Letting Go of Resentments, Pain, and Anger
Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat. Forgiveness is about taking power back. Making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger. 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 or become victimized due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us?
The Perils of Resentment
We can let suffering consume us. Suffering and resentments can control our whole worldview including our biases and attitude. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us, we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves. This can, in turn, increase our own self-loathing and even convince us we deserve it. Additionally, we act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world.
Making a Personal Decision
Forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Nor is it about believing that what happened to create our resentments is acceptable. It is about making a personal decision that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories, and perception of self that resentments manifest.
How Do We Forgive?
Some of us are ready to forgive. There are many ways to forgive and the least of all is giving the incomplete advice of “Just let this go.” Well, how? How do people “let go”? How do people 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. Forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon. Furthermore, 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. 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. More importantly, to help our clients answer the question of how to forgive. It is also not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready as those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding or 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, and then we can pose the question “Are you ready to let this go?”