by Diane Gibson, M.A., Registered Provisional Psychologist
I have had many bright-light moments in my professional life, especially those moments that would open my mind and change my thinking forever. I hold a great deal of gratitude towards the families and couples that have allowed me into their intimate stories and to those who continue to do so. Through these moments, I have seen how forgiveness may be challenging but can yield life-changing benefits.
Dr. Karl Tomm, a local, world-renowned family therapist, challenged his students and current client to think of how being an unfortunate victim could lead to a comfortable status preventing the client from moving forward. Most of us have experienced the victim-status ourselves or know someone who has become comfortable being a victim and cannot imagine the positives of forgiveness.
Those people who retain victim-status may feel entitled to the following, which may result in barriers to forgiveness:
Victims can strive to become survivors and move forward with their dreams and goals for the future. Survivors can use the power of forgiveness to no longer allow the perpetrators to negatively influence their lives. More importantly, forgiveness does not mean forgetting; it means having a new, compassionate understanding of the perpetrator and oneself. This will result in a brighter future with less anger and a decreased will for retribution.
If you are stuck within a victim status, seek out therapeutic help in taking down the barriers towards forgiveness. A well-trained therapist is very mindful to not minimize the experience of the victim but to empower them to forgive and bring them to a place of peace. This will allow him or her to move forward; a common goal in therapy.
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