Forgiveness: The Ultimate Symbol of Strength
Those of us in recovery who have spent some time among the twelve-step community know that resentments can wield a terrible power. Fortunately, we have a weapon and symbolic weapon against resentments: forgiveness. Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat. Forgiveness is about taking power back and making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger.
The Power of Resentments
Some people are not ready to forgive and rightly so. What about victims of sexual assault and violence as well as people who have suffered physical, emotional abuse and unearned shame? Is it not appropriate to feel rage due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us?
However, our suffering has the power to consume us. Suffering and resentments can control our entire worldview and biases. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us, we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves and in turn increase our own self-loathing.
We can even convince ourselves we deserve it. Even worse, we can act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world. However, forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us.
Forgiveness: A Symbol for Personal Growth
Forgiveness is not about forgetting or even making a statement that what happened to create resentment is acceptable. It is about making a personal statement that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories and perception of self that resentments create.
It is our philosophy that there are many ways to forgive. However, the least helpful way is giving the terrible advice of “Just let this go.” Well, how? How do people “let go?” How do people forgive?
How Do We Forgive?
For some it is a mere acknowledging that the incident(s) occurred, facing the emotions that arise and stating forgiveness. Others need rituals or prayer to assist in maintaining the intention of forgiveness.
Unfortunately, though, forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon. Our resentments can creep back in, even after we have made the conscious decision to forgive. In this case, one needs to repeat the action of forgiveness. We take a little more power back until the resentment has eventually been drained and the individual is free from that resentment.
It is our job to help foster forgiveness. However, it is not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready. Those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding.
Perhaps they need to acknowledge lessons to be learned from the experience before they become willing and ready to forgive. Even if that lesson is to realize how much damage and influence these resentments have had in our lives. Only then can we pose the question “Are you ready to let this go?”
Using Symbols to Learn Forgiveness in Orange County, CA
Barn Life Recovery helps people learn the value of forgiveness and deal with any internal struggles they are facing through our holsitic mental health services. Discover what it means to be a part of our community by attending one of our upcoming events.