The Ultimate Gift

What is Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

The stages of Unforgiving Behavior

You don’t jump directly to revenge stage when you are faced with unpleasant situation, First you go through resentment, Which is literally a poison eating your heart from the inside, Resentments embody a basic choice to refuse to forgive, an unwillingness to let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. We review and rehash our painful past, even as we profess to want to let go of it. We do so because we believe the illusion that by belaboring our resentment, we will somehow achieve the justice we believe we are due.
After that you let your negative thoughts populate in your mind and decide to put it into action, which leads eventually to revenge.

The Magical Words

Imagine a conversation when an unpleasant situation occur goes like this: I am so sorry,” I said softly, “Is there anything I can do to fix the situation?”
“No, there’s nothing you can do!”
“Well, let me know if you change your mind,” I said, gently. Then I turned around.
Can you believe how can these simple words change an entire situation from negative to positive ? Never underestimate the power of these word, it has been proven by many people’s experiences that it works. Extinguishe the fire of Anger before it even starts. Keep Practicing these and watch the magic.

The model of forgiveness

Dr. Robert Enright from the University of Wisconsin–Madison founded the International Forgiveness Institute and is considered the initiator of forgiveness studies.

Enright’s forgiveness model has four parts: uncovering your anger, deciding to forgive, working on forgiveness, and discovery and release from emotional prison. All take place through therapist-patient dialogue.

Uncovering anger means examining how you’ve both avoided and dealt with it, The phase involves learning about what forgiveness is and what it’s not, acknowledging that the ways you’ve dealt with your anger up until now haven’t worked, and setting the intention to forgive.

Next, working on forgiveness entails confronting the pain the offense has caused and allowing yourself to experience it fully.

Then working toward developing some level of understanding and compassion for the offender.

The final phase includes acknowledging that others have suffered as you have and that you’re not alone (for some, this means connecting with a support group of people who have endured a similar experience), examining what possible meaning your suffering could have for your life and taking action on whatever you determine to be your life purpose.

Forgiveness and Physical Health

Perhaps the most comprehensive body of evidence showing links between forgiveness and health focuses on mood, says Dr. Frederic Luskin, the cofounder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

“When you don’t forgive you release all the chemicals of the stress response,” Luskin says. “Each time you react, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine enter the body. When it’s a chronic grudge, you could think about it twenty times a day, and those chemicals limit creativity, they limit problem-solving. Cortisol and norepinephrine cause your brain to enter what we call ‘the no- thinking zone,’ and over time, they lead you to feel helpless and like a victim. When you forgive, you wipe all of that clean.”

So don’t hold a grudge and start detoxing your body!

Forgiveness and Mental Health

A 2005 Journal of Behavioral Medicine study showed that forgiveness is associated with a whole range of health measures, including medications taken, sleep quality and fatigue.

The health benefits of forgiveness seem to come largely from its ability to reduce negative affect (feelings of tension, anger, depression and fatigue), researchers found. With forgiveness, “the victim relinquishes ideas of revenge, and feels less hostile, angry, or upset about the experiences,” the University of Tennessee researchers wrote. “The present study suggests that this pathway most fully mediates the forgiveness-health relationship. Thus, health consequences of lack of forgiveness may be carried by increased levels of negative emotion.”

“If there is a causal role between forgiveness and health, then reduction of anger, anxiety, and depression may explain how forgiveness operates on the body,” they added.

Do you want to achieve tranquility? Practice Forgiveness on daily basis.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Can you forgive? Can you reconcile?

You can still forgive. Reconciliation is a separate issue.

The late Lewis B. Smedes wrote: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
Holding a grudge imprisons you. Forgiveness sets you free. In fact, the health benefits of forgiveness are so clear, holding a grudge seems self-destructive by contrast.

Forgiveness is an internal process where you work through the hurt, gain an understanding of what happened, rebuild a sense of safety, and let go of the grudge The offending party is not necessarily a part of this process.

On the other hand, reconciliation is an interpersonal process where you dialogue with the offender about what happened, exchange stories, express the hurt, listen for the remorse, and begin to reestablish trust. It’s a much more complicated, involved process that includes, but moves beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness is solo, reconciliation is a joint venture. Said Smedes: “It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited.”

The point is, the process of forgiveness and reconciliation can be a long, grueling process. Making up may not be possible due to obstacles including participation by the offender. But forgiveness involves only you. Isn’t your emotional and physical health worth it?

Forgiveness Myths

1. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to forget, too. We don’t forgive and forget at all. People who have been terribly abused, neglected, and victimized don’t forget their traumas and they really don’t need to do so. They can learn to forgive, yet remember quite well.

2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re minimizing your victimization experience. By engaging in forgiveness you aren’t saying “it’s okay…it wasn’t that bad.” Not at all! You can forgive yet still admit that the victimization and trauma was very real and very bad.

3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re a chump. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, naivete, or foolishness.

4. Forgiveness doesn’t depend upon the other person apologizing and accepting your offer of forgiveness. Sadly, you cannot expect that the person who wronged you can fully understand or appreciate that what he or she did was wrong. They may never admit that they did anything problematic at all. That’s okay, because you can engage in forgiveness for your own benefit, not theirs. You don’t need anything from them to forgive them.

5. Forgiveness is a process. Forgiveness isn’t an all-or-none, black-or-white kind of thing. It is a process. You may never be able to completely forgive another person but you can work to get closer to do so. You may never get to the 10 on my 10-point forgiveness scale, but you can turn a 6 into a 7 or to 8, True Forgiveness is a Process, more than a Destination. Self healing plays a big role in accelerating the process for your own good.

Forgiveness in Animals

Jasper the bear who taught us humans what is forgiveness, has proven himself as a great go-between. He has become our ambassador of peace at the China sanctuary, not only quelling spats between young bears, but teaching humans that he and his fellows are sentient beings.

When Jasper arrived at Animals Asia’s China sanctuary, in Chengdu, he was dramatically underweight and missing a great deal of fur from years of rubbing against his cage. His teeth were badly worn down from bar biting and he had a metal catheter implanted in his abdomen (for the purpose of extracting bile). In order to free him, we had to cut the 6-foot-tall bear from the tiny cage that held him. This was a “crush cage,” fitted with a metal grill so that Jasper’s body had been flattened to the bottom of it. Because he had been held captive like this for so long, his muscles had wasted away and gone slack.

Following many months of rehabilitation, tasty food, and affection from the Animals Asia staff, the real Jasper emerged. there came a day when Jasper began to swat at straw. This small action was indicative of something much greater. Jasper had begun to do something he had never had the opportunity to do before — to play! As Jasper’s personality continued to emerge, he revealed himself to be our gentle peacemaker, separating other bears who were acting antagonistically towards each other.

Forgiveness in various beliefs

Forgiveness In Judaism: Yom Kippur, the day of forgiveness, it is an opportune time to think about the art of forgiveness. Basically, because it is a mitzvah, a divine command. The Torah explicitly forbids us to take revenge or to bear grudges (Leviticus 19:18). It also commands us, “Do not hate your brother in your heart (ibid. 19:17).
When the Torah (Genesis 37:24) describes the pit into which Joseph was thrown, it states that it was an “empty pit, with no water.” The obvious question is: why the redundancy? Is it not obvious that if the pit was empty, it had no water?
Rashi, in his commentary on the verse, cites the Talmud: “It was empty of water, but full of snakes and scorpions.” Joseph went through this and emerged as the ruler of Egypt.

Forgiveness in Christianity:Forgiveness in the Bible is a prominent theme. Yet, it’s not uncommon for Christians to have questions about forgiveness. The act of forgiving does not come easy for most of us. Our natural instinct is to recoil in self-protection when we’ve been injured. We don’t naturally overflow with mercy, grace and understanding when we’ve been wronged.

Let’s find out what Scripture says about forgiveness.

1. Is forgiveness a conscious choice, or an emotional state?

Forgiveness is a choice we make through a decision of our will, motivated by obedience to God and his command to forgive.
The Bible instructs us to forgive as the Lord forgave us:
Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

2. How do we translate the decision to forgive into a change of heart?

God honors our commitment to obey Him and our desire to please him when we choose to forgive.
He completes the work in his time. We must continue to forgive by faith (our job) until the work of forgiveness (the Lord’s job) is done in our hearts.
Philippians 1:6
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)

3. How will we know if we have truly forgiven?

We will know the work of forgiveness is complete when we experience the freedom that comes as a result. We are the ones who suffer most when we choose not to forgive. When we do forgive, the Lord sets our hearts free from theanger, bitterness, resentment and hurt that previously imprisoned us. Most times, however, forgiveness is a slow process.
Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (NIV)

This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It’s not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart.

4. Is it okay to feel anger and want justice for the person we need to forgive?

This question presents another reason to pray for the person we need to forgive. We can pray for God to deal with the injustices, for God to judge the person’s life, and then we ought to leave that prayer at the altar. We no longer have to carry the anger. Although it is normal for us to feel anger toward sin and injustice, it is not our job to judge the other person in their sin.
Luke 6:37
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.. (NIV).

5. Why must we forgive?

The best reason to forgive is because Jesus commanded us to forgive. We learn from Scripture, if we don’t forgive, neither will we be forgiven:

Matthew 6:14-16
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV). We also forgive so that our prayers will not be hindered

Mark 11:25
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (NIV)

In summary and in closing, we forgive out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do our “forgiving,” we discover the command is in place for our own good, and we receive the reward of our forgiveness, which is freedom.

Forgiveness In Islam: As A Quality Of Allah

Perhaps the biggest reason why a Muslim must adopt forgiveness and forgive people even if he or she is right in taking the revenge is the fact that forgiveness is one of the qualities of Allah Almighty. In Quran, there are numerous qualities of Allah Almigthy are mentioned and forgiveness is one of the dominant one of them. The different names that are used for Allah in Quran that represent His forgiving quality are as follows:

Al-Ghafur -The name ‘Al-Ghafur’ is used more than 70 times in Quran to describe the quality of Allah Almighty. This word can be interpreted as ‘to cover’, ‘to excuse’, ‘to pardon’. All of these words represent forgiveness in one way or another. Thus, Al-Ghafur shows one variation of forgiving quality of Allah Almighty.

Al-Afuw – Al-Afuw is another word that tells the quality of Allah Almighty and it appears a total of five times in Quran. Its meanings are that of ‘to remit’, ‘to release’, and ‘to heal’. All these meanings show that Allah Almighty releases human beings from the burden of their sins by forgiving them. Thus, the word Al-Afuw also represents the quality of forgiveness of Allah Almighty.

Al-Haleem – The word Al-Haleem is used 15 times in Quran for describing Allah Almighty. This word means ‘forbearing’, ‘clement’, ‘lenient’ and ‘mild’. It goes on to show that Allah Almighty is not quick to judge His subjects, rather He is lenient and tries to be mild when it comes to taking a decision against humans or when holding them accountable for something.

Al-Rahman And Al-Rahim – These are most common two names which Muslims use for Allah. Al-Rahman refers to the abundance of mercy of Allah and Al-Rahim refers to the consistency and always presence of the mercy. The former is used 57 times while the latter is used 115 times in Quran to describe Allah the Great.

All these and many more names of Allah shows that His mercy and forgiveness outweighs any of the qualities of wrath and anger that are associated with Him. Therefore, a true believer who believes in Allah Almighty should be quick to understand that if Allah being the Lord of this world can forgive the immense piles of sins of people, then why cant humans forgive each other for trivial mistakes that are nothing compared to what humans commit against the instructions of Allah. Moreover, these names also tell a person that if the Mightiest can be merciful and forgiving, then why cant the ones who have nothing in their power be forgiving and kind.

The Reward Of Forgiveness Is With Allah,In Quran Allah Almighty says:

“The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (42:40)
This ayah is the best remedy for all the major problems of the world of today. What people do is not forgive and not make amends, as a result of which the schism between people increases and they ultimately turn against each other and make lives of each other difficult. Therefore, a Muslim must always take the first step in forgiving and as an outcome of it expect the reward from Allah Almighty. Forgiving like this will be difficult, but if a Muslim keeps an eye on the end reward that will come from the Sublime, then forgiveness becomes easy.

Forgiveness Begets Forgiveness From Allah:

If there is no motive that a person can find in forgiving the other, then the one thing that one can always think about is forgiveness that will come from Allah against the forgiveness that one gives to the other. In Quran, Allah says:
“Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook: do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.” (24:22)
Therefore, the least motive that a Muslim can find for forgiving other people is that Allah Almighty will forgive him or her in return. Ergo, if one does not do it for other people, then one should forgive for the sake of one’s own forgiveness. A Muslim is to think better of Allah. No denying the fact that Allah is Mighty, Just and Wrathful, however, at the same time He is Merciful and Forgiving as well and these qualities of His easily supersede and overweigh the ones associated with wrath. Thus, by learning Quran a Muslim can get the Islamic concept of forgiveness, adopt it in their daily conduct and then pray to Allah Almighty for it as well.It’s a divine act to forgive.

Repentance in Islam

It means forgiving yourself for whatever sins you’ve committed Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.”
Sahih Muslim, 37:6621

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Blessed is he who finds many prayers for forgiveness in his record.” Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 3818 Grade: Sahih (authentic) 

“Ask your Lord for forgiveness and then turn in repentance to Him” [Surat Hud :3] 

The conditions for repentance are well known: 

1. Leaving the sin;
2. Remorse over having committed the sin;
3. Resolve never to return to the sin;
(If it relates to the rights of another person, then to) Return the rights or property one wrongly took. [al-Bariqa fi Sharh al-Tariqa; Riyad al-Salihin] 

Inspirational Forgiveness Stories

South Africa was in sore need of forgiveness after apartheid and Nelson Mandela gave the perfect lesson in how it could be done. Having spent 27 years in prison for trying to end white-minority rule through violence, Mandela became an emblem of peace by reconciling with the individuals who had been the instruments of oppression during his captivity.

1. Mandela invites one of his former jailers to a dinner marking the 20thanniversary of his release from prison.

2. Mandela invites his former prison guard to his inauguration ceremony as South Africa president.

3. Mandela has lunch with the man who tried to have him killed
Who could have imagined that South Africa would be an example of anything but the most awful ghastliness? for God has chosen this unlikely lot and set us up as some kind of paradigm, as some kind of model that just might provide the world with a viable way of dealing with post-conflict, post-repression periods.

Mahatama Gandhi is another famous example of the power of love and forgiveness. His philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance liberated India from British rule.

he is worth highlighting, not just because of his own personal practice of love and forgiveness, but also due to the vast number of people he has inspired to live in a similar way. The Gandhian way of non-violence was rooted in the Indian religions of Jainism and Buddhism, which advocate ahimsa or the “absence of the desire to kill or harm.” For Gandhi, ahimsa was the expression of the deepest love for humans, including one’s enemies. Thus, this type of non-violence included not only a lack of physical harm to them, but also a lack of hatred or ill will.

Gandhi led three great popular movements that eventually wore down the British government, leading to Indian independence. Despite the violence that ensued within each, Gandhi continued to preach and adhere to his definition of ahimsa. He instigated a boycott of British goods and institutions and encouraged mass civil disobedience, which led to his arrest in 1921.Even after periods in jail, being accosted, and the immense pressure he was facing, he continued to fight for Indian independence without the use of violence.

Recipe for Forgivenes

The trouble is, most of us don’t know how to do it. There’s no playbook for forgiveness, no manual for getting past betrayals, disappointments, and hurts, However there are a few steps you can take to overcome whatever injustice casted upon you.

1:Believing in Karma, If you truly believed in this concept , You’ll get to know that whomever treated you poorly, Will face the music one day and that Justice will be served eventually, Sooner or later it’s going to happen, So rest assured and forgive them for your own good.

2:Endowment disguised as Tribulations, Fate works in a mysterious ways, Sometimes people end up winners from setbacks, Based on my personal experience if I haven’t failed in college for one year , I wouldn’t have met some of whom I call now my best friends, ” Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Quote said by Soren Kierkegaard ,So accepting this fact, makes you more tending to forgive people because you never know what good can happen tomorrow.for people who believe in God they know that “The greater the hardship, or trial or tribulation the greater the reward.” Look at obstacles as stepping stones.

3:Understand that things could have gone worse, Take your time , Analyze the situation carefully and you shall find that it could have gone worse for you , At least you are not dead ! , Seeing other’s hardship, Gives you feeling of acceptance of the current situation which is crucial towards the process of forgiveness.

4: Understanding others on the path of forgiveness , Now let’s be clear on this point, Trying to understand why someone did this or that is totally different than justification of the act itself, It just help you to gain more depth about one question. Why did this happen to me ? , Could I have behaved differently to avoid such situation in the future ? This level of Analytical Thinking gives you the edge in the future. Humans are molded through experiences – whether it’s bad or good -It’s your attitude that makes the difference! But what if you haven’t done any harm to anyone and you faced severe injustice , When everyone around you betrays you , Know that God will never Disappoint you, Just raise your hands in supplication, Whomever with God ,who can defeat them?

5: Let some steam out, And Vent ! Talk to your best friend,Parents or Brothers and sisters about what happened to you, Consider it a free session at any therapist, Some of them just fake they are paying attention and make a sympathetic smile and nod their heads saying the famous question ” how does this makes you feel ?” Then prescribe sedatives to you. More than half of therapy is about emotional support. So find in your circle someone you can trust and talk about it, Believe me you will feel better and at the end of the conversation you will be more forgiving.

6: Forgiveness is not a two-way conversation, Learn to accept an unspoken apology you never heard! Some people are so full of themselves and have too much pride to apologize, Notice their actions after they treated you unfairly, If you noticed only a little of 10% of a positive change towards you, Accept their silent apology, Whomever forgives people lives a more happy life.

7: Appreciate yourself and your emotions, What does this mean ? It simply means that hatred towards a certain person will lower you to their declining level of ethics, Meaning that if you are an emotional person that they doesnt deserve your tears, Not a single moment of your time to think about them, Hold your head up high King or Queen.

Conclusion:

The Ultimate Gift you can give to yourself is Forgiveness, Forgive others so you can live a more healthy life, Forgive others so you can move on in your life, Forgive others so God forgive you as well, Forgive others so you can (INSERT A CONDITION) I Think you are capable of doing so after reading such long article….. Forgiving another person is one of best things you can do for yourself. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it will take a long time, but you’ll be glad you did it. Let out whatever emotions you need to, give yourself time to heal, and unload that baggage. You still have a long journey ahead and you don’t need that extra weight.Free yourself from that cage , Be Free!

References:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness#Forgiveness_and_Physical_Health
http://www.salon.com/2015/08/24/the_science_of_forgiveness_when_you_dont_forgive_you_release_all_the_chemicals_of_the_stress_response/
http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/How-to-Forgive-Others-Health-Benefits-of-Forgiveness-Fred-Luskin
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-the-right-thing/201403/7-rules-forgiveness
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201303/forgiveness-vs-reconciliationm
http://www.quranreading.com/blog/learn-quran-to-realize-the-importance-of-forgiveness-in-islam/
http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/bibleforgivenes.htm
http://m.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1619314/jewish/The-Art-of-Forgiveness.htm
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-robinson-mbe-drmedvet-hc/cruelly-farmed-for-their-bile_b_3156207.html
http://m.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/1620467/jewish/Saying-Im-Sorry.htm
http://lifehacker.com/how-to-forgive-someone-who-has-wronged-you-1671192403
The Greater The Hardship The Greater The Reward : Abu Uwais Abdullaah Ali
http://www.sol.com.au/kor/19_03.htm
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nelson-mandela-forgiveness-south-africa-apartheid-528153
http://www.beyondintractability.org/lfg/exemplars/mgandhi
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repentance_in_Islam

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