In my previous post I already pointed out the importance of forgiveness. But this topic definitely deserves more attention. Therefore, I decided to write an entire post about it.
In this post I do not only want to emphasize that forgiveness is important, but also why it is important and how it is best done. I will start by telling you what forgiveness is in my opinion.
What is forgiveness?
Simply accepting someones apology is not enough. I guess we all know the situation in which we “forgive” someone, but deep inside we can’t let go of what happened and we continue feeling hurt.
Oftentimes people genuinely want to forgive, but don’t know how to do it. In order to forgive you have to understand what forgiveness is.
To me, forgiveness is acknowledging the good intention of the other person and embrace the other despite his human flaws. You have to acknowledge that every one is good in his core. No one will ever intentionally want to hurt someone else, without being hurt inside.
There are no bad people, only badly loved people
— Arnaud Desjardins
Just like you, people unintentionally make mistakes due to feelings of powerlessness, feelings of inferiority or ignorance which often come forth from lack of love. Forgiveness is seeing yourself in the other and understanding that the other struggles, just like you.
Why is forgiveness important?
Forgiveness is important for the peace of mind of both parties. It means being in peace with what is. It frees your mind and soul from old stuff which makes space to concentrate on more positive things in life.
Furthermore, you can create a much better relationship with the other than you had before. Truly understanding someone and accepting him just the way he is will make him feel loved and secure. This will invite the other to show you more of his goodwill.
As I mentioned, lack of love is the root cause for our misbehavior. Consequently, love (read: true forgiveness) must be the remedy to heal people from misbehaving. Makes sense, huh?
And if you’re still not convinced, ask yourself what sense it actually makes not to forgive? What do you achieve with that? In my opinion not a lot, except that you give away the power over your emotional state to this other person.
How to forgive?
Before you can forgive someone else, you first have to forgive yourself. How can you recognize the other as yourself if you have not recognized your own pain and powerlessness? You have to accept your own human flaws first.
While you are on the path of self-forgiveness, you will probably recognize that you have never intended to hurt anyone. All your intentions are and have always been good, but in some situations you just didn’t know better.
Guess what? This is true for every other human being on this earth.
Don’t feel superior but show real compassion
Forgiveness oftentimes goes wrong when the forgiver feels superior. In that case, the forgiveness comes forth from an egocentric need to show himself and others how “strong” he is.
Another way how our feelings of superiority make us forgive others, is by pitying them. In both cases, we are not truly forgiving the other. We still don’t recognize the other in ourselves, but consider ourselves to better than the other.
As long as we feel superior over the other we will continue judging over the other which will disable him to feel the love and respect he needs in order heal. It can only deteriorate the situation because the other will increasingly feel insecure and powerless.
But wait a second! How can I prevent the other from doing me wrong again if I forgive his behavior? Won’t he think I am rewarding him for his wrong behavior?
No, this is a common misconception. As I have mentioned before, people make mistakes when they feel insecure, powerless or unloved. These feelings are stronger than our rational minds and they make us do things that we are ashamed of.
Let’s be honest: Don’t you know exactly when you have done something wrong? And don’t you feel bad about it? (But just can’t admit it!) And don’t you even feel worse when someone genuinely forgives you? Well, I do!
Because if the other doesn’t forgive, you might even feel that he is doing you wrong by not understanding you. This in turn might make you feel entitled to do him wrong again. And this is how the vicious circle keeps going.
So please, put aside your ego. Your ego tries to make you believe that everybody, including yourself, has to be perfect. And if they are not, they are automatically the devil.
Just trust that every single person is good. But our human imperfection simply won’t let us be good all the time. Ongoing punishment for our behavior will only make us feel worse.
Misunderstanding about forgiveness
IMPORTANT: This doesn’t mean you have to stick with someone forever just because you forgive him. Some people with severe problems will continue “misbehaving” despite your true forgiveness. These people first and foremost need their own love and forgiveness before they can move their lives in a positive direction.
Don’t feel bad to lovingly cut the ties with these kind of people. You can let them know that you love and forgive them, but you choose not to be part of their self-destructive lives and wish to move on. The following quote beautifully describes this:
Sometimes as women the most loving thing we can do is to walk away from someone who just is not awake to what it means to truly show up in love. Letting go and walking away is also loving. Exes who have walked away from me when I wasn’t truly showing up fully in the relationship or for myself actually gave me the greatest gift in my life by leaving to feel the pain of my own choices and to suffer. In the end that suffering and intensified pain is what created the fire that burned away my ignorance and ego
You are making some valid points, but I still don’t really get how forgiveness makes you a happier person?
I guess the answer is simple: Because it creates a real connection with myself and with someone else! It improves all my relationships, including the one with myself. On top of that, it creates a lot of space in my head and fills up my mind, heart and soul with peace. If you still don’t believe me: Just try it yourself!