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Forgiveness: Is It Really Necessary and What Happens If I Can't Do It?

Updated: 24 hours ago


This week, 'Therapy Begins with T(ea)' steeps on what it means to forgive & offers a full body check-in to practice moving from grudges towards forgiveness.


how to forgive  holding a grudge

Therapy Begins with T(ea) is a weekly newsletter based on the themes that come up in my sessions as a therapist who specializes in conflict & attachment in romantic relationships, shame & imposter syndrome, and our psychological relationships with money. Each week consists of a 'steep' in thought reflection, an accompanying body based check-in, and tea card intentions for the week to come. Its intended use is for educational purposes only and is not a replacement for individualized medical or mental health treatment.




'Steep' in Thought (3-5 min)



'But what if I don't want to forgive?'


Forgiveness isn’t actually about accepting an apology or making amends, despite what we’re taught growing up. It may include those acts, but, at its core, forgiveness is not about reconciliation -- it’s about letting go of the resentment we’ve been carrying. A molotov cocktail of anger, disappointment, and disgust, resentment seeps deep into our bones & bellies, ready to ignite at any moment we’re reminded of the past wrong that’s been done to us (I’m sure you know the feeling). When we don’t forgive (i.e. release), all that negative energy gets packaged into what we know as a grudge.


I’ve had my own fair share of avoiding forgiveness (I still do) and sometimes it feels like there’s no incentive to do it -- that, if anything, forgiveness would be accepting the mistreatment & the wrong done to us (this is especially hard if it’s never even been unacknowledged by the wrongdoer). But this isn’t about them; this is about us. Because the cost of not forgiving, of holding a grudge, is that we stay stuck.





Releasing Resentment, getting out of 'stuck'

Forgiveness, first and foremost, benefits us. It allow us to heal and move forward, to relate closely again, to experience the warmth of intimacy. It even allows us to have a more positive, loving relationship with ourselves. Forgiveness as ‘a letting go of resentment’ can (and probably should) still include boundary setting. It doesn’t mean that we have to feel fondly towards the specific person who hurt us, or that we numb ourselves from any feeling at all, but more that we feel fondly enough towards ourselves to detach from the heavy burden of a grudge, to set down that backpack filled with bricks.


Forgiveness (or its absence) shows itself when we’re reminded of the wronging, when it comes back up. And when we feel that hurt, do we focus on soothing and comforting ourselves or do we feed into it more? Do we feel that separation of our present Self reparenting the younger version of us who was harmed or are we right back in the past, feeling everything all over again? And if we decided to repair the relationship, when we’re reminded of the hurt, do we focus on regulating ourselves or do we weaponize it back onto them? Is the price of not forgiving worth it? Only you can decide that.


If you want to practice moving from grudge to forgiveness & feeling that separation of Self and part, try this week’s full body check-in.







Full Body Check-In (2-4 min)




Forgiving



Inhale slow, exhale slower. Breathe in through your nose, noticing how your body expands with the breath. As you let it go out through your mouth, feel what parts of your body change and adjust on the exhale. Try focusing on one specific area of your body -- your chest, your back, your lower belly, your feet. Choose one and follow it as you breathe in and out. Let it be your anchor today. Repeat this cycle of breath 5-7 times before continuing.



On your next inhale, think of a memory where you were hurt/wronged by someone. As you exhale, invite it forward. Visualize it as if you’re watching it like a movie. This scene has probably played out in your mind before, but instead of focusing on the wrong or the wrongdoer, focus on the past version of You in this memory. Observe them. The look on their face or how they carry their body in this memory scene. How do you feel towards them? In this memory, in this moment of pain, what do they need? What comfort? What support? What empathy? Can you offer it to yourself now? Connect with that past You.



By focusing on what we need, and giving it, we move our energy towards that past version of us and away from the grudge, from the wrong itself. This is how we work to forgive.




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