Forgiveness is an act that is said to empower a person to break free from the mindset of being a victim. By forgiving, they say, you let go of the past and move on. However, in my experience, I’ve found that even when someone thinks they’ve forgiven someone, a day, a month or a year later, they are often still harboring anger. They might think they’ve moved on, but the only thing that’s moved on is time.
I was taught to “forgive and forget.” This never worked for me, as resentment and bitterness remained no matter how hard I tried to let it go. Growing up in both Western and Eastern cultures, I was immersed in multiple religions simultaneously. Though these teachings provided an underlying basis for the practice of forgiveness, I was never able to honestly “forgive” those I felt had wronged me.
In order to forgive someone, you must first judge something they did as “bad” or wrong. By sitting in judgment of their actions, we lose sight of the bigger picture. I have come to understand that all our experiences, even hurtful ones, benefit us, but we need to change our focus in order to embrace this.
Instead of focusing on the small picture and judging the person and what they did, look at the situation differently and ask what benefit you received. What opportunity came from this “wrong”? When you can fully see the other side of the coin, you will be able to wholeheartedly say thank you “for-giving” me this experience.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.