By: Catarina Santos Faria
Psychologist

The act of forgiveness is not a mere attitude

Forgiveness will always be a determinant factor in an individual’s well being.

Why must we forgive?
It’s proven that forgiveness has a great therapeutic effect, the act of forgiving benefits not only our psychological well being, but also our physical health.
Many of us would like to forgive someone, but we don’t always know how to. Forgiveness is not a difficult process. However, the association we make between the pain, revolt and disappointment that we feel makes this process complex and slow at times.

Can we forgive when all these feelings are present at the time of decision making?
Most of the time, the people that have disappointed us didn’t do it on purpose, just as them, we’ve made mistakes and disappointed someone at some point or moment during our lives. There isn’t a person who has never done something that he or she regretted later, not even those who say to only regret what they have failed to do.
We’re all different and, as such, we have different convictions and expectations regarding ourselves and others. What for many is considered acceptable, for you may be inadmissible, what for some can be a tolerable situation, for you may not. We make choices that others consider wrong, yet we think be the most correct, at times we regret these choices, but refuse to go back on it. Sometimes we might go back on it, but can’t ask for forgiveness, we may ask for forgiveness without it being granted, and we may also decide not to forgive someone.

These are all possible equations in the process of forgiveness.

The process becomes easier when we accept that we can, at anytime, treat someone or ourselves badly. When we consider that sometimes what seems the best option in a given time may become the worst option later, we recognise the importance of forgiveness and thereby understand that others may also make wrong choices and decisions. Others may have opted for something that disappointed you, but was for them the best option at one particular time. We will be ready to forgive when we accept that all these equations may be valid.

Apologising shows appreciation for our own feelings!

Forgive yourself
Understand the reasons why you’ve, consciously or unconsciously, disappointed and hurt yourself in the past. Remember what you felt in those moments as this is the only way to release your guilt.

Ask someone for forgiveness 
There have been time where, somehow in a moment you, consciously or unconsciously, you disappointed or hurt other people, causing them pain. Ask yourself why you did so, allow yourself to feel the pain and regret for such actions. Understand that is possible for you to free yourself from guilt and ask forgiveness.

Forgive someone 
There have been times where you were hurt by others and felt disappointed with actions that could have been done consciously or unconsciously by them. Allow yourself to try and understand what were the reasons underlying such actions. As you reflect upon the reasons, bear in mind that you also make mistakes, because as hard as it may be, you’ll be better ready to forgive this way.

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