Forgiving the Hurts You did not Deserve
By Alice Wheaton
When we constantly ruminate about the wrongdoer, we are obsessed and possessed and our lives take on more of grayish brown hues than the brilliance of a rainbow. That is why this tendency to negative thinking, criticisms of others, and fatalistic catastrophic thinking about the future is called the dark side.
Coming to the point of forgiveness is easier if we are willing to take a leap of faith. Blind Faith is to believe we already have the power to change and we begin to modify behaviors and attitudes, even though we have no evidence. Blind faith has its seed in hope. Hope, like fear, is always about the future. Without hope all is lost but hope alone will get us nowhere. We need hope with action in order to bring out the best in ourselves and bring out the best in others.
The power in forgiveness is unsurpassed. A person who forgives and accepts others will eventually learn to forgive and accept his or her self. It is important to see everyone, including ourselves, as works in progress. I will not know me until I look into your eyes and see me there – knowing and accepting you as separate, distinct, yet part of the imperfect brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity that includes me, means I can observe your behavior without removing myself from you. This is my understanding of the term loving detachment. It means I can stand back and observe ‘what is so’ in a lovingly detached manner rather than becoming hooked by any drama you create. I can ask myself:
- What is the problem/drama?
- Whose problem/drama is it?
- How does it serve me to become part of this drama?
Without forgiveness, we are destined to live and die in the outfields of life.
Reasons Not to Forgive
Whatever feelings we harbor over a long period, be they feelings of resentment and anger or feelings of love and compassion begin to feel normal. If we are going to be stuck on autopilot with our feelings, they may as well be productive. Despite all of the positive side effects to forgive, people feel justified in not forgiving for several reasons.
- Some believe that ‘to forgive is to condone’. That is not the case at all. We can be outraged by the act and detached from the personality who caused the wrong.
- Feelings harbored over a long period, feelings of resentment and hatred or love and compassion, begins to feel normal.
- Energy gained from the prolonged anger can feel powerful and to release this anger can cause us to feel powerless.
- Forgiveness may not seem like an option because feelings of loss hurt, confusion, grief, and vulnerability are more difficult to hold on to and experience than anger and rage. This is because anger and rage are projected outward onto the perpetrator whereas sadness, loss, and remorse are felt deeply within. That is normal and when it happens we admit our wrongdoing, make amends and move on. What is abnormal is to be mired in that pain, without the ability to resolve it, without choice.
- The belief that if you are a forgiving person, you will allow bad things to happen to your loved ones and to yourself. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being full of grace and equanimity actually means you will have the power to create boundaries and to intervene when someone is harming another. Being a forgiving person actually helps create strength of character.
- An inability to accept the past as it was. Instead, there is a yearning for the past to be how we would like it to have been. It is almost as if resentful people have a form of magical thinking, and so are constantly searching to make sense of those events. Those hurts cause them to feel disenfranchised, or feel very small, in some way, and their self-esteem becomes lodged in that moment from the past. That was then; this is now, and neither then nor now, is forever.
The Cost of Not Forgiving
The following are just a few of the many and varied consequences of being a person who holds resentment. Take a moment to ponder each question and notice whether pr not you practise any of them.
- Are you a hyper-vigilant person who becomes angry with others who even slightly offended you?
2. Are you hypercritical of yourself and others?
4. Are you unable to confront issues in a way that allows you to still have a strong, loving relationship? Do you ruminate on little infractions and allow the little things to escalate into big issues?
5. Is truce is more important than truth? Are you a people pleaser?
6. Are you unable to create and maintain boundaries?
- Are you a perfectionist who is sabotaged by procrastination?
- Do you have a tendency to maintain physical isolation?
- Does resentment show on your face and you look older than your years?
- Do you experience consistent emotional isolation?
- Are you spiritually isolated?
There are many more good reasons to move beyond the issues of the past and into the future than there are to staying stuck, without choice. Begin now to believe it is possible to claim your birthright, that of happiness, joy, love, and prosperity.
To be stuck in the magical thinking of trying to undo the past, or somehow right it with resentment and hatred, is to be like a Knight of the Round Table chasing after, but never finding, the Holy Grail. That magic cup, the being of who we would be without the hurt, does not exist. A happy now (and an even happier future) is ours with the ability to forgive, forget, and move on.
Alice Wheaton is a best selling author with books translated into ten languages. She is a consultant, and speaker, working tirelessly to help bring out the best in others.