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Dear Lifelines: Previously Unforgiving

Dear Lifelines,

I used to be such a bitter person because of some things people did to me in the past. Now my life is changing. I feel like now I’m in control of my my anger. I wish more people could choose to use forgiveness to heal. It has made a huge difference in my life and the lives of people I’m around.

Previously Unforgiving

Dear Presently Forgiving,

We are glad you took the time to write in and share your thoughts with us. We can learn a lot from you! Most of us will understand that forgiveness is not always an easy process as many of us struggle with it for long periods of time holding grudges, avoiding people or events, or coping with anger and hurt. Others find the process a natural shift in their thinking and it may just happen for them as they open up to different possibilities and ways of thinking.

The first step is awareness that we even have thoughts or emotions about someone, something or some uncontrollable event. Often it takes time to just get to a place where we can consider seeing things from different perspectives. Some of us need time to grieve or allow ourselves to acknowledge the fact that there even is pain in our lives. For every person, there will be a different reaction. There is no one way to feel or react, so we should avoid judging ourselves for that. Feelings and emotions don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to be logical. They just are what they are. Sometimes it’s hard to tell as we keep busy or create other disruptions in our lives and avoid being still so we don’t have to sit and reflect on those painful feelings. Although we can choose some ways that we respond to bad things that happen in our lives, it’s exhausting to control every aspect of our emotions, physical responses and mental thoughts. This type of emotional exhaustion can lead to destructive outlets like addictions and damaging behaviour creating even more challenges for us.

Many have found forgiveness to be one freeing way to escape from the ongoing struggle of anger, resentment and hurt. It’s a way to essentially take control back. However, you are in no way agreeing with what happened or making it acceptable. As people say – you can’t change the past, but you can choose the way you respond to it. You can take control of this concept of forgiveness and think about if, how and when you want to forgive. You can decide what that will look like (will you meet with the person? Write a note and share it? Or will it be more symbolic with you writing down your thoughts and feelings and then burning those notes in the fireplace or tearing them up and putting them in the garbage?) Perhaps as you make these decisions you will even find some power in having choices about the steps you take. It’s all up to you, but talking with trusted friends or support groups can have an enormous impact as well.

Next month we will explore more aspects of forgiveness! Feel free to send in any reflections and thoughts to us.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.


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