What is the well-hidden truth about forgiveness that is preventing you from finding it?
It should come as no surprise that forgiveness can be one of the most elusive behaviors we exhibit as human beings. You can probably relate when I say that there are times when we know we should forgive someone, but we just can’t.
Other times, we can’t even fathom forgiving someone.
And for many people, we can’t come to a place where forgiveness is an option because we don’t fully understand what it is, or how it works. Sadly, this prevents us from repairing the relationships that are suffering from the shackles of past hurts and experiences.
Why? For many, forgiveness is hard to achieve because we believe that it is a singular action.
You may say “I forgive you.”
But do you really? Have you truly forgived this person by saying “I forgive you?”
I would guess that you don’t “feel” like you’ve actually forgiven this person, and you are just saying the words that you believe will fix the relationship. Unfortunately, that is not forgiveness.
The one thing you need to know about forgiveness before you can truly forgive is this: Forgiveness is a process.
Experts have been researching forgiveness extensively for many years, looking to find what triggers the genuine act of forgiving in a human being. Many of them have come to the conclusion that forgiveness is tricky for many of us because we expect it to be instantaneous, as if our willpower is enough to spur feelings of acceptance and exoneration.
Unfortunately, force of will simply isn’t enough for most people to truly forgive.
One expert is Dr. Robert Enright from the University of Wisconsin. He has provided research that points to forgiveness being a process that is ultimately a choice. His 20-Step Model Process of Forgiveness posits that truly forgiving someone is actually a trainable skill that people can learn and apply.
Of course, each person is different, so “learning” forgiveness is a challenge unique to your personality, experiences and perspective. Still, experts like Enright firmly believe that the act of forgiving is a process that is inherent to our nature and that the benefits of letting go are too great to pass up.
Well, we’ve answered the question at hand, but we now have a new one: “What is the process of forgiveness and how can I apply it?”
Come back tomorrow for Part 2, where we will discuss the steps to cultivating meaningful and lasting forgiveness.
You may also want to read: How to Forgive Yourself-Letting Go of Past Regrets