You can't complete the path to Healing without walking through the difficult and powerful step of Forgiveness. In many ways, our society has a very peculiar way of looking at forgiveness. As a result, many people believe they just don't have the power or ability to forgive, despite having the desire to be able to do so.

Myths about forgiveness

There are a number of commonly held myths about forgiveness that can undermine its potential and capacity to provide healing. Many people have had the experience of believing they have forgiven someone or have themselves been forgiven, to later find themselves questioning if that is actually true.

It is important to remember that forgiving is not forgetting and it does not guarantee you will never feel anger or pain related to what you had to forgive ever again.

In addition, forgiveness is not reconciliation. It does not make whatever happened acceptable or okay. Just as the brain stores memories of the source of physical pain, it retains memories of how as well. Having an involuntary negative reaction to someone who has hurt you does not make you a bad person, nor does it prove that you haven't truly forgiven them. It's just the body engaging in one of its numerous protection mechanisms.

One of the more commonly held myths about forgiveness is that it's about the other person. It's not.

Forgiveness is first and foremost about the person doing the forgiving. The act of forgiveness is not a demonstration of benevolence or grace. Instead, it's a necessary undertaking for self-preservation.

When a person forgives they let go of the negative energy and emotions that were consuming and depleting the strength of their mind and body.

Refraining from engaging in the cleansing and healing process of forgiveness confines one to a perpetual state of victimhood. Despite the passage of time, they will remain vulnerable to the real and imagined influence of their perpetrator. The ability to forgive relinquishes a person from the power their perpetrator maintained over them.

When someone forgives, they extinguish the consuming fire of hatred and anger, which empowers them to become healthier, happier, more enriched versions of themselves.

The process of forgiveness

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu teaches, to forgive is not a simple decision a person can choose to make at a moment's notice. Forgiveness is a process that evokes an array of emotions -- both positive and negative -- which are all okay to feel. To complete the process of forgiveness a person must tell their story, name their hurt, grant forgiveness, and either renew or release the relationship. It's an extremely personal and intimate process -- one that the person you are forgiving is not necessarily entitled to even know about.

Forgive yourself daily

A conversation about forgiveness cannot be complete without the important and often overlooked part of forgiving oneself just as you forgive others. Have enough grace for yourself to assume the most magnanimous intentions behind your words and actions. Have enough compassion for yourself to accept your own humanity and the imperfection that accompanies it. Forgive yourself and forgive others for yourself.

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