Why I Decided to Forgive
To be perfectly honest, I’ve always struggled with forgiveness. It’s so hard! For the longest time, the word “forgiveness” didn’t exist in my vocabulary. It was black and white for me. It went a little something like this: I was wronged, I became the victim, and then I’d make them pay by holding a grudge. I would pride myself for being able to hold a grudge forever. I assigned responsibility for this super power on being a Scorpio. Now the Scorpio in me is still undeniable, so I’ll always have that stinger . . . but I digress. Ultimately, it was just easier than facing the bigger question of why. Why was it so hard for me to forgive someone? Why was it okay for me to remain the victim? Not cool. I’m happy to say that I finally realized I needed to work on this. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m better than I used to be—which is all anyone can ask for, right? Since everyone has been faced with the dilemma of whether or not to forgive at some point in their life, I wanted to share a pivotal moment for me.
If you know me well, you already know how much I admire Dr. Phil. I was watching his show one morning (like I do every morning) and he was talking with a guest about why she should forgive a woman who wronged her. As I listened, I began to relate to everything he was saying. I felt like he was talking directly to me. I was having a hard time forgiving several individuals, so I’m sure it was eating away at me. I stopped what I was doing, did a little rewind and listened to every single word he said—twice. All of a sudden, I felt my heart begin to lighten. I knew that it was something I needed to do.
Let me paraphrase what Dr. Phil said. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s something you do for YOURSELF, not for anyone else. You can’t wait for the resentment you harbor to just go away, because it won’t. As long as you are holding yourself back from forgiving someone, you’re locked away in your own emotional prison. You have to make the choice to free yourself from it. You're letting somebody else dictate your emotions and ultimately control you. By forgiving them, you’re not saying that what they did was okay—because it’s not. But instead of holding onto it, you give yourself permission to move on with your life. And by doing this, you don’t allow them to hold you captive anymore.
Whoa. Dr. Phil was dropping his daily wisdom right into my lap. And let me tell you, this was a new perspective for me. I felt a release—like a boulder was lifted off my shoulders and my heart. I began to cry. In that moment, I realized that I can only control myself. I cannot control what other people say OR do to me. I cannot make them understand my side of things. I cannot make them apologize. I cannot make them see the error of their ways. I cannot make them forgive me. I can only control how I handle it. I can only control how I let it affect me. I can only control how I respond to it. And it was time for me to respond in a new way. I was not going to let them have power over me anymore. I realized that if I kept holding on to this resentment, it would continue to consume me and my thoughts. They didn’t deserve one more minute of my precious time and energy. It was time to put that valuable time and energy into better things like people who choose to be in my life, self care, and my big life plans. I decided I didn’t want to be a victim anymore. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I am trying to live my best life and motivate others to live theirs!
I also realized that just because I make the choice to forgive someone, it damn sure doesn’t mean that I will forget how they hurt me or how they made me feel. I will continue to guard my heart around them. But I will forgive them for making a mistake. I will forgive them for being insecure and projecting that onto me. I will forgive them for not forgiving me. I will forgive them for taking their anger or fear out on me. I will forgive them for falling victim to their own emotions and punishing me for it. I will forgive them because if I don’t, they will win. And I will lose.
Every once in a while, something may come up and remind me of one of these circumstances from the past. I might think about those people and the decision they made to hurt me. If I ever start to get upset, I stop and force myself to feel empathy for them. How were they able to betray or hurt someone they supposedly loved or cared about? What a shitty thing to do. I remember that whatever that reason is, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s something that’s wrong with them. And THAT is something THEY have to live with. But not me . . . not anymore. I am no longer their prisoner. They can no longer hold me captive.
Maybe you’re one to forgive easily or maybe you’re like me and have a more difficult time. Being one way or another doesn’t make you better or worse—it’s just a part of who you are. Not matter how you get there, I hope you ultimately choose to forgive. I hope you give yourself permission to let go and move on with your life. It doesn’t mean that whatever they did to you was right or okay. It doesn’t mean you have to bring them back into your life. And it most definitely doesn’t mean that they win. By allowing forgiveness into your heart, it will bring you peace and freedom. And in the end, you will be the real winner.