massacred some members in a racist & terrorist attack which is now infamously called the Charleston church shooting. Apparently, the surviving members forgave him and invited him to church! This might seem crazy to you but they knew why that was the right thing for them to do. Forgiveness is necessary but you don’t have to go that far as wanting your offender within a 5 mile radius of you. The lesson here is that they forgave even under such extreme circumstances.
Personally, I don’t believe you have to like the person to forgive them or you have to like them after forgiving them. Sometimes when someone shows you their ugly side it’s better to pack your bags and go rather than trying to apply makeup to make that ugly side more appealing if you know what I mean. For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship it’s better to leave the person than to make excuses for their behaviour or going as far as blaming yourself for their actions against you. Forgiveness I believe is really and truly for you to be right with God “…forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” just to finish the unforgiving servant story because he didn’t forgive his fellow servant he was reported to his master and he faced dire consequences. the master in this story represents God. Forgiveness really and truly is actually for your benefit. A grudge can be a great burden and an emotional prison that can lead to negative results. When you forgive, you free yourself. In other words, forgiveness is true freedom and a grudge is an invisible cage disguised as ‘free space’.
HOW TO FORGIVE & LET GO (7 STEPS)
When we’ve been wronged by others it’s important to be equipped with the right tools to deal with this wrong before the effects affect us in a really negative way. Many roads lead to forgiveness, but here are a few good places to start:
1. Believe: Belief is a very important ingredient in many facets of life that involve moving forward. To start forgiving anyone, you must first believe that forgiveness is possible. You must at least welcome the idea that forgiveness can possibly resolve the issue(s). If you’re reluctant to forgive or even adamant about your unforgiveness then this road is even harder but it’s not impossible to drive on.
2. Step Away: As a child when I got wounded, as soon I was healing and some skin was getting back on trust me to peel it off only to delay my healing process. Some of us do this, you’re hurt but don’t move away from the source of that pain. I know sometimes it’s not exactly easy or even possible to step away but you should try even if it’s only a little while or perhaps longer. According toMelyssa Griffin, you should give yourself the freedom to not engage right away with someone who has hurt you. Again, the healing process is not something that happens overnight (even little wounds barely heal in a day) and sometimes the best way to prevent more pain is to remove yourself from a situation. When you fight with your partner or anyone else don’t you give yourself or ask for some space? Space can give you the needed time to decompress and gather your thoughts.
3. Focus on Self-Awareness: Do you really understand the grudge you’re holding? Some people have held on to some grudges for so long that they don’t exactly remember what their offender did or remember it in a very biased way. It’ll do you a lot of good if you understand the grudge you’re holding on to properly. Why does it hurt so much? What old wounds does it reopen? You may have a transfer of aggression because of this. According to Katherine Hurst from Law of Attraction, when you turn your insight inwards instead of analysing your offender, you’ll empower yourself with self-knowledge and this is good as you move forward on your road to forgiveness, it’s like having nitro boosts.
4. Put Yourself in their Shoes: We’ve all at one point annoyed, offended or hurt someone whether we meant to or not. As recent as yesterday I offended someone dear to me and I was in a light-hearted mood and didn’t mean to. Think back to when you hurt someone probably even really messed up, did you mean to? What was the response from the person you wronged? Do you wish they would’ve reacted differently? Naturally, when we’re hurt we tend to isolate the offence, forgetting we may have hurt the person in a similar or different way. This does not mean that there isn’t such a thing as a righteous anger, but sometimes it helps to put things in perspective by using our past experience to inform the present.
5. Own up: Maybe you’re nice so you don’t like confrontation, but you’re a pro at bottling your feelings. When you bottle your feelings too much you’ll harbour resentment and just like an active volcano your eruption is imminent! Bottling doesn’t really help and erupting may worsen things. Inspite all of the crazy ways you feel about your offender, it’s possible that there’s been a misunderstanding or they may not know the weight of your feelings and you’re just dying in silence. So, for your sake please tell your offenders with your chest that they’ve offended you. They may apologise or question you or they may react in a crazy and perhaps childish and unexpected way but at least you are opening a dialogue.
6. Accept Apologies: Sometimes we just want an apology before we forgive and sometimes it may be due to ego and it’s possible that sometimes your offender isn’t remorseful and certainly doesn’t wanna apologise. When someone is willing to apologise especially when they’re genuinely sorry and repentant please accept so you can forgive and start healing. Like I said before it doesn’t absolve them of the offence but at least you won’t bear any ill will toward them hopefully and they would’ve cleared their conscience.
7. Forgive Yourself: this is a very crucial step in letting go especially in greater offences such as a betrayal or cheating. You might’ve been hurting so bad asking yourself how did I let myself get played like this? Or how did I not see it coming? You may even have a cold and strong exterior like an iceberg due to this. The sooner you realise that it wasn’t your fault and the situation couldn’t be helped, the sooner you’ll be on the road to forgiveness and emotional healing.
There’s a whole lot more ways to forgive people but I’m not here to write an epistle and frankly I don’t have all the answers. So, Comment below some more tips on forgiveness or just let us know when you forgave someone.
QOTD: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” - Mahatma Gandhi.
Most of these books are more-or-less Christian books but they are still nice reads for non-Christians as well. Click their titles to check them out, please buy at least one and read if you’re harbouring unforgiveness in your heart.
Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything by Iyanla Vanzant
Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go by Adam Hamilton
Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All by Gerald G. Jampolsky
The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu & Mpho Tutu
Radical Forgiveness: A Revolutionary Five-Stage Process to Heal Relationships, Let Go of Anger and Blame, Find Peace in Any Situation by Colin Tipping
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!