When we talk about forgiveness, there are three kinds to consider: Forgiveness to yourself, forgiveness from other people, and forgiveness to other people. Let’s examine all three types and how they can assist in healing depression:
1. Forgiveness To Yourself
Depression is accompanied by feelings of guilt that we are worthless and that we could do much better. Guilt comes from many sources. It can come from our families, our churches, our peers, our superiors, even from ourselves. A part of our mind knows we are expected to fulfill certain obligations in society, and depression hinders those capabilities. The more guilt we feel, the worse it can make depression. Depression seems to feed off negativity, and what is more negative than guilt? So, forgive yourself. Accept that you have an illness and that it does not matter what other people think, so there is need for guilt. If other people won’t accept you the way you are, you don’t need to be around them. Life is not about pleasing other people (even if that is what society teaches); it is about finding our purpose. We can still fulfill our purpose, even with an illness, so let it go and forgive yourself.
2. Forgiveness from other people
That is harder to obtain than forgiving yourself, as you can’t make people do what you want them to do, as that violates their free will. However, with close friends and family members all we need to do is ask. Often people with depression think that people dislike or even hate them because of the condition, as depression makes them hate themselves. Many of us hide that we suffer from this illness, because we are embarrassed and don’t want others to think of us in a bad way. So how does forgiveness from other people work? Be honest with them. For example if someone in your family wants you to something and you can’t because it’s just too much, tell them so. You might be surprised that they actually understand. Give them books to read about your condition that will also benefit everyone involved.
3. Forgiveness to other people
This should be easy, but for most people it is not. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you have to forget something (though forgetting bad experiences is beneficial too), but it is much healthier to forgive than to carry extra burdens. Depression is hard enough to deal with; we don’t need to carry issues with us that are in our control to absolve. So, if you think someone has expectations of you that you can’t fulfill because of your illness, just forgive them. There is no point in carrying anger around. Remember, the other person does not know how you feel, nor can we expect them too. Negative feelings towards others just make the depression worse.
None of these things seem easy, but you will be amazed how much difference in your life it can make to just learn all types of forgiveness. Depression alone already drains the energy out of us; don’t let an unforgiving attitude do the same.