I’m big on forgiveness, some might say too forgiving but I’m glad that I don’t hold grudges and I find it easy to let negativity go.
It doesn’t mean those who have wronged me historically neccessarily, receive my respect, time or energy anymore, but practising consistent forgiveness has allowed me to move past negative experiences easily, and I feel liberated for it.
It’s taken two years of therapy to come to terms with some of the difficult experiences in my past and the abuse (not huge by any means but present) I’ve faced online but I genuinely forgive those who have wronged and hurt me.
I have built strength and resilience.
Forgiveness is a value I prioritise. It’s vital for my mental health and as my therapist advises, starts from within with self-love and self-forgiveness because we’re all flawed humans who make mistakes so once we forgive ourselves, we can forgive others.
Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Positive Psychology Coach and founder of Champs – mental wealth consultants, shares 5 important ways below so you can embrace the concept of forgiveness, for yourself primarily, and those you’re forgiving to help improve your peace of mind, and life.
Thank you Ruth.
Forgiveness as a word, can feel almost religious in tone. It’s one of those words that can either feel too fluffy and over-generous or too black and white. But there’s more to forgiveness than saying sorry or letting somebody back into your life, who did you wrong.
In fact, forgiveness can be a truly complex yet truly wonderful thing to embrace. I wanted to share what I’ve learnt through my research and coaching career as well as what I’ve applied to my own life, here, to help you practise forgiveness.
Here are my 5 tips to forgiving:
Practising forgiveness does not make you weak…
Forgiveness is a strength that requires you to be both brave and vulnerable – not just if you’re forgiving others but also if you’re forgiving yourself.
None of us are perfect so if you’ve dropped a colleague in it, or upset someone etc being able to own up to your mistakes helps everyone – including you.
As we’re all hard wired to survive, by default, we often hate to think we’ve messed up or hurt someone else but if we can acknowledge this and then let go, thinking, ‘yeah I did do that and it was wrong’ then we can all benefit from what that acknowledgement and forgiveness, brings.
All too often, when somebody messes up, the person on the receiving end might feel obliged to say that it’s OK and to forget about it, but in reality, it’s not doing anyone any favours to ignore what has happened. Resentment might rumble on under the surface so when mistakes happen, own up to your stuff and remember the quote – ‘we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we’ve got.’
Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation
In simple terms, when we think about forgiveness, we think about saying sorry to somebody and moving on with that relationship. But we don’t have to do that. You can forgive someone, or yourself, with regards to a situation,but it doesn’t mean maintaining that situation or relationship with others.
Sometimes relationships, romantic, platonic or professional, just aren’t right for us. Sometimes what has taken place is too painful to completely resolve. And that’s OK. Make peace with the situation but don’t feel you have to return to the situation.
Forgiving yourself does not necessarily mean accepting blame
Sometimes we feel angry with ourselves for no good reason. For example, when people experience a mental health problem and beat themselves up about not being able to get out of bed or for having a panic attack in an every day situation, they blame themselves. Crying is something else we often apologise for. But why? Mental health problems are not of our own making, they are simply something we are experiencing. And when it comes to crying – why shouldn’t we? It’s a release – it can be good for us.
Forgiving yourself in these situations doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong or that you’re weak, it’s about letting go of perceived responsibilities and showing yourself compassion.
Forgive yourself for not being perfect
Nobody is perfect. Nobody. Perceived perfection on TV or in the media is filtered, curated, tweaked and polished. It’s not real. You want hair like a Hollywood superstar? That star is probably wearing a wig. You want to climb to the top of the career ladder? Well, nobody reaches the top – everybody always wants to go further. If you spend so long trying to be perfect, you’ll lose sight of who you are and what you’ve already achieved.
On another note, don’t put limitations on yourself. Who says you can’t achieve x, y or z because you’re not perfect? Because you’re anxious? Because you’re shy or awkward? Forgive yourself by embracing your unique imperfections and vulnerabilities. Drop that front. Relax with who you are. You’ll probably find that it opens up so many more opportunities for you.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to be a big gesture – you can practice it every day!
How many times have we scolded ourselves for not being productive enough during a working day? Or for not spending enough time with friends or family? I’m sure the answer for most of us is that we’ve often been angry with ourselves over things like that and often.
But turn it around. Instead of thinking that you’ve done nothing, consider the fact that you’ve given your body or brain the rest it deserves. That’s surely a good thing?
Similarly, if you feel that you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you’ve not given enough time and space to your body and mind in the form of self-care, don’t beat yourself up about that either. That kind of attitude is only going to drain you more. Take a breath, think about when you can take time to relax, go for a walk or laugh at a comedy show, and do it when you can.
You’ll feel better for giving yourself a break when it comes to what you should’ve or could’ve done.
Forgive yourself first and the rest will follow.
Ruth is the founder of Champs Consulting and is a positive psychology expert and coach. She has recently launched a new online coaching course, My Mental Wealth, that you can take at your own pace by accessing online films, workshops and the supportive M Wealth Facebook community. Visit the My Mental Wealth website for more information.