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Embracing Forgiveness


At some point in our lives, we are all affected by betrayal or offense by another person. Regardless of who or what the source of our pain is, these transgressions can lead to a life of grudges and bitterness when left unresolved. Oftentimes, we may not even be aware of how lingering feelings of resentment are stealthily showing up in our consciousness, causing us to react to others and situations in ways that may be at best, unhelpful and at worst, harmful.

Depending on the circumstances, it may seem impossible to forgive someone for a pain or hurt they have caused. If you’re like most people, the idea of forgiveness probably makes you uncomfortable. Which makes sense because it is human nature to try to avoid being exploited and/or harmed by others. The fight or flight instinct kicks in causing us to either hit back or avoid situations and people entirely.

Maybe you were betrayed by someone you love and now all trust seems permanently destroyed. Perhaps someone offended you in some way and now you want nothing to do with them. Whether it was an important occasion that someone forgot about or something more extreme, such as a traumatic childhood experience, forgiveness may be the one way to set yourself free from the bondage of bitterness, resentment, and pain.

What does forgiveness really mean?

Psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness. The key phrases to notice in this definition: release feelings of resentment and regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness.

Naturally, when we are hurt by someone, it can be easy to grow resentful toward them. But by holding on to these resentments, they can begin to negatively invade our minds and bodies by disrupting our sleep, interfering with our ability to focus, and triggering various physical ailments. We can also begin to manifest unhealthy emotions that weigh us down and rear their ugly head in our relationships, work experiences, and more.

When we recently asked Yuri Cruzat, Founder & Managing Director of EPIC Inclusion Solutions, about some of the most impactful lessons she’s learned over the years that have determined how she leads in her personal and professional life, she shared that her greatest lesson has been learning to forgive. She explained that the ability to forgive has been the one skill that has helped her to create her true north in the midst of confusion.

Yuri Cruzat, Founder & Managing Director of EPIC Inclusion Solutions

In order to show up from a place of empowerment, Yuri shared, “We have to own our own past in terms of what our traumas have been, and ensure that we have created a filter of new possibilities. The only way those new possibilities can really be new, and not laced with hurt, harm, or shame from the past, is to say, ‘this is fresh.’ It’s empowering yourself to not get stuck in the anger, disappointment, and missed expectation.” To hear more from Yuri on this topic and more, you can listen to her She-Suite Podcast episode here.

4-Steps to Forgiveness

As we strive toward a life of peace and serenity, embracing forgiveness is key, even if the road to get there is long and windy. Although not an easy task, forgiveness is achievable for all who seek it.

Here are four steps to help you along your own journey toward forgiveness:

Step 1: Identify the source of your pain and acknowledge its presence in your life.

By clearly identifying the cause of your pain, you will be able to analyze its impact on your life. If possible, talk it out with a friend or family member to help you process the situation. Although it may be difficult, sitting with your emotions and allowing yourself to fully feel them can bolster a sense of healing. Don’t be tempted to isolate or withdraw to avoid dealing with the hurt. Whatever is not acknowledged and dealt with will only grow bigger and more destructive in your life.

Step 2: Understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

Each person has a different idea of what forgiveness means. The important thing is making an intentional decision to release yourself from anger and resentment. While the action that hurt or offended you will always exist, by choosing to forgive, you are breaking free from its grip on your life. Occasionally, the act of forgiveness may even lead to feelings of empathy, compassion, and understanding for the offender.

To be clear, forgiveness does not mean you are excusing or forgetting the harm or offense. It also doesn’t mean that you need to restore a relationship with the person who hurt you, unless you decide it’s right for you.

Step 3: Begin your healing journey.

Once you’ve identified the source of your pain or hurt, it’s time to decide how you will move forward. You can begin the healing process in many ways, including talking to a professional, such as a life coach or therapist, committing to healthy practices such as journaling, and spending time in daily meditation as you rehearse positive affirmations. With time, patience, and practice, you will achieve the healing you desire.

Step 4: Resolve to embrace forgiveness for your own well-being.

Choosing forgiveness can be the best way to improve your health and peace of mind. By letting go of grudges and bitterness, you are making space for wellness from within.

Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower blood pressure
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Stronger self-esteem

As you grow a vision for what your life could look like, when it is free from the weight of past hurts and pains, you will move forward with the confidence of knowing that ultimately, you are the key to making that a reality.

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