August 13, 2019
Do you recall a time someone hurt or offended you? Maybe you’re going through this right now, or there’s a hurt that’s been with you from way back.
We need people for joy and friendship, but ironically people cause the most pain.
In my life, my cats don’t offend me or put a dent in my confidence. The dog up the road greets me with enthusiasm on my walks. The main source of stress for me has been with other people. These people have been minimal and i’m grateful for the people in my life. I’m sure there are more kind people than not and most people don’t aim to hurt us, but some do and this is what I’m talking about today.
When we’re hurt by another person, there’s a scale of offence from small and annoying to severe where deep pain and resentment reside. Hate seems to be the end result of a long brew where the pot over-boils. This is the end point I hope we don’t get to because this slows down our happiness and progress. Hate stagnates us. Freedom releases us.
But how do we deal with being betrayed, wronged, shamed or offended ?
To overcome hurt, we need to understand what forgiving really means. The goal isn’t to excuse what they did to you. You may even decide to end a relationship or not to engage with them anymore.
The end goal of forgiving is your joy, recovery, freedom, and success
I recall a time where I became consumed with a person and what they did.
After wasting hours and weeks ruminating on events, I realized I was offending myself.
I also discovered my thoughts were distracting and I wasn’t present with my family. I was robbing myself of joy.
I decided to learn about the power of forgiving. Not for them but for me. Well, yes for them too because I realized sometimes people hurt others because they have pain themselves. This thought helped me direct my focus to better things.
I needed to break free.
First of all, let’s look at what forgiveness is not. Even the word forgiveness made me cranky. Why should this person get away with what they’ve done? But after some reading, I discovered this isn’t what we are doing when we forgive.
Here are a couple of definitions of forgiveness from reputable sources.
Here the authors define forgiveness as a “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness” 
Here, the author defines forgiveness as an “individual, voluntary internal process of letting go of feelings and thoughts of resentment, bitterness, anger, and the need for vengeance and retribution toward someone who we believe has wronged us, including ourselves”
In 2015, a research project looked at two types of forgiveness; decisional and emotional forgiveness and how these allow us to forgive and forget.
The researchers define forgiveness as thinking less negatively about the offender.
Notice here this isn’t letting the offender off the hook. It is loosening the link you have to that person. This is done by thinking less about the negative characteristics of them and what they did.
The study found that how we forgive impacts how we forget.
they mention there are three options we have in forgiving someone after they hurt us:
The researchers found when people just decided to forgive, but their emotions didn’t line up with the decision, the effects were similar to not forgiving at all. But they suggest after we make that decision to forgive, our emotions can catch up with the decision so we are released from negative thoughts about the person who hurt us.
This decision to forgive really brings the benefits to us, not the offender. Although, when a person offends you and they see you being firm but not vengeful, this could be a lesson for them in strength and maturity. But it may not, and that’s beyond our control.
We can find a way to do what helps ourselves, despite what they choose to do. This person who hurt you may never know you have chosen to forgive, but this choice is for you. Your joy, freedom and success.
So what are the benefits of choosing to forgive?
We need people, but relationships are challenging and there is a role for acknowledging you are hurt. Forgiveness releases you from that person. It is not forgetting, excusing or allowing but choosing to expand the distance between you and the one who hurt you.
What are the benefits to you when you choose to release yourself from the distress of being hurt?
 Ref 1 Lichtenfeld S, Buechner VL, Maier MA, Fernández-Capo M (2015) Forgive and Forget: Differences between Decisional and Emotional Forgiveness. PLOS ONE 10(5): e0125561. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0125561
 https://positivepsychology.com/forgiveness/ and https://positivepsychology.com/forgiveness-benefits/
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I’m the creator of Minutes to Happy and your go-to counsellor and wellness coaching companion.
I’m here to guide you in becoming your bravest self (no matter what wellness worries and chronic health challenges are plonked in your path).