I’ve been thinking lately about forgiveness in different contexts; both the power it takes to truly forgive someone and the energy that is wasted when holding onto anger or hurt and not forgiving someone. As irony would have it, I was flipping through the channels recently and came across a documentary called “The Power of Forgiveness.”
A few ideas really stood out from the piece that I want to share. The first, is an educational component that schools are using with their kindergarten aged children in Ireland. For example, Kelly shares with the class that her sister pushed her the night before during Forgiveness time. The teacher hands Kelly a pair of sunglasses and asks her to name one positive trait that her sister possesses. The idea, is to show Kelly, and the other children who are listening, that the anger they have towards the person is caused by an action, rather than being angry at who the person is at their core. In essence, it allows the child to see the event through different eyes, by way of a pair of inexpensive sunglasses.
The second piece was the flowchart pattern sequence of how one forgives. Our memory controls us, as we only know what we know through experiences of the past. When we relive these moments over and over in our mind, we allow these experiences to live on in our minds and inflict emotional pain over and over again. In this sense, there is no forgiveness, but emotionally flogging for something that is perhaps out of our control, if we have been hurt by another person. Anger turns to sadness which eventually turns into forgiveness. I’m not telling you to forget about the event (forgetting does not equal forgiveness and forgiveness does not mean forgetting), but letting go of the pain associated with the event, now that is forgiveness. Personally, the hardest part in the forgiveness sequence is that there is no timeline. For example, not unlike a doctor giving a prognosis, I want someone to say to me “You’re going to have some anger for a week, followed by sadness for 4 days, but then you will forgive.” Wishful thinking.
One thing I know holds true is that one can’t put conditions on forgiveness. You either forgive or you don’t. It’s not a barter and trade system where one can say to the person “if you do this, than I’ll forgive you.” Having compassion in your heart allows you to forgive, and forgiving another alleviates the other person of their guilt.
As humans, we all want the same things: safety and happiness, but we have the element of human error that factors into living life. Everyone has adversities and speed bumps in life, but it’s what one does with those that define one’s character. When it’s all said and done, nothing good comes from holding onto anger. However, having compassion in your heart and kindness in your actions brings a quiet mind, puts a smile on your face and brings peace to your soul.