I saw this article and I know my daughter, Lori, had a hard time forgiving herself, and maybe people around her. I hope it helps others to look at holding their moments of hurt and not speaking to someone who may have caused it. Forgiving and putting it in God’s hands, can be a great release from stress.
10 Life-Changing Facts About Forgiveness
“Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”
I’m a big fan of forgiveness, but I understand it’s not for everyone. In my personal experience, letting go of a grudge against my parents simplified my life tremendously and paved the way for our relationship to be much more loving.
I never got an apology, and we never had “the talk” I thought I needed. I just knew that I was finished being angry and resentful, and I wanted to feel more peaceful inside.
I can see now that this grudge was a huge energy vampire for many years, and now I don’t even think about what happened. It no longer occupies my mental and emotional real estate, which is why things feel simpler.
If you are struggling with forgiveness and finding it difficult, then this post is for you. It’s a list of 10 life-changing facts about forgiveness. Absorb these 10 facts, contemplate them, and experiment with putting them into action in your own heart and mind.
Be patient, because forgiveness is a process, but stay committed to the peace you long for.
1. Forgiveness is life-changing.
Just like me, maybe you’ve been holding onto a grudge for a long time. If so, you know how it seeps into your thoughts and dominates your emotions. The grudge sits in you like a big, heavy lump of steel that refuses to move.
But start to get serious about forgiveness and make peace your priority, and your life will change. You’ll be more free, more open, and more available to enjoy yourself.
2. Forgiveness is about you, not about anyone else.
Forgiveness is a process that opens your heart and gives you peace of mind. If you are stuck in hate and bitterness, you are the one suffering.
The letting go that constitutes forgiveness untangles the knot in you so you feel happier, lighter, and more present. You’re no longer living in distressing stories and painful emotions.
In a flash of insight, I realized how much the anger I carried was affecting my daily life. That was enough for me to commit to letting it go and being peaceful. That was it—I just wanted to feel better. That it changed my relationships for the better was a happy side effect.
3. Forgiving doesn’t mean you approve of bad behavior.
There’s no doubt about it: people do nasty things, and what happens in life is not always fair.
But what does not forgiving do? It doesn’t get you resolution, and it doesn’t change what happened.
Forgiving doesn’t mean you let that other person off the hook. It means you’re letting yourself off the hook. If people have wronged you, they need to walk their own path about what they did.
Your path is your business. You can’t control what happened or other people’s behavior, but you can control how you meet your own experience.
If you persist in focusing on the terrible things someone did to you, even though the actual behavior stopped long ago, you are still hurting yourself in your mind. If you commit to letting it go and focusing on the joys and gifts present right now, you are well on your way to healing your heart.
4. If you’re having trouble forgiving, you still hold the belief that what happened shouldn’t have happened.
This is resistance, and will paralyze you. If you fight the facts, you’ll never win because it’s too late. What happened already happened.
Instead, take a deep breath, and accept the facts. Realize how painful it’s been for you. Let the sadness, grief, and anger come. And when you’re ready, step away from the pain refreshed and ready to live again.
5. You’re hurting yourself more than anyone else.
You’re holding a grudge when you feel locked into a story of what happened and you feed that story with your attention. Every definition of “grudge” that I found talks about “ill will and resentment.”
When you resist forgiving, you’re solidifying your experience of ill will and resentment.
6. You don’t need an apology.
If you can have a heartfelt conversation with whomever you feel wronged you, then go for it. But often that isn’t in the cards. The person may be unable to hear you, unavailable, or deceased. And you are likely to find that the apology isn’t that satisfying anyway.
Forgiveness is an inner letting go. In the state of not forgiving, you’re plying the hurtful story with your attention so it stays feeling very real for you. When you forgive, you stop thinking about the story, and you welcome your feelings in your own space of awareness.
And this is what you can do in your own quiet moments.
7. Forgiving supports the health of your body.
Are you still questioning the mind-body connection? Then consider this. Research has shown that forgiveness reduces stress, decreases blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate, and improves sleep and immune system functioning. It also reduces anxiety, depression, and anger, and promotes a sense of well being.
The flip side is that not forgiving does a number on your body due to chronic anger and stress.
8. You’ll probably need to express your feelings.
When we’re caught up in our anger and resentment, we’re actually avoiding the intensity of our feelings. Let yourself feel whatever you feel—anger, rage, sadness. Express these feelings with a therapist, trusted friend, in a letter you don’t send, or in front of an empty chair.
Then take a breath and breathe with the sensations you feel. Let these sensations rise up and pass on. You’re being present with your experience in a deeply loving way.
9. You may not need what you think you need.
By now, you probably have some very distinct ideas about what you need in order for you to forgive. But consider other possibilities as well. And here are two for you to experiment with.
Try giving yourself what you think you need from someone else. If you think you need love, give yourself love. If you think you need understanding, spend some time in deep compassion and understanding with yourself. If you think you need an apology, imagine getting it and feel the effects in your body, mind, and heart.
Then see if you can give out to others what you think you need. Can you open to others with love, acceptance, and understanding? Is there anyone you feel moved to apologize to? How can you be kinder?
10. It’s empowering to forgive.
Not forgiving keeps you squarely locked into the victim mentality. You feel that something was done to you, and you put the possibility of healing into someone else’s hands.
When you make the decision to embark on the path of forgiveness, you’re reclaiming your power. You’re taking responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings, and helping your own sense of peace to flourish.
A Note About Forgiving Yourself
These 10 facts also apply to forgiving yourself. There’s so much suffering when you’re locked into a story about something you shouldn’t have done, but you don’t need me to tell you that.
The most important thing is that you learn from the experience. Make amends, vow to yourself and others that you’ll be more aware of your choices, then go ahead and consider letting go. It’s okay to let yourself be at peace.
Then consider an idea I love—living amends. When regretful things happen, take care of them. Don’t let them fester; don’t live in shame without apologizing and making it right as soon as possible. Don’t keep yourself in situations where you’re treated poorly.
If you find yourself stuck and ruminating about something that happened, deal with it so it no longer hijacks your peace and happiness.
What About You?
Have you had difficulty forgiving? What have you learned about forgiveness? I’d love to hear… And if you’re reading by email, please click here to visit GailBrenner.com and to comment.
“Change it, leave it, or accept it.”
“If I’m feeling stuck in life, then I can be certain it’s because I’m afraid of something, and I just haven’t faced it yet.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, writer
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I grew up with three brothers, Bill, Joe, and my twin brother, Albert, along with a sister, Leona, who is the oldest. We had a brother, Walter, who we called Butch, but he died of polio at seven years old, and at the time, I was only two so I didn’t have the blessing of knowing him, only through pictures. My parents took his death hard.
My childhood had been full of good memories. Having a twin brother, his buddies and my girlfriends, we would always group together to have fun with activities like: baseball, sledding, skating, bike riding, and walked numerous times to the ice-cream store. As teenagers with a car license, we rode to the city, where owners parked their cars along the streets for show, and had them shinning brighter than the sun. Guys carried their cigarettes rolled-up in their tee-shirt sleeves, wore loafers, and we played the great sixties music until they wore out. When Elvis got married, he broke my heart!
I loved school for the social time looking for fun and making the kids laugh during study periods. As for the classes, I went because it was something we had to do and graduate. I look back now and realize how important and special those days were to all of us.
Our father, Albert L. Gramm, had been a retired Brigadier General in the Army. He fought in WWII as one of the commanding officers of the 26th Yankee Division and fought in some famous battles like Metz, Lorraine and The Battle of the Bulge. He died in 1990 at eighty years old in South Dennis, down Cape Cod, from cancer and I let the wonderful military history of this great man, pass with him.
**Wrote about my life with him in A Spiritual Renewal (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alberta+sequeira)
Our mom, Sophie Gramm, had been a stay-at-home mom and greeted us each and every day coming home from school. Suppertime was “Family Time”, not as it is today. We laughed, talked about our school classes and friends and got to know each other. My mother died in 2007 at ninety-two years of age from a stroke, two months after my daughter, Lori’s, death.
I met my first husband, Richard Lopes from North Dighton, MA, and we had two beautiful daughters, Debbie and Lori, four years apart. My dreams of a happy marriage ended after fourteen years of being an enabler…way too long..to Richie with his drinking. We divorced and he died in 1985 at forty-five years old from alcoholism.
**Wrote about our young years and the life of an alcoholic family behind closed doors in Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alberta+sequeira
Years after losing Richie, I met and married, Al Sequeira, from Rochester, Massachusetts. I sold my home and moved with him. I loved the large farm house with a porch that encircled the whole front with ten acres. He had four grown children and we became very close as a family and we do not call our kids- stepchildren. They are all our sons and daughters. We have since moved to North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Al and I own a Time Share to make us go on vacation. We have gone to many places in the USA, but our thrill was going to Italy and Portugal in 2011. It had been like going back in time with the everyday living. We met Al’s relatives for the first time in a tiny village with only 12 families. It was wonderful. Family still had goats to walk up to the mountains, took care of beehives to make the honey, sheep, goats, fruit trees in all backyards to just pull them off and eat fresh. Vegetable, like potatoes, are all grown in the ground. I never saw a can of food anywhere. The old churches were kept and were breathtaking. Everyone looked healthy in their older years. I can’t imagine them living under stress like we do back home.
I became a four-time award winning author and speaker on alcohol and drug abuse. I teach three-hour workshops on “Bring Your Manuscript to Publication”, “How to Self-Publish Your Own Book with Create Space,” and “Writing Memoirs.” I published them in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.
I am also a director, producer and co-host to the New Bedford 95 Cable TV station. I also became a co-founder to Authors Without Borders with three other authors (www.awb6.com).
My enjoyment is now spent on writing my first fictional book The Rusty Years. I want my followers to see a lighter side of me after writing about so much pain and loss.
My books are in paperback and Kindle at http://amazon.com/author/albertasequeira
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Here I am with my books mounting. Shocking from someone who never had the desire to write a book. I had no classes on writing but wrote from the heart on my experiences with losing loved ones.
I am available to talk at court-ordered programs, halfway homes, substance rehabilitation centers, and to the public. Contact me at email@example.com.
My books are in paperback and Kindle at http://amazon.com/author/albertasequeira
You are never alone with your struggles with addiction with God beside you!
All thoughts, meditations and prayers for the day, come from the 1975 edition of Twenty-Four Hours a Day published by Hazelden Publishing. It is a small booklet written for AA members.
“The Serenity Prayer”
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thought for the Day
We have an allergy to alcohol. The action of alcohol on chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy. We allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all. We cannot be reconciled to a life without alcohol, unless we can experience an entire psychic change. Once this psychic change has occurred, we who seemed doomed, we who had so many problems that we despaired of ever solving them, find ourselves able to control our desire for alcohol.” Have I had a psychic change?
Meditation for the Day
Ask God in daily prayer to give you the strength to change. When you ask God to change you, you must at the same time fully trust Him. If you do not fully trust Him, God may answer your prayer as a rescuer does that of a drowning person who is putting up too much of a struggle. The rescuer must first render the person still more helpless, until he or she is wholly at the rescuer’s mercy. Just so must we be wholly at God’s mercy before we can be rescued.
Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may be daily willing to be changed. I pray that I may put myself wholly at the mercy of God.