Forgiveness is freeing

“Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

I’m tired of paying the price for other people’s mistakes and bad behaviour.

We’ve all been hurt in big and small ways, intentionally or unintentionally. There’s no denying, horrible things happen.

This article in no way denies the scarring and damage life’s atrocities, big and small, have created for people. It’s about ending our own suffering.

I believe hurt people, hurt people. This doesn’t excuse them, but we don’t have to perpetuate the suffering in our own lives.

The bigger question is, how can we stop our own suffering and paying the price for the actions, or inactions, of another?

How do we free ourselves?

Over the next couple of weeks, I will explore forgiveness, and offer strategies to reduce our own suffering.

The place to begin is to get clear about what forgiveness is, and what it isn’t.

Forgiveness is not saying what happened is OK.

Forgiveness is not saying we must ever seek out or reconcile with the person who has harmed us. Others don’t even need to know about it.

It’s an internal process.

Forgiveness isn’t forgive and forget, it’s letting go of our own pain. Forgiveness liberates us from the shadow of another’s mistake and we take our power back.

If we had to wait until someone apologized or felt sorry for us to forgive, we might be waiting a long time. Sometimes, they aren’t sorry, they don’t even know the pain they’ve caused, or they’re dead. Waiting for another to feel sorry would only keep us trapped and locked into our own pain.

Forgiveness is a process. it’s not an event, and it can take time. It’s often done in layers.

We don’t over-ride or deny our own hurt and pretend we’re all happy-happy-joy-joy.

Bottling hurt feelings up doesn’t work, and puts added stress on our minds and bodies. This can make us sick.

Bottled up emotions often spill over into our lives in other ways. We can shut ourselves off from support, or avoid any situation or person who even smells like the one that hurt us. In this, we lose out on life.

Be nice to the right person. Yourself.

Many of us use a critical voice with ourselves. But when we’re hurt, it’s important to be kind with ourselves. Imagining we are our own best-friend is helpful. What would we tell someone we really loved who’s hurting? How would we be with them?

It’s important to acknowledge and feel emotions, and to pause to ask ourselves what we need. We may need to share and feel heard and supported. Writing about it, sharing with a caring friend or counselor may be helpful.

It is helpful to name the feelings that arise.

Naming the emotions helps to turn the volume down on the emotional centre of the brain and invite the rational part of the brain into action, according to a study conducted at UCLA.

We can gain perspective and realize we’re not alone. Many people are experiencing similar feelings.

When working with forgiveness, it’s best to start with smaller hurts, not the big things.

As best we can, stop having conversations with the offender within our own mind.

When we’ve been hurt, there’s often a tendency to go over and over what was said or done in our own minds, and rehearse what we’d love to say.

This sometimes happen to me in the wee-small-hours, just when I was supposed to be sleeping. Each time I do this to myself, I can feel a shot of stress chemicals in my body, I’m wide awake, and I suffer.

The adage of ‘holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent-free in our head’ applies here.

I often consider how much air-time I give to people who’ve hurt me, and I suffer. They’ve likely not given it a second thought. How much power do I want to give others in my life?

I used to be the great pretender, and try to fake it through. Now, I take the time I need with myself until I can gain some clarity about what happened. Deep, slow, belly-breaths are helpful.

I’ve found power and liberation in pausing, taking a few deep breaths, and turning toward my hurt feelings with self-compassion.  I name what I’m feeling, and don’t pretend nothing happened. Sometimes, I just silently whisper ‘ouch’ to myself.

Deepening our understanding about what forgiveness is and isn’t is just a starting point. Getting clear forgiveness is about ending my own suffering, and not about the other, was helpful for me.

In upcoming weeks, I will explore more concepts related to forgiveness. Stay tuned.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More New Thought articles

About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories