What Oprah knows about forgiveness
The final installment of our series with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network deals with the power of forgiveness.
The final installment of life lessons shared by Healthy Living Made Simple in collaboration with OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network focuses on one of the most important messages Oprah has conveyed to her viewers—the impact of forgiveness. After almost 30,000 guests, one experts definition of forgiveness many years ago on the show changed her life, and through vehicles such as “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” her series on OWN, she continues to relate what he said that day—that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.
“I always love Aha! moments,” Oprah says. “When somebody says something that made us look at life in a completely new way. When I first heard that, I literally got goose bumps. The message that came through so clearly and stayed with me is this: ‘Forgive, so you can truly live.’ Forgiveness is letting go, so the past does not hold you prisoner, does not hold you hostage.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone the behavior or, in any way, make a wrong into a right. It simply means that you give yourself permission to release from your past. It’s accepting that it has happened to you—not accepting that it was okay—but that it has happened. It’s not holding on, hoping, wishing that it could have been any other way.
If you haven’t been able to forgive, then you’re holding on to something. The person who hurt you has moved on in their life, but you are stuck in the anger—you’re stuck in the negativity. It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge and be angry at somebody. The truth is if you’re holding a grudge, that grudge is really holding you.
“We think unforgiveness protects us, but in fact it really doesn’t.—it poisons us,” Oprah says. It has everything to do with you and nothing to do with the other person. Unforgiveness blocks you from taking the risk of love.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘Unforgiveness unchecked becomes a cancer of the soul.’ What I know is that forgiveness is like medicine—medicine that can heal your pain. It can bring you peace. Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself. Forgiveness means that what someone did no longer is going to affect how you live in the present moment. When I got that, it took me to the next level of being a better person.”