You may be asking yourself, “how can forgiveness hold me back?” Actually, the emotion holding you back isn’t forgiveness — it’s a lack of forgiveness. For many, traumas, bad memories or unpleasant experiences can accumulate in our minds, layering on top of one another over the years. You need to truly forgive in order to let that negative accumulation disintegrate.
Why Not Forgiving Is Damaging
Without applying true forgiveness, storage of negative feelings can significantly impact a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. In my case, my traumas, hurtful and shameful experiences led to my body giving me enormous pain. The chronic pain was so bad that I couldn’t function as I normally would. Every day was a struggle to bear the pain.
When I discovered Dr. Sarno, I realized that my mind had held onto my bad moments for so long, hoarding them in my subconscious. My mind was trying to protect me from reliving and going through those experiences. Instead, it was trying to distract me by giving me chronic pain known as the mind-body syndrome or tension myositis syndrome (TMS). My inability to process and forgive myself and others for those past events directly led to my excruciating TMS chronic pain. It was only after I forgave both others and – more importantly – myself that I was able to find relief and enjoy a pain-free life again.
Forgiveness is easier said than done. True forgiveness may be hard to give due to offense against us or who has done the hurting and to whom. The main thing to remember is that holding on to your grudge, or unforgiveness, is really damaging you.
The inability to forgive is really about fear or anger, or both. It might be fear of being hurt again, fear of change, fear of letting someone “get away” with something and residual anger over the act or that person’s handling of the fallout. To truly forgive, so you can move on and live a happier life, you need to train your brain into letting go.
How to Achieve Forgiveness & Finally Let Go
Commit – The first step to forgiving is to acknowledge that you’d actually like to forgive. Many people may say they want to forgive, but their fear or anger actually makes them hold onto the event harder than ever. To move on, you must train your brain to 100% commit to forgiving yourself and others for any wrongdoing that occurred.
Practice – Forgiveness may come naturally, or may, in fact, be very difficult. Each situation is uniquely different, as are the circumstances of the negative experience. If you forgive someone then find yourself thinking about the event, mulling it over, try to remember that you’re practicing forgiveness and moving on. You don’t want to engage with those negative patterns of thinking anymore. Over time, with lots of practice, forgiving will become easier as will letting go.
Be the Change – Like many, fear and anger have kept me from forgiving others and myself for far too long, damaging my mind from within. Looking back, I have actions and words that I regret too. The best way to move forward is to apologize and be the changed person I want to be. This involves treating others in the manner which I hope they will treat me. Forgiveness comes in many forms and sometimes giving others (and yourself) a fresh start is an excellent way to practice forgiveness daily.
Meditation – Taking time each day to meditate can greatly help reduce feelings of anger or fear so that you’re less likely to rely on them and fall back into past patterns when dealing with a stressful event. Clearing your mind will help you maintain the forgiveness you’ve committed to giving.