It's Christmas and a New Year is approaching and this marking of time will mean something different to each of us. It's a time when we think so much about forgiveness and yet sometimes this can feel like a challenge, especially when we are faced with someone who hasn't treated us well.
Forgiving is as important for our own well-being, as it is for the well-being of others. However, forgiving does not mean forgetting... in fact it is crucial that we don't forget.
And here's why...
1. When we shut ourselves off or distance ourselves from any of our past experiences, whether we do this knowingly or unknowingly, we also shut ourselves off from the learning and the growing that can come from that experience. Hindsight really is a wonderful thing... but only if we are able to bring an experience to mind and use it to grow and to learn.
2. If someone has treated us badly, an inability to forgive will cause the situation to return to our mind again and again, each time loaded with intense emotions that can eat away at our own inner well-being. It is important to remember that forgiveness doesn't mean that we are condoning something that wasn't all right.
3. If someone has treated us badly, holding on to a need for justice can keep us hooked into past experiences and inhibit us from investing our energy in causes that are genuinely worthy of this much attention. Recognizing that our need for fairness and justice has grown from an experience of injustice can give personal value to something that was awful. Our values are a statement of who we are and our passion deserves to be invested in new and current situations.
4. If someone has treated us badly sometimes the most important thing that we can do is to walk away. Trying to reach an understanding with someone who has no investment in the same can be an endless and draining experience and there is no value in remaining in relationships that deplete or hurt us. But we can of course still forgive.
5. We can always choose to look more deeply. It is important to remember that when someone lives their life in a manner that is ruthless or disregarding of others, that they do so for deep seated and complex reasons, usually rooted in fear, and ultimately the person that they hurt the most is themselves.
6. If you meet someone over Christmas who is rude or grumpy and a real Scrooge, it's really important to remember that it won't be personal to you, even if it's being directed at you and it feels that way. Christmas is a time when many people simply can't hide the way that they really feel.
7. We would love to think that being surrounded by people who are happy and joyous might be contagious. But sometimes this isn't always the case. Being surrounded by people can be the loneliest place in the world if we don't feel connected with anyone or we are struggling deep down inside of ourselves. Seeing other people happy can be a shocking reminder of our own pain and emptiness.
Compassion and empathy grow from the seeds of understanding.
To develop understanding we need to develop our capacity to reflect...
And to reflect we will need to be able to remember.
Change always starts from within.
Jenny Florence enjoys conversation with her readers.
Visit her website the a-z-of-emotionalhealth.com to listen to audio talks about Emotional Health.
Jenny's new audio book, Emotional Health, the Voice of Our Soul, has just been released. It is also available in Kindle.