In a recent interview on the Oprah show with Wade Robson and James Safechuck related to the film, Leaving Neverland, Safechuck told Oprah, "Forgiveness is not a line that you cross—it's a road that you take." This profound statement has applications far beyond this film and suggests that forgiveness and healing are a choice, and possible for everyone.
In this post, we’ll discuss what that means within your life and how you can apply this mindset to any situation that requires forgiveness. Below are some considerations that will help you choose the road of forgiveness.
Give Yourself Time
You live in a world of accelerated timelines. It takes one minute to connect with a friend over text, five minutes to get an Uber, and twenty minutes to have fresh food on your doorstep with meal delivery services. Because life moves at a rapid pace, sometimes it’s hard to temper expectations around the speed at which things will change. When it comes to forgiveness and letting go, the timeline can be decades, not minutes. When you begin with this expectation, that forgiving and letting go happens over time and incrementally, you set yourself up for success.
For example, if you are overcoming a relationship loss or divorce, some people say that you will likely need half the time of the duration of the relationship to feel that you have significantly moved on. For a five year relationship, that’s almost three years of actively working through the loss before truly letting go. Now, that doesn’t mean that you are going to be stuck on this person for this entire time. It does mean that the remnants of your relationship will simmer in the background of your mind and heart, bringing up some emotions. The intensity and length of stay of those emotions is greater when closer to the relationship and less as time goes on, until the length and intensity becomes almost nothing - if you have done the work to heal. Especially if you struggle with early childhood wounds that you have battled your whole life that surface as you go through the separation or other difficult loss, you can imagine that the road to forgiveness can be long, and oftentimes look like “two steps forward, one step back”.
Especially if you have an anxious attachment style, you might be quick to blame yourself for things that went wrong in your life. If you and your partner have struggled with infidelity, for example, you might be quick to blame yourself for that situation, believing that your own inadequacies influenced that infidelity. If you have experienced abuse, you might have spun up a story about being deserving of such treatment or minimized the effects of abuse on your life and relationships. This tendency to blame yourself for any unfortunate circumstances in your life won’t help you progress along the path of forgiveness.
Instead, forgiveness in any situation starts with forgiving yourself, making peace with and taking responsibility for your part of the scenario, and working on self-love. This ability to forgive yourself is an extremely powerful and overlooked component on the path of forgiveness. It’s not an event, but instead, it’s a daily decision to love yourself despite the mistakes of your past, or the mistakes of others’ you have taken ownership of.
Embrace the journey
Forgiveness isn’t a switch. It’s not a button you push, or a decision you make. Forgiveness is a journey. Embracing this approach will making healing and moving on more accessible. It will also help you feel less damaged or broken that you haven’t yet reached the point of forgiveness if you realize it’s not a point you reach, but a process you work on.
There are a variety of tools that can support this journey, including journaling and even reading about forgiveness. You might find peace in meditation, yoga, or praying. The simple act of visualizing forgiveness, practicing the feeling of forgiveness (versus resentment), and choosing peace about a tough situation can support your journey. Self-care can help foster self-love, which is important along this path.
Forgiveness happens overtime, both consciously and unconsciously, and your progress will be non-linear. You will likely never feel 100% resolved about past challenges and losses, but will continue to make progress steadily along the path to healing.
The team at Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado supports clients struggling with resentment and seeking forgiveness about a specific situation. In working through client scenarios, understanding the root causes of feelings, and uncovering triggering situations, we can help you find a path of forgiveness. Forgiveness will never be an event, but always a process. Our team is here to support that ongoing commitment to choose peace around a challenging situation. We begin with a free consultation with a staff member and encourage you to schedule yours today.