The Power of Forgiveness
When our heart is hurt, we protect it from whoever we think has done us wrong. We blame the other person for the pain, and often forget the part we ourselves may have played in causing this pain. We create a barricade that closes ourselves off so that we do not run the risk of being hurt again.
By Serna Widdershoven

Forgiveness is an important step in the process of healing. Forgiveness is essentially letting go of your own disappointed expectations from the past – either about yourself or someone else. Forgiveness is separate and different from approving or condemning someone’s behavior. In forgiveness, we turn inward and we look differently at our own interpretations of the situation. Through this process we are able to free ourselves from our own negative emotions.

You forgive for yourself, not for the other person. Forgiveness is an act of love for yourself that only you can give to yourself. No one else can do this for you. So you forgive out of self-interest. That your liberation may also help the other person (or people) to free themselves from the past is a nice side effect, but it’s not the reason for entering into a forgiveness process.

With forgiveness, you start to view situations with compassion, which gives you a better understanding of the forces that affect both ourselves and others.

Forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself. That’s not to say we should just condone everything we might have done carelessly. Instead we look with compassion at ourselves, at the cravings of our soul and what it was trying to achieve, at the obstacles that were in our way and at the forces that were acting upon us and our journey at the time. This allows us to understand why we did the things we did. Only then can we detach ourselves, our own essence, from the mistakes we made.

Forgiveness is an inner cleaning process. You cleanse yourself from old pain, so that you can have better life energy for yourself. Forgiveness starts with the decision to feel energized, happy, and peaceful again. It is choosing acceptance, inner peace, strength and liberation. Not forgiving costs us a lot of energy that we use to suppress negative emotions. In your inner world you retain elements of hatred, resentment and pain as well as the condemnation that blocks the process of forgiveness. All of this happens only within yourself and, as such, has nothing to do with the other person.

The other person and their actions may be the reason to begin the forgiveness process. However, the process will make you aware of your own feelings and judgments because it is your response to the situation and the other person’s actions that cause you to be upset – not the situation or actions themselves, however serious. It is only when we process our feelings about a particular situation, and regain the pieces of ourselves that we lost, that we can move forward through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is therefore an inner process for which we do not need the other person. This does not mean that direct contact with the other person (the ‘perpetrator’) cannot lead to mutual liberation. The other person’s words could speed up your (self) forgiveness process.

Forgiveness remains an organic process. This process cannot be forced, although we may start it by asking ourselves some questions: What forces were acting on the other person at the time? What was the other person trying to achieve and what motivations were behind this? What did the other person need at the time but didn’t receive, and is it possible that this was the reason for the other person not reacting differently? If the other person had had greater consciousness about the situation, what would have been their intentions and how might this have changed their actions? 

Another important part of this investigation is the question regarding your own inner strength and what you need so that you can move forward. After all, forgiveness is not primarily about restoring the relationship with the other person, but about regaining your own inner peace. You don’t forgive to change the other person. As long as you still want to change them, you have not forgiven yet and you remain caught up in your own stories, expectations and judgments. It is only after we have forgiven, when we regain our clarity and openness, that we might begin to feel that connecting with that other person would be okay.

Forgiveness softens the hardness of the heart and thus allows the heart to open up again. It allows us to have greater awareness arising from situations that have gone wrong. It allows us to release our negative energy from the past and channel our energy towards a positive future. That is the power of forgiveness.

Are you interested in discovering how the power of forgiveness can help you? Please do not hesitate to contact me.