The power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a difficult process- if it was easy we wouldn’t revere those iconic people like Madiba, and Mahatma Gandhi. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

We all need forgiveness, because we all belong to the human race. This means that, no matter how perfect we think we are, we WILL have hurt someone along the way. We have all hurt someone at some time. So we all will need to ask for forgiveness, or forgive someone for the hurt they have caused us.
When we have been unjustly hurt we are outraged, angry, resentful, full of a need to exact revenge, we want to hurt them as much, if not more, than they have hurt us. These are the feelings of un-forgiveness and they are corrosive. This emotional toxicity resides in our cells, becomes our biology, leading to imbalance and illness. It destroys relationships, we are filled with remorse of what might have been…all possible good is flushed away and our ego driven need to teach them a lesson….but at what cost ? Wars cost billions every year- what is your un-forgiveness costing you, what has it cost you in the past; and, if nothing changes, what does your future look like? Paint the picture for yourself! According to Nelson Mandela “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
It keeps us tied to the person who hurt us, and gives them the power over us. We are thinking of the hurt, the pain – and we are consumed with the destructive spiral of anger, and resentment which has a negative impact on our physical, mental and emotional health. Thoughts of how we can get them back, or how much pain we are in, control our thoughts; but are the perpetrators even giving you so much as a single thought? Most of the time they may be totally unaware of the pain they have caused- and here are you stressing about it, poisoning yourself; and they are happily living their lives with not even a second thought about you.
Let’s look at what forgiveness is NOT – it doesn’t mean to forget, it doesn’t mean you have to condone, or claim that “it was nothing and I’m ok”, it is not weakness (but rather takes enormous courage and internal strength), it does not take the place of the justice system, it is not easy and finally, it doesn’t relieve the perpetrators of responsibility for what they have done.

We were born social and loving people. Our brain is hard wired to love and connect according to neurosurgeon Ian Weinberg. When disconnection and hurt have occurred, our essential nature wants to restore that relationship so that we can continue to Live in love and harmony. Forgiveness is the tool we can use to repair the damage and give peace to OURSELVES, and hopefully others.

Research is showing that forgiveness transforms us mentally, emotionally spiritually and physically
We can choose the revenge cycle, or the healing cycle of forgiveness. We don’t have to remain powerless in our victim mode- angry, full of pain, disempowered, toxic to ourselves and others. We can choose our path, so let’s challenge ourselves to choose the more difficult, but by far the more rewarding journey, of forgiving those that have harmed and hurt us. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. If we allow the other person to retain their dignity, hopefully they will ‘pay it forward’, and forgive someone else.

Once we have forgiven, we can choose to either continue in the relationship by re building or renewing a NEW relationship, OR choosing to end the relationship. But either way you are giving both yourself and the other person the freedom.

As a country South Africa shocked the world which stood by and watched in awe, as we averted the expected bloodbath in 1994. The expectation was a racial bloodbath. We introduced the concept of the TRC to the world. But as individuals many if us still remain imprisoned in the shackles of unforgiveness. Let’s do personally, what the TRC did for us as a country!
Most often we talk about forgiving others, but one of the most difficult things to do is to forgive ourselves for what we have done, and release our souls of the terrible burden of guilt, anger and toxic self -judgement. We can forgive for ourselves. Maybe this is where we should start?
I challenge you: Let’s start your own little ripple of forgiveness, and let’s start changing our world, one little ripple at a time, until it becomes a tsunami wave, leaving the world a different place. Let’s aim for a new improved version of ourselves and our world. Release yourself from the bondage of Un-forgiveness! Let’s make ourselves feel proud of ourselves…let’s take that first step of forgiveness today!
Wonderful reads on forgiveness include “The book of Forgiving” by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho, and “I shall not hate” by Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish.
Cherri Forsyth is a Life Coach in Hilton. For more details about Cherri take a look at her website: or contact her on or cell 082 801 8961.