Learn To Forgive From a Holocaust Survivor
By Gillian Watson, Legends Report Writer
Have you ever been in a situation where you regretted your behaviour and didn't have the chance to make amends?
Have you ever held someone else’s actions against them and never offered forgiveness for their faults?
"Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them."
- Bruce lee
At the end of the day, we humans are flawed. Making mistakes is part of our growth and development. The physical and emotional consequences of those mistakes hugely influence our understanding of the world around us. If there aren't any consequences, we may never learn basic right from wrong...
We also learn the social impact our actions have on the people around us through our mistakes. There will be things you do that won’t be appreciated or that are taken lightly by everyone around you. Conversely, there will be people who act in a way that will upset or hurt you.
You can’t control the actions of others, you can, however, choose your response:
“We are free to choose our paths, but we can't
choose the consequences that come with them.”
- Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens
Does Forgiveness Mean Condoning Bad Behaviour?
Forgiveness does not mean condoning or ignoring bad behaviour, rather it means letting go of resentment and bitterness. Who better to describe the journey it takes to truly forgive and liberate ourselves from the consequences of someone else’s behaviour, than a Holocaust survivor.
Eva Mozes Kor survived being part of the atrocious Twin Experiments undertaken by Dr Josef Mengele at Auschwitz during World War II. In the video below, she talks about her personal journey to forgiving her Nazi doctors.
This journey to forgiveness was not an easy one for her and she was heavily criticised and distanced by her fellow survivors. Yet, she knew this was important for her own peace.
“Forgiveness is an act of self healing, self liberation, self empowerment…
We cannot change what happened, but we can change how we relate to it”.
- Eva Mozes Kor
Most of us will never experience the trauma Eva Mozes Kor went through but we do have moments in our lives that we consider our worst times, forming our perceptions for future reactions and actions.
If you look back at your answers from the questions at the beginning, together with the understanding and perspective of the work it took for Ms Eva Kor to allow herself to be free. Think about this question...
Would you be willing to do the work it takes to move forward from your ‘stuck’ place?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- Viktor E. Frankl
So how can we do this? How can we move towards a life full of forgiveness and consequently, freedom?
1. We Need To Face Reality
We often interpret a situation through our own biases and subjective filters. Our own perceptions and paradigms. The most important thing is to be able to see the reality of what the situation actually is. Asking ourselves questions like - What’s the point of negative emotion here? Would I still bear the same resentment if that person was on their deathbed?
2. Be Open To Understanding The Other Side of The Story
Having empathy for the other person involved often helps us to understand how we would react in a similar situation and start the process of healing.
3. Forgiving Others Allows You To Forgive Yourself
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean to forget - but it does mean you are able to use your experience to learn and grow from, instead of having it hold you in a pattern of repetitive destructive behaviour. The start of the process will often not involve the other person but rather start with forgiving yourself and letting go of the emotions holding you hostage to that experience.
4. Turn The negative Hurt Into Making a Positive Difference
According to the Mayo Clinic in the United States, letting go of negative emotions can often have a positive impact on the body, including stress-related illnesses, like high blood pressure.
Allow your body, heart, mind and spirit to start the process of healing. If you need some help understanding how to find this balance and use experiences to thrive, let us help you start the process.
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