The Mindful Path – Forgiveness

 12/05/2020 | 01:40 PM 

By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, MSW ~

“Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.”   Hannah Avendt, Scholar and Author

Cultivating forgiveness is a gift, an investment toward your personal happiness, wellness, contentment, and longevity.  It allows better control of your emotional health and allows a path toward a more peaceful, healthier life.

The collateral damage of hurt and harm may include anger, denial, bitterness, depression, resentment and thoughts of revenge.  To break free from the vortex of negative thoughts, many find the courage to explore the extraordinary benefits of forgiveness.

Is forgiveness for every person and every situation? The answer is personal.  Forgiveness is a choice and an action. It can be a powerful tool of emotional regulation and inner peace.  The practice of forgiving begins by setting our intention on the exploration of what has occurred. According to the Forgiveness Project, forgiveness can offer a better sense of control, a way to transform pain so events do not define you, provide meaning to loss, to use personal suffering to understand society’s larger injustices, or to resolve conflict that leads to personal growth. 

Forgiveness of yourself: Reflect on how your thoughts and actions harm yourself. The first tasks is to identify habits, patterns and reoccurring thoughts that do not serve our inner well-being or healing. It may provide comfort to remember, you forgive yourself so that you can more freely forgive others. You may find it helpful to reflect on, “For the self-harm I have caused by thought, word or action, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive myself.” 

Forgiveness of others: Reflect on how you may have harmed others by unbridled anger, neglect, impatience, fear or abandonment. Contemplating the harm you cause yourself or others requires a deep sense of responsibility. You can hold those tender, sad moments in our thoughts and reflect on, “For the hurt I have caused others by thought, word or action, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask forgiveness. Please forgive me.”

Forgiveness is not condoning abuse, betrayal, hatred, and trauma caused by others. Personal and emotional safety is paramount to your well-being. Only when you find yourself in a safe space free from danger can you contemplate the freedom that forgiveness may offer in your life. As described by Thordis Elva, author and activist, “I deserve peace.”

Forgiveness of those who have hurt and harmed you: To the extent that you are safe, able and willing, reflect on how others have caused you pain, grief and suffering. Feel that you are coming from a place of strength and intention. Choose one experience or person you want to begin to forgive. Begin to release the sorrow of this situation. As you are ready, reflect on, “For the harm you have caused me by word or action, knowingly or unknowingly, I begin the process of forgiveness.”

May the coming days offer you reflection, renewal and hope. Choose to explore forgiveness as a tool to reclaim vitality and wellness. There are many resources available for a deeper exploration of forgiveness including books, Podcast presentations and websites including
Be open to the gift of forgiveness.  

Marilyn Halpern is a medical power of attorney, care manager and professional guardian in the Denver Metro area.  For more information 

Photo credit: Dick Vogel

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