At Christmas a lot of old hurts can show up. You may be catching up with people you only see infrequently, and so whilst you have been able to practice avoidance throughout the year, all of a sudden that is no longer possible. And then amongst other expectations at Christmas is that you ‘play nice’ on the day.
You may also have trouble forgiving people who are now no longer in your life, or have an ex-partner who has chosen not to see their children at Christmas (and yes it happens a lot) and be feeling resentful about this. There may be fractious family relationships, there may be hurt from friends who don’t seem to be making an effort to catch up. The list of possible sources of resentment is almost endless.
So what is forgiveness? Do you do it once and only when the person involved has apologised and promised not to do it again? Do you forgive someone as many times as it takes? Over and over?
Can you forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven? Is forgiveness an act of self-care, of grace, or an act of rebuilding a friendship or relationship? Or perhaps it can be any of these and all of these.
As a parent sometimes I am practicing forgiveness on an almost ongoing basis! And each day begins anew. Dwelling on the mistakes of myself, and my children, would only get in the way of relationship building.
Forgiveness is an ongoing process of letting go of the hurts and the disappointments that come with human imperfection.
And this comes more easily to some people.
And it is easier to forgive some people than others.
Forgiveness is first and foremost a choice
Forgiveness is first and foremost a choice, an action. It involves moving from a space of blame to a space of release. My question to you is, do you want to put the burden down?
Forgiveness is an act you do for yourself. It does not mean you agree with what someone did, it does not mean you agree with whatever you did. It does mean you are choosing to release the blame, anger, resentment, and hurt. There are five steps you can practice towards this.
Five steps to forgiveness
Write yourself an statement of belief.
Congratulations on taking the step to start this often difficult work.
Until next time, take care of yourself
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.