For those of us who have suffered trauma, the idea of forgiveness can be a struggle, and that may be because we’re looking to others for the answers. Forgiveness holds a lot of power in our healing, and can provide us with many benefits: breaking the cycle of violence or abuse, freeing us from anger, etc.
Forgiveness can be difficult for many reasons: we haven’t let go of our anger, we want to harm those who’ve harmed us, or simply the notion that forgiving will free our offenders from justice. When battling with being able to forgive, it’s important to note that forgiving does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean justifying the actions of your offender.
“Remember, real forgiveness does not make excuses for the other person’s hurtful behaviour. Forgiveness is a decision that you make with your whole self after you have done your emotional work.” — Kim Barthel, from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’
So, how does forgiveness benefit us?
- Forgiveness breaks the cycle of violence.
- In order to forgive, we possess compassion, which is an important part of the healing process and life change.
- Forgiveness frees us from holding onto anger.
But first, we need to understand that forgiveness starts with one person, ourselves.
“Forgiveness is an inside job. Finding your spirituality helps move you towards forgiveness and compassion.” — Kim Barthel
Although we can oftentimes be hardest on ourselves, it’s important to start within. Here’s some ways to help you forgive yourself:
- Remember that you did everything you could do at the time.
- The past is the past, let it live there. Period.
- Move forward.
- Practice self-love.
“It’s only when we are ready to forgive ourselves that we can explore forgiving others.” — Theo Fleury
Forgiveness is a topic that Kim and Theo discuss in detail in their book, ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’, and provide some more tools for inviting this kind of healing capability into your life. If you’re interested in being part of a conversation about healing, forgiveness and mental health, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can find out more about ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’ on our website.
— Written by Amber Craig