What is Forgiveness? By Helen Tanner © copyright 2022
‘The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.’ Marianne Williamson.
Forgiveness is a healing process.
Forgiveness is a healing process which we, the human family, have been gifted in order to free us from the pain of the past, and being tied to the situations and the people who’ve hurt us.
The forgiveness journey can take us through many layers of hurt, some of which we’ve carried throughout our lifetime, or even inherited from our ancestors or cultural history. What is unhealed will be passed onto future generations, and so, forgiveness is not just for our own healing, but helps to free everyone affected by a situation.
Forgiveness is an exchange
The word forgiveness literally means to give away or to give forth. On the forgiveness journey, we are required to release difficult feelings, let go of certain beliefs about ourselves and life, and gradually shift our focus away from blame and victimhood, to reclaim our power and responsibility for our own wellbeing.
In return for what we ‘give away’ the gifts we receive are immense: We can experience freedom, inner peace, and a return of the ability to love and trust again. As well as the relief of the emotional and mental burden, forgiveness can also improve physical wellbeing, such as lowering our blood pressure, strengthening our immune system, and supporting the healthy functioning of our heart.
Forgiveness is a spiritual process.
Most major religions encourage the practice of forgiveness, but in and of itself, it’s not a religious process. It is available to all of us if we are willing to make the journey.
For many, it is a spiritual process however, as it can raise many questions about who we are as human beings, what our true nature is, and what our purpose in life is.
Forgiveness is because you deserve peace
Forgiveness is an inner healing journey to transform your pain and suffering. It has absolutely nothing to do with another person ‘deserving’ it. It’s about YOU deserving to be free, peaceful and able to love again.
Forgiveness is the eventual release of feelings of resentment, rage, and desire for revenge towards someone or several people who have harmed you (including yourself). It’s about your own freedom, your own wellbeing, your own sense of peace.
Forgiveness is not about forgetting or condoning
Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It’s not about saying that what happened to you is okay, it’s not about excusing what happened to you, and it doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with another person. Nor does it say that they shouldn’t be held accountable-including legally.
Forgiveness should NEVER be used as an excuse to stay in an abusive situation or as a way of self- harming. To use forgiveness to cause harm (including to yourself) is a mis-use and a misunderstanding of its medicine and purpose.
My interest in forgiveness
My interest in forgiveness began back in 2009. I was studying a Masters degree in International Conflict Resolution, and was interested in how people find inner peace-after experiencing the worst that life has to offer e.g after violence, rape, kidnapping, displacement, and war.
As a newly qualified Creative Psychotherapist, I had worked in war-affected Kosovo in 2003, and seen the evidence of the violent devastation we as humans are capable of. I vowed then to seek ways to combine my healing and psychotherapy work with that of peace. In 2009 I had returned to university seeking solutions.The one I found-you could say found me-not in the university lecture theatre, but actually in a deserted village hall.
Personal stories of forgiveness
There, I found an exhibition of people’s stories of forgiveness. (https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/) It was incredibly moving. There were pictures of people who had forgiven, together with their stories of what they had forgiven, and why. Although each story was unique, two things shone through:
The first is that Forgiveness is a gift to all of us, no matter our age, our gender, culture, faith (or no faith), no matter what has happened to us, or how terrible. The gift was universal. AND. IT. WORKED.
People who had found the path had found peace and been able to move forward with their life through the most extra-ordinary of circumstances.
The second thing, was that, these inspirational peacemakers had walked the path more often than not, alone. They had worked it out themselves, found the courage, and done the ‘inner work’ largely without a map or a guide.
Mapping the journey
Back in 2009 I dedicated my Masters research to mapping out the journey to forgiveness so that in future, people who are ready to forgive don’t need to go it alone, or find their way through the dark without a map or compass.
I have been refining the journey and now guide people though my unique Self-compassion & Forgiveness journeys.
Forward-wind to 2016, and I had the opportunity to experience the forgiveness journey for myself-when I experienced a personal betrayal and abandonment which brought me to my knees.
Now, more than ever, having come through this experience by taking the forgiveness journey, and feeling more peace, freedom and love than ever before in my heart, I am more committed than ever to supporting others on their healing path.
Peace is possible-but it is an active process. We have to do the inner work and invite forgiveness in.
Here to help you
Forgiveness is your choice and it’s your process. No-one can pressure you to forgive or not to forgive-you will know if and when it’s time.
Forgiveness is a very ancient process and many have traveled the path. But still, for many, it’s a lonely path, and some never begin because they simply don’t know how to.
I am here to support you. If forgiveness is a journey that you’re thinking of making, I’m a forgiveness guide and I’ve got a map. You don’t have to make the journey alone.
I look forward to hearing from you. 🙏