How to forgive when think you just can’t
“I’m such a fool! I can’t believe I fell for your lies again!” Mandy screams.
“Please just hear me out. I am so sorry” John sobs.
“Take your stuff and get out! Get out! I don’t ever want to see you or that useful mother of yours in my house ever again. LEAVE!”
Anger. Holding onto grudges. Deep and dark resentments. Pain. Hurt. Despair.
Quickly scroll back up and read the conversation between Mandy and John again. Do you see how harmful this is not only for the person that hurt her, but for herself as well? What emotion does this bring up for you? Do you sense a feeling of fear? Perhaps you sense a feeling of anger. Perhaps you can even relate to it right now and it brings up something personal for you.
You may have been in search of inner peace and happiness, but cannot really remember the last time you were actually happy.
If any of this resonates with you, then chances are you may need to start learning the art of forgiveness.
Why people don’t forgive?
FACT: Unless you were born as a robot, forgiveness is tough and resentment is natural.
Before we start discussing how one can forgive, lets spend some time going over why people DON’T forgive….
Very simply, people hold onto anger, because they get something out of it. Whether it’s on a conscious or subconscious level, there is a spin off for holding onto this anger and resentment.
I personally fear forgiveness for many reasons. Holding onto grudges and resentments has for a very long time, been my defense mechanism. Often I would feel that I have been hurt too much and that by forgiving, I would be letting the person off the hook. This seems somewhat obvious; so let’s dig a bit deeper:
“Oh, shame. He really has been through so much. I honestly don’t blame him for behaving the way he does.”
Holding on grudges for me came with a certain feeling of “being right.” Letting go of that anger would mean that I now lose this power. Also, being the one that has been “wronged,” I get to play the victim. Long story short, by playing the victim, I get to seek compassion and attention from others. I can complain about my difficulties and others will listen. Why? Well, because I deserve special attention. More importantly, because I was wronged, my own wrongful behaviors are automatically excused.
I think it is clear that by holding onto our anger, although it’s natural, we definitely get something out of it. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, by holding onto hurt and anger, it hurts not only the person that should be forgiven, but it hurts you as well.
Why should we forgive?
Resentments do not serve their purpose. Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, we hold onto them, because subconsciously this is our way of defending ourselves. We hold onto grudges because we hope that it would help us feel better and hopefully heal, by keeping the other person at bay.
Why should we forgive others that have hurt us though? There are a few important points that should be discussed to understand why forgiveness is important:
- Holding onto anger hurts you more than the other person.
- Forgiveness is not for the other person. Forgiveness is for you.
- Forgiving someone does not make his or her actions or their behavior okay.
- You start losing sight of everything else that is good around you.
- Forgiveness can lead to understanding.
Holding onto anger hurts you more than the other person. Chances are the other person has continued living life. They may or may not have felt any remorse for their actions, but the chances are that they have found a way to move on.
Are the advantages of holding onto grudges really that great? Do you not long for the benefits of forgiveness like less stress, less mental problems, heavy weight being lifted off your shoulders and actually being able to truly claim that you are happy?
Think about it.
It’s important that you do, because only once you start realizing all the benefits that come with forgiveness, do you start realizing that you are actually not forgiving the other person for their sake. You are forgiving them for yourself. You are forgiving that person, because you deserve a happy, healthier, stress free life.
A major misconception with forgiveness is that by forgiving someone, this means that you need to tolerate his or her behavior again. Again. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for yourself. It is perfectly normal to forgive someone, but keep your distance from them. Forgiveness is the act of letting go, not going back for more hurt and pain.
Sometimes, it may be much harder to forgive. Perhaps irreversible damage was made. Perhaps you lost a loved one because of someone else’s mistake. People they stole a valuable or sentimental piece of property you will never be able to regain. Here’s the harsh reality:
“What’s done is done. What’s gone is gone.” As much as it hurts, it simply cannot be reversed. You have two options though:
- You live without what you have been deprived of and live with anger, resentment, pain for the remainder of your life
- You live without what you have been deprived of and start living a life of spiritual values that’s fulfilling, free of anger and of inner peace.
Forgiveness can lead to understanding. Often we are so clouded by our anger that we don’t even take the time to try and understand the situation. We may be completely unwilling to speak to the other person, to hear their point of view. A lot of the time, we might just find that the other person has a valid reason for doing what they did. They may even have so much remorse that forgiving them actually becomes easier for us to do.
How to forgive?
So I’ve pointed out all the benefits of forgiveness, but that leaves us with the question:
With all that betrayal and hurt, how do I forgive?
I tried searching for answers, I have asked people, I have checked on the web and felt that all my search attempts were in vain. After all my search attempts, I could not find a blue print to guarantee success at forgiving. Guess what though? …..It doesn’t exist.
As mentioned, forgiveness is not easy, but there are certain steps that can be taken starting from NOW.
Firstly we have to make the decision to let go. By us weighing the pros and cons of holding onto anger, we come to realize that the anger does us more harm than good. When we decide to make the decision to try and let go to the best of our ability, am important key comes into play and that is WILLINGNESS. We understand that it may not be easy, but we are willing to do whatever it takes in order for us to achieve that inner peace we know we deserve.
Once we are willing to try and forgive, we can then attempt the below two steps, note that it has to be in this order in order for it be effective:
- Forgive YOURSELF.
- After forgiving yourself first, you can then start forgiving the other person
We may or may not realize it, but a lot of the anger that we hold is not entirely aimed at the person who hurt us. It is often aimed at ourselves.
By us holding onto that anger and resentment, it serves as a method for us to punish ourselves.
We may think that we were incredibly stupid or silly for having let that person hurt us. This may not have been the first time we have been hurt. We may think that we were naïve in placing our trust in someone so obviously untrustworthy.
Rather than focus on all your flaws. Try changing your perspective. Focus on positives, even though it may seem limited. Focus on what lessons can be learned from it, focus on the growth you have displayed over the years. Think back to when you had a difficult situation and you were able to overcome it. Focus on why you deserve inner peace and happiness.
Forgiveness is an act of strength and improves your self-esteem tremendously when done right.
I cannot emphasize this enough. We forgive people, not for them, but because we are deserving of that forgiveness.
Forgive yourself and forgiveness for others will follow.