“The attribute of the strong” is what Mahatma Gandhi called forgiveness. He said the weak cannot forgive.
Nelson Mandela said Forgiveness removes fear and liberates the soul. He called it A Powerful Weapon.
All religious texts stress on the importance of seeking forgiveness and granting one.
What is Forgiveness and why is it so important? Who gains from the act of forgiveness and why is it stressed upon in all religious texts and teachings? Let us find out.
We are social beings and we need people around us in order to live our life. We empower ourselves through our family and the communities that we are part of. Love for one another creates harmony in living.
Every relationship that we have, leads to expectations and some sort of transactions. Some of our expectations are met and others are not.
Some of our transactions are favorable to us and others are not. This entire process leads to emotions of happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, fear, etc in varying degrees. Depending on the emotions we feel at the end of a transaction with a person in our social circle, we either like that person or dislike that person.
People who make us feel extreme untoward emotions are the ones that we do not want to forgive. We hold a grievance against them and each time we think of that person, a feeling of dislike and such emotions engulf us.
However, we don’t realize that in the process of not forgiving and holding on to those ‘get even’ emotions, we are living that emotion over and over again and hurting ourselves even more.
Forgiveness or the art of forgiveness helps us to free ourselves from those ill thoughts. These disadvantageous forces, without our knowledge, eat us up. It is no one else, but us who is left wanting. The art of forgiveness frees us and makes space in our minds so that we can achieve our goals and purpose in life.
Forgiveness is not an easy task. The art of forgiveness needs commitment, practice, and a deep understanding of why we want to forgive others and ourselves. We have to understand that we forgive others in order to evolve and move on to a better and happier life.
The actual process of forgiveness is achieved either through the Art of Meditation or the Art of Faith.
Through meditation, we are able to find that light within. Through faith and surrender to the word of God, we are able to live a life that leads us away from thoughts and emotions that keep us caged.
Definition Of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is defined as an intentional and voluntary process by which a person who feels mistreated undergoes a change in his or her attitude and feelings regarding an infraction.
In this process, he or she overcomes emotions that are unwelcome. Forgiveness is however not about condoning, excusing, forgetting, pardoning, or reconciliation. These actions may or may not occur as an outcome of forgiveness.
It is noteworthy that the focus here is only on the individual feeling misused. It is hence clear that the person who has to act upon the feeling and the one who benefits out of it is the individual self.
Forgiveness is central to most religious beliefs and faith. God forgives his children and encourages them to forgive others in order to help them move on.
The feeling of repentance is however important. A person who does not forgive carries baggage full of memories of dissenting feelings, and of unresolved emotions that can affect their present as well as their future.
Forgiveness is considered an important virtue to be cultivated by everyone. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others is a part of the prayers and sermons in most religious practices around the world.
What Is Forgiveness?
We often think that by not forgiving a person who has caused us to hurt, we can chastise them. But the fact is that they are not affected at all by our act of not forgiving them. They lead their life unaffected by our thoughts or feelings for them. We cannot chasten a person for their actions by not forgiving them. It is a misconception that we have.
Another important aspect of forgiveness is that by forgiving a person we do not justify their actions and we do not imply that we are okay with what they did. The severity or fairness of their actions do not depend on our forgiving or not forgiving them. They are two disjoint events.
To forgive is also not to forget. The lessons learned from an experience, good or not, help us in evolving as a person. We can keep those lessons with us, and yet forgive the person who taught us that lesson.
We forgive the person not because we are weak or we cannot get back at them, we forgive that person because we care enough about ourselves and our well-being. Forgiveness is about keeping the lessons in mind and releasing the hurt.
Forgiveness is about being able to say that no matter what has happened to us in our life, at this moment we are at peace. Hence it is the creation of peace in the present. The creation of peace is our choice. We need the strength of mind and the wisdom to choose forgiveness over dissatisfaction because the former is the tougher choice to make and to sustain. It is the moments of joy that we enjoy is known as happiness.
Forgiveness is releasing a person who owes us, from the debt of paying it back to us. We release them in spite of the hurt that they have caused us because we don’t want that to anchor us to our past.
Why Is Forgiveness Important
Forgiveness is important because by freeing the space in our minds by forgiveness, we find the time and energy to move on. If we don’t leave disdain and hurt behind, we are left imprisoned for the rest of our lives.
Forgiveness is the secret of a long-lasting relationship. To ask for forgiveness and to forgive. The other person could be our parents, siblings, friends, spouse or partner, or children.
Forgiveness can help interpersonal relationships flourish. It helps the body physically relax and mentally heal. Psychologists have found out that there is a substantial correlation between reduced stress, better heart health, lowered anxiety, lower pain perception, and higher overall happiness, attributed to one’s ability to be a better forgiving person.
Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves, that no one else can give us. It is a gift because it makes us realize that our mind is not determined by external circumstances.
The intention to forgive is the most important part of the art of forgiveness. It is important to forgive so that we don’t lead the life of a person imprisoned in the role of a victim. A lot of times, by not forgiving, we give a thing of past undue importance, much more than they actually deserve.
Forgiveness increases our empathy for others. By not reducing a person to just the wrong that he or she has done and by being able to see that person as a child of God, we grow our spiritual quotient.
When we forgive others, we learn to forgive ourselves for things that we have done to ourselves. That is the most difficult type of forgiveness. We often beat ourselves up for making wrong decisions or for not doing the right things. For hurting someone or thinking things that we ought not to have thought.
The best way to forgive oneself is to know that what has been done cannot be undone and we can only make things right for now and for the future. For people of faith, the knowledge that God forgives everyone is the mantra to forgive oneself.
I Am Sorry
I Am Sorry is a very powerful mantra in any relationship. It is important to say “I am sorry”, and to mean it. It can be said when we know we have faltered and also when we know we haven’t.
- Saying sorry when we are wrong, means we are honest.
- Saying sorry when we are not sure, means we are wise.
- Saying sorry when we are right, means we value the relationship more than being right.
So don’t hesitate to say sorry. I Am Sorry can save relationships and build very strong bonds. Seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness are equally important in relationships.
- “I am sorry” may not alter the past, but it surely makes the future a lot improved.
- “I am sorry” may not change another person, but it definitely changes the person saying it.
- “I am sorry” may not solve all problems, but it definitely makes finding solutions to the problems, a priority.
Saying sorry is a sign of courage and accepting the apology and forgiving that person is a sign of true power.
True forgiveness is liberating. It heals our mind and our body. It cuts the chain of discord and discontent. It drops off a heavy burden that we carry around. It brings peace to us. It sets us free. By releasing such ill feelings, we forgive those who have wronged us. By doing so, we make room for grace and all things good.
Contributors: Kazim Abasali & Deepa Kadavakat