In this episode of Conversations with Smart People, I interviewed Brenda Reiss, a Forgiveness Coach in the Greater Seattle area who helps clients navigate the process of forgiveness, about the art of forgiveness.
I don’t know about you, but this is a tough one for me. I mean, I understand the concept of forgiveness, but putting it into practice hasn’t always been so easy. When I feel hurt or betrayed or disregarded in some way, it has always been much easier to walk away from the person or situation — but that doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity to learn the art of forgiveness.
On top of that, as an introvert I typically do anything and everything I can to avoid conflict, but what I’ve come to understand is that holding onto my anger and resentment comes with a price. When we resist letting go of our anger and disappointment, it almost always takes a toll on our health. Walking away from situations that hurt us won’t make them go away. We’ll continue to experience the weight and pain of the situation until we deal with it appropriately.
Watch my interview with Brenda here.
As Brenda pointed out, forgiveness can sometimes be a scary word, especially if you believe that the act in some way condones the behavior or makes it okay. But it doesn’t automatically mean that we’ll forget it happened, or that it doesn’t evoke sadness or anger when it crosses our mind. But it does take the energy out of the situation, and that’s a good thing when it comes to our well-being. Forgiveness isn’t synonymous with forgetting.Forgiveness isn't synonymous with forgetting. Click To Tweet
While there’s usually at least one other person involved, sometimes we need to forgive ourselves — for making a decision that didn’t play out the way we thought it would, or for behaving in a way that we aren’t proud of.
Brenda helps her clients recognize and understand the recurring patterns that cause their suffering. She helps them decipher the stories they’ve made up about things that have happened in their lives because within those stories, there is a great deal of power. When we collapse them, along with our interpretations of them, we can reframe our stories and learn from them. Only then can we move from being a wounded victim to being healed — and free.
My biggest takeaway from our conversation was this: Maybe our heavy moments aren’t happening to us, but rather happening for us.
Every experience or life circumstance has something to teach us — about ourselves or about the world. Even our most heart-breaking experiences carry lessons. Admittedly, it takes a great deal of practice and commitment to change the way we examine those elements of our lives.
But letting go offers us freedom because it gives others permission to be imperfect human beings. (And it gives us permission as well.)
What have been your lessons around forgiveness? Share them with us in the comments below.
Connect with Brenda for help navigating the forgiveness proess: