Forgiveness

Episode #59

Forgiveness is one of those things we all need but it can also be so hard to give. Everyone of us has been on the receiving end of either intentional or unintentional pain by another. The words “I forgive you” may come easy but true forgiveness in our heart? Well, that’s a different story. In today’s episode, we talk about the effects that an unforgiving heart can have on our bodies as well as practical steps you can take to reach true forgiveness in your heart so you can be free from the pain once and for all.


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Ashley
You’re listening to the rise up and shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley. As an empty nester and a mom with young kids, we have both shared very similar and very real struggles. From chaos to coaches, we now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the rise up and shine podcast.

Welcome back friends. Well today we are in for a doozy. I like to think today we’re gonna be talking about forgiveness. Now forgiveness is something that we have all been given. Hopefully, it is also something that we all need to give to others. And there’s a lot that goes into forgiveness, it really could trigger us. When we think about forgiving someone, some people, it may be easier to forgive some people, it may be very difficult to forgive them and but today we want to break it down because it really can impact our well being and that is why we are here. That is why Claudine and I are here every week to talk with you guys about your well being because we want to live our best life we want to rise up and shine. And forgiveness is a huge factor of that. So we’re really going to break it down today guys about really taking a look at ourselves, checking in with ourselves. And we’re gonna offer some great practicals right out this episode, to learn how we can forgive rise, it may not come easy to you. I used to think it was easy for me to forgive. But as we’ll share a little bit later, I realized oh, maybe not so much. What do you think Claudine?

Claudine
I was the opposite. I thought it was hard to forgive because for me, forgiveness felt like I wasn’t protecting myself or I wasn’t. You know, I was like gonna put myself in more hurt if I forgave. But you know. The Webster defines forgiveness as to give up resentment. And so it’s interesting, really, when we forgive. It’s not even the other person. I mean, they have done the action that’s hurt us, or betrayed us. But we’re giving up the resentment that we hold within us. So when we forgive is really healing and like you said, we can’t rise up and shine if we’re holding on to bitterness and resentment. And surely the Scriptures teach us that. But science has a lot to say about this as well. And so I thought I’d start off with a few things that forgiveness isn’t.
So forgiveness is not a denial of what happened, right? We think, well, if I forgive this person, then it’s like erasing what happened. Right. It is not weakness. You’re not a doormat, right? Many of us women, we don’t want to be doormats and just say oh, I forgive you. And then the person does it again. And that’s our fear, right? If we forgive someone, they’ll continue to do that behavior. It does not mean forgetting, it does not right? Does not diminish.

Ashley
Forgive and forget. That doesn’t really work out. Well. Does it work out for you?


Claudine
No, they’re two separate things forgive and forget. It does not diminish the wrong done against us. Right. And it does not require an apology. Now that’s an interesting one, right? Because I think for many of us, we feel like well forgive them when they say they’re sorry. But that’s not what true forgiveness is it can happen regardless of an apology is being made. The other thing is not to confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. Reconciliation is to restore the relationship. And so you can forgive someone and still have boundaries set up and not necessarily restore the relationship depending on you know, what was done.

Ashley
But you know, you think about it, reconciliation takes two. To have both parties in the relationship. Forgiveness only takes one.

Claudine
That’s exactly right. Ashley, that’s so powerful. And when we hold a grudge or resentment builds up, we ruminate over the offense. Right? I know you’re going to talk about this later. But this is how our brains work, right? We just keep thinking about it. We keep thinking about the wrong that’s been done us. And we remain a prisoner to our pain. And we harm our brains and our bodies by doing that. So that’s why today is so important. Because if we really do want to be well and we want to heal, we have to learn the importance of forgiveness and how to do it.

Ashley
Claudine exactly what you said we keep ourselves in the pain of the event. When that person we keep reliving it as if it’s still happening. Because we are allowing ourselves to stay in those negative thought spirals, you know those negative thought patterns, about the situation and about this person. And I recognize that for myself when I had an issue with someone And if I saw a text message from them, it would trigger me all over again. And I will feel the pain again. So any interaction anytime I saw the person or, you know, heard about the person or was going to see a person, it was like reliving that pain all over again. And that’s where I recognize the power of this forgiveness, because I thought, Well, yeah, I feel like I forgive them. Like, I feel like I always forgive someone before it. But I learned it’s my codependency. I just want everything to be good. Sure, I forgive you. Sure. Okay.

Claudine
You just brushed it under the rug.


Ashley
I just brushed it under. Yes, I brushed under the doormat, and I was the doormat. But that’s exactly what was happening. I didn’t necessarily forgive because I was still holding on to the pain. I kept myself in the victim mentality, because of where my head was because of how I thought about the situation. And yeah, I may have said those words, you know, in myself, like, I forgive you, not necessarily to the person. There’s not much reconciliation there. But I told myself, I do forgive them. Let’s move on. But I didn’t move on. Right. That’s why we want to talk about this, because we’ve learned these things. And we need to release ourselves from that pain and not allow ourselves to be stuck there. Because there’s a lot of damage and harm that happens to our own bodies. Our physical bodies are emotional, mental well being.

Claudine
Yeah, yeah. When we don’t forgive, it can affect our memory, our work performance, and it continues on us our path of negative emotions, we just feel bad. Even though like intellectually, you can say I forgive you. But if we have not truly forgiven from the heart, if we haven’t dealt with those emotions, they stay there. And then we wonder why we don’t feel well. We wonder why we just feel down or tired. Right? Because those negative emotions sap our energy, and if we don’t process them, they stay they reside in our bodies.

Ashley
Oh, absolutely. And that’s what I learned as well that I want to share with our listeners that when I was going through counseling in my own healing, and I learned, I, you know, I just thought we’ll just move on, just move on from the traumas that I experienced move on, I thought, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Well, moving on is one aspect, but processing, in letting go is a key component. And when you don’t do that, then you can’t fully move on, you know, you move on, in theory, but all that pain is still trapped inside, you know, and it it affected my memory, it affected my focus it affected a lot of areas affected my relationships.

Claudine
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny, because you were talking about your thoughts. But when we don’t forgive, we can’t even think about the situation neutrally or naturally anymore, the body reacts. And we feel that stress, like it’s just happening again, like you mentioned, and so who wants to keep reliving, you know, and, and healthy and unhappy memory. But that’s what we’re doing when we don’t forgive. And then yeah, our brains release the stress, chemicals, cortisol and norepinephrine. And that’s the fight or flight. So we’re constantly in this state. So we’re constantly in this state of fight or flight, and we may not feel like it. But if you’re feeling down, if you’re feeling tired, these are some of the reasons because your body is producing these neurotransmitters, these stress chemicals, because you’re holding on to some negative emotions and or negative thoughts about the events in your life.

Ashley
And here’s a good indicator, if you ask yourself, if you take an honest look and ask yourself, has someone ever told you you’re sensitive? Do I feel a little bit more sensitive? And I learned that I thought, well, there’s a reason for it. It’s not just there’s a reason for it. So we may be more sensitive, because we are in that fight or flight mode right much more often. And we’re on constant alert, that part of the brain is on constant alert and looking for any other attack or threat or potential pain, you know exactly why it resembles and then just like you said, you get the flood of emotions or the flood of like you said, you get the flood of hormones, and it keeps us just in that state, that emotional state of reacting, ya know, and being overreacting.

Claudine
And the funny thing is, when we don’t forgive someone, we remain attached to that person who’s heard it. It’s a negative attachment for now attach. So forgiveness is a total release. It’s a release of the resentment but it’s a release of the attachment. It’s a release of the negative emotions. It’s a release of the negative thoughts. It’s very freeing. But not so easy, right?

Ashley
When you think about it, it’s almost as if it’s a power. Yeah, no, it’s if we don’t forgive this person or we still hold this grudge against this person, it’s almost like having this power over that person that I’m not gonna let you do that again. You know, you cannot hurt me again. But it’s a false power, we are actually keeping ourselves as the victim and giving them the power our right to still allow us to feel the way we’re feeling to feel that pain, that anger, that resentment, that bitterness, what have you that hostility? You know, we are giving them that power. And let’s take the power back people to get power back.

Claudine
Yeah, it’s hard to rise up and shine when you’re powerless and, you know, depressed very hard.

Ashley
So Claudine, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits and also some of the harm that can happen on our bodies and our well being.

Claudine
Okay, well, some of the benefits of course, we’ve kind of already touched on but is that freedom, you will automatically feel better both mentally, and emotionally and physically, once we release that resentment release that negative thought about the hurt, once we enter the state of forgiveness, we are mentally emotionally and physically better off.

Ashley
Right, you’ll feel more peace?

Claudine
Absolutely.

Ashley
That’s right. And some more things that are benefits when we do choose to fully forgive and process through the pain is it decreases the risk of heart attack, it has a huge toll on our bodies as well. And as we mentioned earlier, it also can decrease our blood pressure. Now, it also can improve our blood pressure, it can decrease the risk of anxiety and depression and even the severity of it. And that’s what I experienced it the reaction, I haven’t felt depressed in a few years now, because of working through some of these traumas that I didn’t fully process. Yeah, it also can improve our cholesterol, our sleep, think about it, when you’re holding stressed and it wakes you up at night. It can also reduce pain, physical pain, it could be emotional pain, definitely the emotional pain. And also, like we mentioned earlier, it keeps us in that fight or flight. And so those hormones are constantly flooding through. And that can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, we already said depression and anxiety. Yeah, and all in all, it just exasperates that stress response of our body because we’re on constant alert, right?

Claudine
And let’s talk about the spiritual significance of forgiving. I mean, as Christians, if we don’t forgive, how can we expect to be forgiven or turn that around, we who are forgiven, are expected to do the same for others to forgive them, it would be rather hypocritical, to not forgive those who have sinned against us when we certainly have been forgiven of a great deal. So that was a huge motivation for me when I understood the great length that God had gone to forgive me for all the things I had done, it became much easier for me to turn around and forgive others. But on a spiritual level, how do we grow? How do we really be conformed to likeness of Christ? If we don’t learn how to forgive? And give it freely. So one of the things since we’ve touched on how important it is to forgive all the reasons it benefits us, let’s talk about some practicals. Ashley, because, you know, again, I didn’t know how to forgive. For me, when my friends hurt me in high school, or even my early adult years, I would just cut them off. Like, okay, we’re done. Like you hurt me. We’re done. That’s not the most effective way to go through adulthood is cutting off everyone who’s ever hurt you no matter what the offense? Why, or you know, even in this day and age, I can find myself well, you haven’t called me back. I’ve called you three times. I guess we’re not friends anymore. And of course, now, my prefrontal cortex is more developed. I’m like, No, we’re friends. Maybe something’s really going on with my friend. Maybe I should check on them. So let’s talk about the practicals.
I think the first one is to acknowledge the pain. Like you said, sweeping it under the rug is not effective. I mean, it’s a great time to journal it or sit with someone that you trust that you’re close to acknowledge the pain. This is what happened. stay neutral. Again, stay not neutral, but stay with the facts like this is what happened. This happened. This was said this was done and this is how I felt. You know, really get specific Think about the pain and damages caused you.

Ashley
That’s that’s a great point. Because I think so many of us, that’s what keeps us from processing our emotions and the events that we experience. And it could still keep a hold on our life. Because we tend to move on, and we tend to ignore it, you know, we tend to just, well, I’m not going to think about it anymore. And you’d think that that would be helpful, but we forget that it doesn’t go anywhere. Yeah, if we don’t process and say hey, I felt really angry about this. It’s okay. Because we think that we shouldn’t be angry or frustrated. And we don’t want to stay in those emotional spaces. But we do need to acknowledge that I felt hurt. I felt angry when this person did I felt righteous. When this happened. I felt you know, feel it. It’s important to feel our emotions in order for them to go away. And if you keep trying to push it, push it aside, is going to keep trying to pop up. any situation. Right. We know that from experience is going to keep trying to rear its ugly head until we feel it and deal with it.

Claudine
Yeah, I’m laughing because it reminds me of housework. You know, there’s sometimes you just don’t want to deal with housework. And so you just hide it, you know, like time? door? Yeah, like that one room and you’re like, I can’t deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it. So I’ll just close the door. Because if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist, right? That’s true. The problem is it does exist, and it’s still there. And your brain knows it’s still there. And it’s going to have to be tackled one day or another. I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know what maybe hoarders think they’re just not dealing with anything any of the time. But anyway, usually, it was just one room or one drawer, if I was in a really good place was just one drawer. But acknowledge the pain. Yeah. So can’t you can’t close the door on your pain. I guess that’s the takeaway. Don’t close the door on your pain. acknowledge it, open the door. Feel it, feel it. The second one is empathy, which is really trying to see how the other person possibly could have done this. For me. I’ve said for years and years hurting people hurt others. I figured this out many years ago, and it totally helped me. When someone is hurting you. They’re not in a great place. Honestly, like who that is filled with love and light hurts people. No one, no one, but you’re filled with love and light and you’re doing great. You’re not hurting people intentionally or accidentally because you’re coming from a place of love and light. But so for me to really take on like, what could that person possibly been going through themselves that they would say something like that, or they would do something like that? To me, and obviously, usually more hurt. When it’s someone close to us. If a stranger. I’m walking down the street and a stranger says something negative to me, I don’t, there’s no need to forgive. I’m like, well, they’re crazy. They don’t even know me. But it’s usually someone close to us that causes us the pain. And we have higher expectations, which you know, that could be a whole nother podcast, but we have expectations of those close to us, like you will not hurt me. But really trying to get into the other person’s shoes. And you know, what story? Do we tell ourselves? Are we the victim in this story? Because usually, when we have to forgive where the victim, right? Is the perpetrator, possibly a victim? I mean, what’s going on in them that they felt the need to say something hurtful or do something hurtful? That’s really how they behave the way they behave. Right? Like, don’t they know better? I know better. They should know better. And don’t they care? But we tell ourselves stories like well if they love me, they wouldn’t do that, especially in marriage, right? I mean, how many stories can we tell ourselves about our spouse? Well.

Ashley
Oh, my gosh yes, then you start compairing. And then just get yourself in a really bad place.

Claudine
I don’t think he loves me, this marriage is a sham, you know, we’re like.

Ashley
I’m not gonna make him dinner anymore. You know he likes it.

Claudine
Yeah. And of course, none of that works out very well. That’s not who we’re choosing to be. But those thoughts that we have those thoughts. So empathy has been really powerful for me just trying to see what could that person possibly be? And sometimes I just know, like, I know, in certain situations in my own life, that the people who have done me, you know, some hurt or done things that really hurt me or someone I love. They are limited, like, they just don’t have the know how they don’t. That was the best they could do. I mean, it’s sad, but that was the best they could do at the time. I’m like, you know, it is sad. That was your best. But that’s just where they are and accepting that people. Not everyone’s where we think they should be right.

Ashley
Yeah. Expectation well, and to have the perspective that we’re all imperfect, right, you know, in varying degrees yet in varying areas, but we all are human, we all are imperfect, we all have gone through our own experiences that have kind of helped cultivate who we become. Yeah. And therefore that other person, whoever they may be, also went through their own experiences. Yeah. And this is how they became, you know, and just keeping the mind the mindset that it’s, we’re just all imperfect, we’re doing the best we can, like you said, some things just seem like common sense. That you figure, okay, I guess, but they’re only going to experience the life. You know? Yeah. So they’re only going to have to say, their life is going to be filled with those experiences based on how they’re behaving. So they may not feel the love and the light in their life because of certain choices they’re making.

Claudine
Absolutely. Another practical is choose to forgive. It’s a choice. Like, we’d like to think that forgiveness is a feeling right? Well, I’ll forgive them when I feel like it. Well, our feelings come from our thoughts. So we have to have the thought I’m choosing it’s a choice, right? We can make to forgive, I want to cancel the debt. And that’s what it was. And in essence, I read an article the other day that this, I think it was, yeah, it was a doctor that he forgave, like, hundreds of 1000s of debt, his clinic was closing. And he just forgave all his patients with outstanding debt. He just forgave it. And I thought, that’s so powerful, just that feeling when you’re forgiven, like I have had debt forgiven. And it’s powerful, how much more wrong or wrong that we’ve done to someone where they say, I forgive you, and you just feel so forgiven. It’s just powerful. But it is a choice. We have to think it in order to do it, and then to feel it. But it starts with a choice. And the other practical for me is again, and I’ve touched on it is lean on God’s grace. I mean, I have to go back to my list of what God’s forgiven me of, you know, and it’s powerful to read the scriptures and see all the things where I had quote, unquote, sin, I’d fallen short and hurt God. And when I remember that, when I get in touch with who I am, apart from him, it’s really easy to forgive others. their trespasses against me right. Like that prayer fun when we were young, at least when I was young, forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us. And I remember that it’s a two way street, God forgives us, but we have to turn around and give it and sometimes we do have to lean on God’s grace. Like he’s given us His grace. And I need to lean on that to give the same grace to others because it’s not easy. It’s not my flesh for sure. I’m not in my nature super forgiving. I’d rather be alone and protect and cocoon and, you know, block everybody out. But I can’t as a Christian woman can’t live that way. And certainly not if I want to rise up and shine and live life to the full. I can’t be my best cocooned safe and cocooned in my house. I think we call that depression when I went through that for a couple of years, right? So those are my practicals that have really helped me.

Ashley
Well, and I will share practicals that have helped me as well. And it’s very specific to each thought that pops up. Right. So that scripture in Second Corinthians 10:5, take every thought captive and make them obedient to Christ. So I knew that, okay take every thought. Wow that sounds so poetic. I like that. Okay. And I just was mostly focusing on making sure you know, have pure thoughts and think positive and see the good and people be loving and generous. And, but when it came to people who I felt have hurt me, then that didn’t really come so easily. Like, there are a lot of thoughts swirling around those circumstances. And it I mean, we have millions of thoughts millions or 1000s a day.

Claudine
So many.

Ashley
Yeah, we have 1000s, who knows maybe millions of thoughts a day, right? And to take our thoughts captive is not easy work. It takes practice but in specific situations. It is. It’s powerful. It really is powerful to help with moving on and processing. So this was how I processed I’ve done research on this i’ve you know, kind of formulated my own little list that I wanted to share of here are specific practicals and steps you can take to process through your pain and move on from that. move on from that hurt. So the first thing and you touched on as well is acknowledge the pain that you felt. Because this is what I learned that I did not do. As I mentioned earlier, I just kind of will just keep moving on, keep moving on, just be tough, be strong, keep moving on. But that’s not processing, it’s get stuck in our subconscious. And those emotions that we don’t process get stuck in ourselves. And that’s how our cells get sick, and we get sick, and you know, all that stuff. And so to acknowledge that, hey, this is how I felt when this person said that or when this situation happened, I felt really hurt, I don’t understand I felt really hurt. And just feel it, you know, go ahead, it’s okay to feel whatever the emotion bring. If you feel angry about it, then feel angry about it. But then we move forward. And the next step is stop the dialogue in our heads. This is where we actually take the thoughts captive, you stop that rumination of this person said that and then I did that, and they you know, and then you start circling on not just the facts, but your opinions on that person and opinions on the situation that have, and you just keep thinking and thinking and thinking and you focus on it all day long, and you can’t focus on anything else. And you know, and this is where it affected my memory, it affected my relationships that affected everything. Because I would get stuck and sit and just think about this situation or this person, and how dare they and how dare they say this to me or how you know, and it just brings up a whole flood of emotions on top of what I was already feeling, right? So maybe I was feeling sad. Well, now I’m feeling really angry.

Claudine
And then you’re just paving those neural pathways everytime you think it, you’re just paving it make it stronger, and stronger and stronger.

Ashley
And every time you see the person or every time their name pops up on your phone, anytime you see them on social media, just those flood of emotions get, you know, triggered again. So stop that rant that goes on in your mind. And also, not just in your own head. But how you talk to others. are you complaining about this person to others? Are you there’s a situation where we had a roommate that was living with us, and the only conversation my husband and I would have was about this person, right? Because I was around them all the time. And I was really struggling and I had so much, you know, I was so frustrated. Talking about well, this happened today. And then that happened today in that and right. He was like I can we talk about anything else. But you get so fixated right when we allow it to go on in our heads. And the next thing we need to do is to refocus our attention, right? So we stopped that dialogue, we write those thoughts captive, make them obedient to Christ, make sure that we’re not you know, punishing the person right in our own heads or, you know, out loud as well, but refocus our attention. And this is what you touched on is having more compassion on the person. Yeah, seeing, you know, where they came from, you know, hey, they probably got to this point in their life because of their childhood or because of their experiences, you know, that’s bad, have empathy for them, you know, and that will change your heart as well. And that’s where the forgiveness comes from it true forgiveness comes from the heart, not just from our lips, I forgive you. It was way beyond that. Yeah. And then what has really helped me is I pray for that person. So I had to stop the rant in my head. Right? You focus what my thoughts were focusing on. And then I pray for that person. Yeah. And then the prayer for that person really drives home that compassion, yes. Because as you said, we all have been forgiven. You know, that’s why Jesus came and died on the cross, our debts are forgiven. And we need to show that same grace to anybody and everybody out there. It doesn’t mean we’re letting them off the hook. Not mean we’re condoning what I did. It does not mean that we’re saying, Okay, well, let bygones be bygones. You know, there’s still power and boundaries for sure. But it’s letting ourself emerge from the cocoon, as you said, and really be our best and feel our best and our physical, mental, emotional well being it really we hurt only ourselves when we choose not to forgive. So those things have really helped. And actually, I have one more I forgot to mention, self affirmations. So when I realized, especially from certain experiences, I went through certain traumas, relationships, it tend to trigger how I felt about myself. Yes. And so I kind of created so like the dialogue I had about this event or about this person. I also had a dialogue about how I felt about myself, and it was negative. I felt a lot of shame. Yeah, even when we don’t necessarily do the offense. We still take on a lot of shame and if you you’ve experienced, so Certain traumas, you’ll know that like, Oh my gosh, you feel really shameful. But you didn’t do anything wrong, right? You know, it’s like that’s not fair. Yeah. And so I had to work a lot through self affirmations and how God sees me and how I was created in his image, right and just repeat those and have sticky notes on my mirror, I put sticky notes in my car, I had them on my phone. I had them everywhere, so I can read them because I didn’t necessarily believe them. But I would read them so much. It’s strictly meditation, meditate on those meditate on the scriptures, right how God sees us, you know, we are the apple of his eye. And that really helped me process and move on and feel better about myself as well. So I wasn’t still keeping myself in that victim. mentality. You know,

Claudine
That’s awesome, great stuff. It’s a lot. I mean, forgiveness does allow we’re trying to cram a lot in, it’s something that, you know, pervades everybody’s life. Everybody has to deal with it. Everyone’s been hurt. Everyone has hurt someone else. We have to learn how to give up that resentment. We need to learn how to process the pain so that we can be free so that we’re not victims, but we’re victorious in this life. We want to live a life of victory. Well, I will close this off with this scripture. It’s been really helpful for me in Colossians 3:13 it says bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another forgive as the Lord forgave you. And again, that’s the one that helps motivate me, but we know forgiveness is a tough issue. And we’ve got resources for you at mindoverchaos.com, and claudinesweeney.com and we are here to help. Until next time.

Ashley
Friends. Thank you so much for tuning in with us today. We hope this episode has brought you one step closer to living the life you love. Until next time, remember the world needs who you were made to be.