Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Forgiving: Creating Self-Respect And A Sense Of Community By Moving Forward

Sometimes apparently unrelated ideas can be woven together to give new insight when you have the right perspective. At difficult times in our lives, we have to find new ways to understand how to keep ourselves moving forward. There are many victims of domestic violence here in San Francisco, and they face tremendous challenges as they try to reassemble their lives, build their self-respect, and move forward in the community.

One of the most important ways to move forward in times of difficulty is to forgive.

Forgiving is often misunderstood, but it is an important part of emotional fitness, and understanding how it affects us is essential to understanding ourselves and maintaining our self-respect.

Often, when someone has hurt us, emotionally or physically, we feel anger. And, yes, that anger is often justifiable. But it isn’t necessarily healthy.

Anger can drag us down and distract us from our goals. Forgiving allows us to leave our anger behind and focus on the future.

Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean we excuse the wrong or harm that has been done to us. Nor does it mean that we should allow that harm to be done again. If someone has been physically abused or is a victim of domestic violence, to forgive the abuser doesn’t imply that they should let themselves be abused again.

What it does imply is that we recognize that, in maintaining our anger, however just the anger may be, we are hurting ourselves. We must remember that, while justice is important, it does not serve our emotional fitness. Our emotional fitness is best served by looking for positive outcomes and moving forward – and to do that, we must forgive, and let our anger go.

Maintaining self-respect also means maintaining our physical fitness. Physical fitness is important on many fronts. We should never put ourselves in a position to be hurt by others if we can avoid it. Beyond physical violence, maintaining physical fitness also means taking care of our health – understanding our bodies, eating well, and exercising regularly.

Physical and emotional fitness often go together. Many people find that regulated exercise relaxes them and helps with emotional stability. And remember, getting fit doesn’t imply becoming an Olympic athlete! For most people, it means good, simple exercise: a brisk walk, light weight lifting, jogging, or biking at a comfortable pace.

Exercising with a group can also help our self-respect on both the physical and emotional level. Group members encourage each other, and help each other set goals and achieve together, building a sense of trust, love and community. In taking care of themselves together and working together, they reinforce each other’s sense of self-respect.

Forgiveness is an important part of moving forward after domestic violence. It helps people on their way to both emotional and physical fitness, and to a productive self-respecting individual.

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