By Mary Abramsky, LCSW

Many people struggle with forgiveness — forgiving themselves and forgiving others. So, when a question on social media asked whether mental health professionals agree or disagree with the statement by Oprah Winfrey that, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different,” it got me thinking.

At first, I thought, “No, I don’t agree with the 50% of people who believe this. However, after greater reflection, I had more thoughts.

  1. The statement still contains a lot of emotion.
  2. Forgiveness can be vastly unique for people at different stages.
  3. Forgiveness requires the power to understand and accept events of the past.
  4. The very act of forgiving and acknowledging the past empowers us to change the course of our present and future.
  5. We no longer need to hold onto any anger or emotions attached to past events.
  6. Forgiveness is what propels us as we move forward.

So, here is my challenge to you to try at home.

Can you think of a time that the past felt as though it was getting in the way of your future?

  1. Think of the self-limiting beliefs that held you back due to a past experience.
  2. What impact did it have on you?
  3. Can you imagine letting go of the fear, anger, or emotion that is attached to the past?
  4. How do you feel?

Mary Abramsky, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual, family, and group counseling, as they explore their core issues to achieve a healthy, fulfilling life. Reach her at or 716-791-7848.