"Webster's Dictionary" defines forgiveness as "ceasing to feel resentment against someone who has offended us in some way." How do we cease to feel resentment towards someone we feel has harmed us -- especially if that person in no way acknowledges any wrong doing? And why would we want to?

There are many valuable reasons to forgive -- even if we're in situation that seems unjust. The most obvious is that, if we stubbornly hold on to resentment, it will eventually boil over -- causing ulcers, headaches, acid reflux, skin rashes and many other unpleasant symptoms.

Even worse, violence can erupt (and often does) from anger that has been building within us for too long. Violence does not have to be physical; it can also be emotional, delivered with hurtful words and a punishing, malicious attitude.

While there may be a concern that forgiveness sends a message that bad behavior is acceptable, or that forgiveness somehow enables bad behavior, ceasing to resent someone does not mean that we tolerate unacceptable actions.

Spiritual psychotherapy, which uses psychological insight to help us develop spiritual awareness, often defines forgiveness as a means to recognize the essential truth within all of us--that beyond our personalities lies a spiritual light which is pure Love. As we request spiritual guidance, we clear the way for this inner light to spread through us, shining ever more brightly.

As this happens, we develop a feeling of great tolerance and understanding towards others--and ourselves, as well. This deep understanding of human nature cultivates spiritual compassion--a recognition that we are more than merely human. Then, when we look at all the ways in which we lash out at each other, and undermine ourselves, we realize those are misguided ways to try and protect ourselves, to mitigate our fears.

Forgiveness is simply a by-product of being open-hearted and understanding. Forgiveness transforms us from self-serving to Self-serving--empowered servants of God's Will to offer Love in every situation. And the result is a deep generosity, a nonjudgmental attitude, a commitment to inner peace and a spacious sense of freedom that feels incomparably better than a big attachment to being right.

© 2009 Amy Torres
All rights reserved worldwide

Author's Bio: 

Amy Torres is a Gestalt psychotherapist, interfaith minister, and yoga instructor. She teaches A Course in Miracles, which is the foundation of all her work. She has developed the Language of Love, Harmony & Beauty©, a form of emotionally responsible communication, conflict negotiation, and a way of "undoing" our identification with the ego. To see Amy's videos, sign up for her free newsletter, and receive a free gift, visit www.amytorresacim.com