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Moment Of Clarity

Learn to Forgive in 2015

What is forgiveness and what does it mean to forgive? The concept of forgiveness is timeless and has been around for thousands of years.

Forgiveness is a form of love and at the core of religious, spiritual, and clinical healing.

Forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate process that helps people heal from and let go of feelings like anger, grief, and sadness. It is when people truly forgive someone (or a group), they are free to move on to live a life full of love and joy.

Unfortunately, people often make the mistake of thinking that forgiveness means “What you did to me was OK.” That’s untrue.

Forgiveness does not mean that what someone did to you was OK. It means that you will no longer carry the pain of their actions anymore. You give it back to them to carry.

Forgiveness is easier said than done and is one of the most difficult things that anyone can do, especially the first few times. The pain of betrayal or loss can be so intense that the notion of choosing to love the person who caused or inflicted the pain goes against every natural instinct to want to hurt them back.

Forgiveness is a choice.

Forgiveness is not something that naturally occurs; which is why it is a conscious and deliberate process that a person chooses to engage. The fact that forgiveness is a choice also explains why it is so powerful and transforming.

When we choose to forgive, we choose to let go of anger, despair, and all of the other negative emotions that weigh us down. And, when we let go of all of the things that weigh us down, we have room to embrace the lighter, happier emotions such as love, joy, and peace.

A patient once asked me why she was having such a hard time forgiving someone even though she was making a conscious effort and working very hard to do so.

My reply: You haven’t forgiven yourself, yet.

Before we can love anyone else, we have to love ourselves. Before you can forgive anyone, we have to forgive yourself.

Look, when someone hurts you, it is very natural for you to feel anger, even hatred toward him or her. It doesn’t make you a bad person – it makes you human.

So, forgive yourself for hating someone and for having the thoughts you have. Forgive yourself for being human.

Let yourself cry and feel all of the emotions that are present. While some people may want to avoid the negative emotions, embracing them actually helps with letting go so you can forgive.

While there isn’t an absolute process to forgiveness, there are some things that you can do to help yourself move closer to forgiving someone.

1)   Mantras. “Even though I am angry with (or, even hate) you, I deeply and completely accept/forgive myself.”

2)   Write down what you are thinking and feeling. This will help you get some of it out so you can let go of the pain.

3)   Talk with a clinician. A seasoned therapist can really help you accept your feelings and move on with your life in a healthier and more grounded way.

When we don’t forgive others, or ourselves we create our own prison of resentment and only we hold the key. Holding on to anger is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. You’re the only one who suffers.

 

Here, is one of my favorite (amended) short stories:

There was once a little boy who had gotten into an argument with his best friend. He stormed into the house angry and yelling. His grandfather stopped and asked why he was so upset and the little boy replied, “I am not his friend anymore! He broke my favorite toy and didn’t say he was sorry. I HATE HIM!”

The grandfather looked and said, “Ahhh … yes. I know of the hate you feel as I, too, have hated people that much. It is a fight that goes on inside of me.” The little boy looked at his grandfather with big eyes as tears rolled down his face, “You have?” “Yes”, said his grandfather. “What did you do?” Asked the little boy.

“Well, you see, inside of everyone are two wolves. One wolf is love and the other is anger. The loving wolf is full of joy, forgiveness, and abundance; but the angry wolf, oh my! He is full of hate, resentment and pain.”

The little boy paused for a moment, “Grandfather, if these two wolves fight inside of you, which one wins?

The grandfather replied, “The one that I feed.”

I hope this was helpful and wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year. With love and light.

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at digitalpitches@ebony.com. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential. 

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90 percent success rate with her clients.  Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!