PROULX: Forgiveness the best Rx

Forgiveness is one of life's great challenges, according to Shaun Proulx. GETTY

Forgiveness is one of life's great challenges, according to Shaun Proulx. GETTY


If you’re one of the countless people feeling grossly maligned as President Donald Trump’s time running America unfolds, do you think there could be a point in the distant future when you might forgive him for all the wrongs you feel he’s committing? If you’ve been outraged about the hot glue gun mess that has been Pride Toronto (banning police from marching in uniform and not being able to have booths at the event which they secure at taxpayers’ expense) or if you can’t forget how officials are failing the fentanyl crisis in Vancouver; can you forgive whoever you blame, ever?

What about the person who scarred you emotionally as a child — so much you’re still affected by it today? The employer who discounts your hard work? The parent who drank? The spouse who left?

And, biggest of them all: how about you? Could you forgive you for things only you know? Most people understand that bitterness about the past sabotages the future, and that the only way to get over a past wrong is to forgive the wrong-doer, yet many mistake what forgiveness truly is. They think it’s taking a “let-bygones-be-bygones” approach or that forgiveness means letting the person and their damaging deeds off the hook, as if pardoning them.

Forgiveness lets you off the hook — not them. When you forgive, you’re saying to yourself and the universe that you will not be held back by what happened. You let go of the perception you need to hold a grievance for the rest of your life.

Until we forgive, we remain locked in emotional chains of bondage by what happened, as if saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Here are steps you can take to forgive someone:

Identify how you feel. When you name your pain, you know exactly what you’ll be forgiving the person for what they are now causing you to feel.

Put yourself in their position. Drawing on empathy and realizing everyone makes mistakes – big and small – can help bring powerful perspective to you.

Write the offender a letter. Say everything you need. Do not mail — but consider a ritualistic add-on such as burning the letter (and the past) for good.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. Don’t feel like you need to go back to being friends with someone who it turns out wasn’t. Don’t try to like your boss who demeaned you before colleagues. Don’t hug the groom who stood you up at the altar when you see him at an awkward social event later.

Focus on the present. Stay in the now by practicing breath work, limiting multitasking as much as possible and journaling appreciation for what you have

And for the person that’s hardest to forgive, here are six ways to forgive yourself:

Look at your life from a broad perspective. Mistakes you have made – however shameful or regrettable – are a very small portion of the sum total of who you really are in your time alive.

Repair damage when you can. If you are a mother who feels she was never there for her children, for example, find out from them how you can be there now.

Focus on the present. See above.

Accept things as they are, however you might wish otherwise. Embracing the fact of the matter rather than a wish for the past allows you to move forward and make choices today that reflect an expanded and improved version of you because of what you learned when you did that thing that’s now forgiven.

The Shaun Proulx Show airs on SiriusXM Canada Talks channel 167. He is the publisher of TheGayGuide and leads a #ThoughtRevolution about busting through personal limits on