I am encouraged by your statement that I can reduce my sadness and anger even if I have held these for many years. Yet, I have another question. These feelings now are part of my own identity, who I am as a person. I know that might sound a little odd, but it is scary to think of changing. Can you help me with that?
Change can be scary, especially when it breaks a long-standing pattern. We have seen that people find it hard to make a commitment to forgive because of change; the change itself is the initial challenge. Yet, my question to you is this: What might your new identity be like as you forgive and change? You might change to these kinds of views of yourself:
- I am someone who does not harm others;
- I can be a conduit for good in my family;
- I can bear pain and as I stand up to that pain, I am strong;
- I am beginning to love more deeply.
These kinds of views of yourself can assist you in a healthier identity and in aiding others in their pain. The new identity, you may find, is more friendly than the old one.
For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.
Our research tells us that the decision to forgive is the most difficult. I think it is because, for those who have rarely practiced forgiving, this is a large transition in their lives. They are walking through a door, the forgiveness door, that offers something new. Change can be difficult for many people and this change, in beginning to see an offending person in entirely new ways, can lead to doubt and even to a reworking of one’s own identity (Who am I now that I am starting to practice forgiveness?).