This post is part of a series on Caregiver Strength. You can read the first post, Caregiver Strength – Patience, here.
There are many “muscles” that caregivers need to make their journey easier. So far, we've discussed the importance of patience and determination. Both of these strengths are necessary, and I hope you've had time to reflect a little on them. But of all the strengths caregivers need (so many more than we could possibly cover), one stands above them all.
Some people are lucky enough to be natural forgivers. Everything rolls off their back, and they tend to see the good in the worst of situations. I am not one of these people; I struggle with this “F” word. This isn't to say that I’m ruthless or uncompassionate; I just have to practice and remind myself of a few things.
If you’re like me, and letting go of the times you've been hurt is difficult, let me share the bits of wisdom I've learned along the way.
• Choosing to not forgive someone gives us permission to live in the past. How many times have you replayed the event in your head? How many times have you told the story of the wrongdoing to your friends? Are you still kicking yourself because of what you should have said? If there is anything parachute pants, spiral perms, and polyester have taught us, it’s that living in the past is never a good look.
• Forgiveness isn't an offering to the person who wronged us. Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation, and it certainly doesn't mean you excuse the behavior that hurt you. In fact, forgiveness isn't about anyone but you. Just like a pint of your favorite ice cream, forgiveness is a way to sooth your hurt soul – it just has fewer calories.
• Forgiveness is good for your health. When you picture the event that angered you, or when you tell the story, how do you feel? Does your heart beat faster? Does your breathing change? Can you feel the toxic pressure building inside of you? All of this negativity creates a depression that impacts you physically, mentally, and spiritually. You've heard it over and over – you have to take care of yourself. And the good news is that forgiving requires no cardio!
I’m not going to lie, forgiving isn't always easy. And if I’m really honest, sometimes it feels good to hold onto it. But that rush is short-lived, and then the hurt comes back. That’s when I have to remind myself that forgiving truly is a gift to me. And if there’s one thing I like, it’s a gift. Now if I can just figure out how to put a pretty bow on it…
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