It takes a special kind of discipline to forgive and change how you think and feel. It is easy to view yourself, your situation, or another person in a resentful way because blaming, feeling victimized, or being taken advantage of places responsibility outside of yourself. The following are self-statements based on the belief that responsibility and fault lies outside of yourself (externally):
- I am a victim.
- I hate you for doing this to me.
- You are responsible for my problems.
- I can’t do anything about my situation.
Repeating these kinds of statements can lead you into feeling trapped. That brings up the point of how to alter this negative pattern? The easy part is realizing that these statements don’t have to dictate your feelings. The reality is they have no innate power in and of themselves. In fact, you are the source of their power. When you internalize the statements, you counteract the possibility to change.
The hard part is figuring out how to feel differently. The first thing is to realize that you cannot prevent bad things from happening to you. However, you can decide to not let the “bad things” impact you. This is where forgiveness can help in the following ways:
Acknowledge that something bad has happened
Accept that it occurred because the world is not perfect
Understand that you are in charge of how you will interpret how you feel about this event
Decide to choose to not let this negative situation dictate how you feel about yourself
Using forgiveness in this way can transform internalized negative self-perceptions into thoughts that allow a person to move forward, even in the presence of hurt, mistakes, problems, and difficulties.
In later life, some of those negative evens are unavoidable, and even predictable. The older you are, the greater the likelihood that you will acquire a chronic health condition that will impair your function and may even cause you physical pain. To think otherwise would be naïve. However, you are not required to allow circumstances to determine your sense of well-being.
If you practice cultivating a forgiving attitude you will learn to let go of resentment and self-condemnation as challenges arise. Through forgiveness, you can focus on what you are still capable of enjoying, even in the presence of serious personal difficulties.