I have heard over the years lots of people say how important forgiveness is and I never ever really understood what they meant. I didn't know how to do it and I certainly had no appreciation of what it was. In fact forgiveness became a word I would end up squinting at sideways, with suspicion.
"Forgiveness became a word I would end up squinting at sideways, with suspicion"
I have heard religious people talk at length about forgiveness and therapists (yes I've had a few) talk about forgiving myself to the extent that it had become a sort of non-word for me. I kept hearing the word but no-one told me how to do it.
It was only in the last few years that I think I have started to understand what it is and how to do it.
Most of us carry around hurts and anger about things other people have done or said and embarrassment, shame or even horror at things we ourselves have done or said.
It wasn't until I realised that at any particular time, everyone is doing the best that they can, with the thoughts, emotions and beliefs that they have - at that moment. At any moment in time they make the decisions they make believing them to be the best response right then. Even if the outcome has dire consequences.
I was a police officer for 18 years and over that time met many many criminals and people who had done terrible things including murder. When I look back on the long line of people I dealt with, every single one of them (even the odd socio and psychopath) were doing what they believed was a reasonable response given the way they saw, felt and believed the world to be at that moment.
When I think back to the hurts I have carried, inflicted by loved ones and others and perpetrated myself...
When I think back to the hurts I have carried, inflicted by loved ones and others and perpetrated myself, they were each and every one, responses to how they (and I) saw the situation at that moment. They (and I) were doing the best they could in that moment with everything they felt, understood and believed.
Now that's not to say they (and I) couldn't do better. It is only after the fact that we may (or may not) reflect on what happened and hopefully learn.
This realisation has helped me to 'forgive', let go of things and find peace.
This understanding is also the basis of another thing I never understood. Be gentle with/on yourself. For me, now being gentle requires forgiveness which in turn requires understanding the nature of the way we often decide to do and say things.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~Mahatma Gandhi
The problem is if we don't forgive and let go, we become prisoners, locked in the cells of our own making - with only our hurt, anger or shame as cell mates.