Forgiveness Opens Your Heart
Forgiveness opens your heart to release resentment, animosity, or guilt associated with the past. It’s really about accepting your humanity and the humanity of others.
Freeing yourself from resentment and animosity toward others may be accomplished through forgiveness. There are many interpretations of what it is to forgive another.
My aha moment came when I read Doreen Virtue’s Forgiveness card. I realized that forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did is okay, it simply means I’m no longer willing to hold onto any negative feelings in response to what happened—I don’t have to forgive the action, just the person to be at peace.
In the PragerU.com video on forgiveness, Stephen Marmar explains that forgiveness is a very complex concept. He reviews three types of forgiveness: exoneration, forbearance, and release.
• Exoneration is when a person is truly sorry for hurting you and takes full responsibility (without excuses) for what they did, as well as assures you that they will not do it again—it wipes the slate entirely clean and restores the relationship.
• Forbearance is when an offender makes an inauthentic apology, or blames you somehow for causing them to behave badly. It leaves you with a degree of watchfulness yet cautiously optimistic, like forgive but not forget or trust but verify, and allows you to preserve relationships with people who, while far from perfect, are still important to you.
• Release is critically important for your well-being: it allows you to let go of what’s weighing you down and eating away at your chance for happiness. It does not require that you continue the relationship, but like Doreen Virtue’s concept, it asks that you let go of your bad feelings and preoccupation with the negative things that have happened to you.
Stephen Marmar concludes with, “To forgive may be divine, but when we understand its dimensions, we find that it is within our ability to do it.”
If you need an apology to forgive someone you’re unable to locate, or who is deceased, write a letter from them to you and mail it to yourself. When you read it a few days later, imagine it’s coming from the other person, allow yourself to receive the apology, and forgive them.
Forgiveness Specific to Child Abuse
Child abuse is one of the most difficult experiences to resolve, release, and heal. Some people assume the guilt and try, for many years, to forgive their abuser(s) without success, while others are determined not to forgive and are left living with the ongoing shame, pain, and hate without relief.
According to Bert Hellinger’s philosophy of forgiveness—relative to children who have been psychologically, physically, or sexually abused—if a child forgives the abuser, in addition to the abuse the child suffered, the child will assume the guilt and responsibility for the abuser’s behavior. Therefore, he insists that the child must not forgive the abuser. Based on Hellinger’s philosophy, Magui Block’s book, Healing the Family, presents a process through which abused children can heal themselves from the pain they’ve endured by giving the guilt and responsibility for the abusive behavior back to the abuser.
Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 2 in my Amazon #1 best-selling book, What Would Love Do Right Now? A Guide to Living an Extraordinary Life.
Victoria Benoit, M.C.
Healer, Speaker, Bestselling Author