The true definition of forgiveness should center on the advantages of feeling peaceful.
Finding peace does not need to be complicated. Remember, all grievances begin when something in a person’s life happens that they do not want to happen.
From that initial unpleasantness they take things too personally, blame the offender for how they feel, and tell a grievance story.
The grievance means that too much space is rented in their minds to hurt and anger.
Remember this definition of forgiveness: It is first foremost a practical definition. Your goal is to feel peaceful.
The feeling of peace comes as you heal your grievances – blaming less, taking responsibility for how you feel, and changing the story you tell.
This is called peace forgiveness. As you feel more and more peace, you are progressing in your goal to heal from your grievances. You are learning to forgive.
Advantages of Forgiveness
A major advantage from forgiveness emerges as we give more love and care to the important people in our lives.
I know from my own experience and those of many others that hurts from the past often cause us to draw away and mistrust the very people who are trying to love us.
Too often the people who suffer from our grievances are not the people who hurt us but those who care for us today. If we rent too much space to what went wrong, where is the space to appreciate the good in our lives?
If we focus our attention on past defeats, how can we give our full loving attention to our significant other, friends, or co-workers? If we remain bitter over past parenting, who suffers – our parents or our current friends and loved ones?
For instance, I have a friend named Tim that grew up in a tumultuous home with lots of anger and bitterness.
When Tim carries that legacy into his friendships and love relationships, who reaps the consequences?
If Tim is mad at his parents for their out-of-control home and develops a short fuse, do his parents or his current partner bear the brunt? Of course they do, and it isn’t fair.
Three Important Components of Forgiveness
There are three components when it comes to forgiveness. The most critical component is the story we tell.
When we tell a story of victimization we have already taken something too personally and are blaming the offender for how we feel.
When you tell the story of your heroic overcoming of an injustice, you will naturally blame less and take things less personally. However, it is very difficult to move directly to changing a well-rehearsed grievance story.
You should begin by taking responsibility for how you feel to avoid that problem. We have to remember that we are responsible for our emotional experience.
Our past is not responsible for our present feelings. Just because something unpleasant occurred in our past or may occur in our future does not mean that day after day should be ruined.
Difficulties, mistreatments, and unkindness do not have an extended warranty. We become helpless when we give the person who hurt us excessive power over how we feel. Our painful feelings will diminish only when we take that power back and show we are responsible for how we feel.
There is a complementary technique that will help us reclaim responsibility for how we feel. This technique is easy to practice and available to everyone. It is to not lose sight of the good things in our life.
This sounds simple but takes some effort. What this means is we spend time and energy finding the beauty and love in our life to balance the time we spend on grudges, grievances, and wounds.