Practices, Principles, and Purpose of Forgiveness

by Lea Wetzel, Drop-in Center Coordinator

April 18, 2023

Forgiveness is a big part of a healing journey. It takes a lot of acceptance to be able to forgive and to acknowledge there is a need to understand that whatever it is that is holding one back, or is causing inner conflicts, is not always ours to own. We do not have to completely understand the reasoning behind one’s negative doing to us, we don’t ever have to forget, but being able to forgive, can allow healing and growth to continue.  

Without forgiveness, whatever it is that is bothering us, can become very toxic to one’s wellbeing. Practicing forgiveness helps if you have worked on positive change within your inner self. Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving heart muscles slowly, incorporating regular “exercises”, or practices.

You can start this process by making a commitment to do no harm to ourselves or others. In other words, making a conscious effort not to talk negatively about those who’ve hurt you. If you keep from talking negatively, it will start to open the forgiving side of your mind and heart.

You can also make a practice of recognizing that every person is unique, special, and irreplaceable. Everyone has their own story and journey that they are on, and things that they have gone through. This doesn’t mean what harm they have done to you, is okay. It only means that you are your own unique and special self, and there is no need to act on, react to another’s ignorance, or their lack of ability to be kind and respectful to others. You may come to this through your beliefs, spirituality, or religion. It’s important to cultivate a mindset of valuing all of humanity, so that it becomes harder to discount someone who has harmed you.

You can show love in small ways in everyday encounters. Like smiling at others, holding the door, taking time to listen to a child. Giving love when it’s unnecessary helps to build the love muscle, making it easier to show compassion toward everyone. If you practice small acts of forgiveness, it starts extending care when someone harms you. This can help in everyday life.

Sometimes pride and power can weaken your efforts to forgive by making you feel entitled, so that you hang onto your resentment as a with cause. Try to catch yourself when you are acting from that place, and choose forgiveness, instead. If you need inspiration, it can help to seek out stories of others, to get out of self, and have your own understanding, and acceptance that what other’s do, maybe terribly wrong, but it doesn’t have to stunt the growth and forgiveness of yourself and can be a practice that you do at your own pace.

There is no right or wrong way to “practice” or implement this into your own life. I am not saying these are the answers, they are simply suggestions and ways that have helped support the forgiveness process in my own life. In some of these suggestions and practices are things I researched along the way and have supported the pathway of my own healing and growing journey.


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