Forgiveness and Gratitude
We hear a lot about gratitude this time of year. We are asked to be mindful of loved ones in our lives and to be grateful for them. But as we run through the lis of names in our heads we sometimes stumble on one or two who have caused us pain in the past, and the thought of being grateful for them causes us to mentally stumble and get stuck.
In order to feel gratefulness for those who have harmed us, an act which will benefit our health and wellness tremendously, we must be able to for forgive them. How do we forgive someone who harmed us? We ask ourselves, knowing we must try, but not sure how.
Forgiveness actually means letting go - of the vindictiveness or the need for revenge. Living with these emotions can be harmful to our souls, and therefore our health. Forgiveness does not require that we forget the harms done to us, nor that we trust those who harmed us. Trust only come at the end of a long road that begins with forgiveness,, if it is to come at all! Forgiveness does not require trust but trust does require forgiveness.
By forgiving the person who has harmed us, while not forgetting the harm or trusting the person who has harmed us, we can allow ourselves to learn from the harmful experience and set boundaries for ourselves to not put ourselves in a potentially harmful situation again. This simply exemplifies self love and self care, which is optimized by feelings of forgiveness, grace and then gratitude, and can only begin with forgiveness.
Empathy is essential for forgiveness. Remember and be mindful of the fact that all people have the same fundamental motivations to be loved, seen and to matter. I truly believe that people do the best they can given the tools that they have, or the talents they may lack. Once we realize this and recognize that we are all human, with the capacity to hurt one another, whatever our intentions or motivations, it is much easier to forgive and then be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Dr. John Monaco