Forgiveness seems hard to come by today, when perhaps it’s what some of us need most. Not for those in need of forgiveness, but for those of us in a position to forgive.
Some people have questioned my forgiveness, with comments and questions like,
I could never forgive someone who did those things to me.
I saw what you went through. How could you really forgive them?
No one else would forgive someone from trying to ruin her life.
Thank you to those who painted me in shades of saint, but forgiving is not always altruistic.
Forgiveness may come from an understanding of circumstances or perhaps despite them. Forgiveness does not mean acceptance nor grant permission to repeat an offense, quite the opposite in my case. I will always be diligent in protecting myself and those I care about.
So, why choose forgiveness?
The cornerstone of a positive, growth mindset can be summed up in Tal Ben-Shahar’s famous quote, “When you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.” It may sound simple, but there is great power in expanding positivity or growth by choice of focus.
As Catherine Bosley shared in her inspiring TEDx talk — My Naked Nightmare: A Lesson In Surviving Humiliation — “a good choice can empower and turn the worst around.” To help herself through her darkest moment, she focused on her checklist of positive choices, including “always turn to those you love and trust” and “abandon haters and temptations online and off.”
I chose standing up for myself and for others, and I chose to forgive.
Forgiveness gave me more capacity for positivity in my life and for helping others. I chose to forgive for myself as much as for those who harmed me. While it may or may not be meaningful to them, it’s not what matters most.
We don’t have to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, and it can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself.