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The long road to forgiveness

Many people find it difficult to forgive, partly because it is something that cannot be forced. It happens when the heart is truly willing to forgive. And of course, forgiveness is a long and challenging process that happens at a different pace for every person.

But, it’s also true that letting go is crucial to having healthy relationships and enjoying good health of mind and body. It is definitely worth the effort.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation

To forgive is not to reconcile, but you may choose to reconcile with the person you are forgiving if you are ready to do so. Forgiveness also does not mean excusing the other person’s wrongful actions or forgetting what happened. When we forgive, we don’t have to set justice aside.

When we allow the process of forgiveness to happen, what is important is understanding. This involves sitting in silence to see the situation from the other person’s POV. This involves putting ourselves in the shoes of the other so we may see their areas of pain or vulnerability, their human-ness. This is where mindfulness comes in.

Forgiveness and mindfulness

Several studies point to the fact that people who are more mindful have fewer negative thoughts and feelings when they think of past hurtful events or of people who have wronged them. They have also shown a greater tendency to forgive.

According to meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg, “Forgiveness demands presence, reminding us that we are not the same as the feelings we possess in a given situation, nor is the person who we’ve harmed or who has harmed us.” But take note that acknowledgment is important. Accept what happened and respect your feelings—it’s a crucial step in the process.

If we are working on forgiving someone—even ourselves—it is important that we create the space where forgiveness can take root. When we learn to loosen our grip on bitterness or grudges, we are actually doing ourselves a big favor.

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