Forgiveness is often discussed in recovery and it’s even been known to boost mental health, inspire hope, and foster self-esteem. Clients are frequently told that they ‘should’ forgive a friend or family member or even themselves. However, at the same time, tangible tactics on how to forgive are often left out of the conversation.
Let’s unpack this. According to researchers, forgiveness starts with an honest look directly into the nature of the offense and the objective and subjective harms caused by it. There’s also the need to process and work through emotions like pain, shame, guilt, anger, etc., to gain a true understanding of how the action impacted one’s life. Oftentimes it’s necessary to reflect on how not forgiving may negatively impact one’s life.
After taking inventory of the nature and impact of the offense the work can get harder and even more painful. It calls for committing to forgo well-deserved resentment and/or revenge. Genuine forgiveness does not expect anything in return, even if merited.
Once one decides to forgive, the next step is to gain an understanding of the offender that results in a change of attitude towards the offender. What were the circumstances that framed their actions? For instance, were they self-medicating to suppress memories of being molested?
Once you’re able to do this and experience different thoughts about and feelings toward the offender, forgiveness is the next step. Actions that result in forgiveness tend to include offerings of mercy, love, and generosity even though such gestures are not deserved. Action is essential to forgiveness. For instance, allowing a loved one to move back home might be just the act of mercy and generosity that helps her turn things around – but not always! Love and mercy can be demonstrated through a simple act of kindness like a hug.
Lastly, forgiveness is fully realized when we find meaning in the injustice or injury we suffered. There might be some truth in the fact that forgiving others helps us recognize and own our mistakes. You could say forgiving someone helps us improve other relationships and our general outlook on life. One of the many beautiful things about forgiveness is that it feels rewarding and there’s nothing like getting a good win under the belt to motivate and manifest more blessings in your life.
In short, on some level forgiveness is necessary to live a happier and fuller life. We need not only make peace with others but ourselves. Our programs can help you dive deeper into this work while you’re in recovery. Learn more on our website: https://deerhollowrecovery.com/