Forgive & Forget. You’re kidding right?

Forgiveness is a big topic to tackle. Often times we don’t even recognize when we harbour unforgiveness, or we have this notion if we do forgive that we’re weak or have to forget it happened somehow. The battle rages within, trying to figure out just how to forget. Folks, the brain doesn’t quite work that way.

In life it’s important to understand that crap happens. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. Whether it’s a playmate as a child, a BF (best friend) in school, a relationship when we’re older or even a co-worker or boss. Most of us will be able to identify in each age category some hurtful incident – words spoken, deeds done – that require action on an emotional level for us to get past it and move on. I hear people say, “I can never forgive that person for ……” or, “They deserve what’s coming to them.” I cringe at those words, only because I think about the person saying them and what it means for the condition of their heart and emotions – and very often their health.

forgiveness It could even be a circumstance like a tragedy or an event that immobilizes your forgiving nature.

When you refuse to forgive a wrong, the person it affects is you. It’s your blood pressure, your physical reaction, your internal upheaval that feels the pain, not the person you’re holding hostage in your heart. Don’t kid yourself. You can’t hold a grudge and think that it helps you somehow. Besides, the ripple effect transcends just you. If you’re at work, those around you tend to get familiar with your grievances. If you’re at home, your family experience your feelings in one way or another. Snide or negative comments example to them how life should be handled according to you. I’d much rather my kids learn how to forgive than how to cope in other ways.

News flash: If you don’t forgive, your coping mechanisms are not likely to be healthy ones.

Am I suggesting that to forgive means to live in denial or to accept what happened as okay? Never. What I am saying, however, is that to have anger or resentment living inside you opens up a channel of negativity and destruction that ultimately determines your outcome, not the perpetrator’s. It’s a proven fact medically too, that harbouring bitterness affects your health. Is it worth it? “Well, what they did was horrible, why should I forgive them?” Let me ask you this: Why shouldn’t you? Do they deserve that much of your attention and emotion? No. Are they paying the price for your resentment? No, you are (and possibly those you love).

Can I offer some tips on how to process things when ‘crap’ happens?

1. Shut your mouth. Don’t succumb to that overwhelming sense of, “I HAVE to say it.” Unproductive on every level.

2. Understand imperfect people do or say imperfect things and that you too, are one of those imperfect people. You’ve messed up once or twice, right? Crawl outside of your cocoon long enough to ask yourself if the other person has stuff going on that’s causing these hurtful moments.

3. When someone screws up, generally speaking they live with their own sense of regret and remorse. Wouldn’t you rather extend the olive branch that leads to their  restoration? An eye for an eye is sooo not the best answer.

4. Stop the vindictiveness! I’ve heard it said many times that for every minute you spend in anger <place any other negative emotion here>, you’ve lost 60 seconds of happiness. Life is short people. You have one crack at it, and you are ultimately responsible for the end result.

5. You are in influencer. There are people around you, young and old alike who are affected by your life whether you like it or not. Think about how you want to example your actions and words. I heard Fred Sarkari, author and speaker, once ask the question, “What emotion do you leave behind when you exit a room?” Powerful and provocative.

6. Please don’t mistake forgiveness as acceptance of abuse. Forgiveness is your action, your choice, it does not excuse another’s actions or put you in a place to continually accept their behaviour. The World English Dictionary describes forgiveness as:

  • to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
  • to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc)
  • to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
  • to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc)
No where in the definition does it say to stay in an abusive situation, only to allow your heart to remain in a state of being – letting go of the wrongs done.

In a world where anger and self-righteousness often take hold, please be the one who bucks the system, resists temptation, and stands out as THAT person who is not bound by circumstances or angry notions. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Ghandi

PS – This applies to forgiving yourself too!!

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  1. #1 by psychevida on January 17, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    I have had to read you post over numerous times… I believe strongly in forgiveness. I also believe in accountability.

    I understand and agree with the idea that holding onto anger and resentment causes corrosion to ourselves and our other relationships. But I cannot agree that forgiveness of an abuser is the only option for avoiding this.

    Perpetrators of abuse should hold the blame for their actions. Abuse should never be pardoned. Abusers should be held accountable for their actions and therefore incur penalty. And, while the debt that perpetrators owe their victims can never be paid, they should be aware of that eternal obligation.

    I would suggest that another option is dissociation. A physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual distancing from the abuser and the abuse. Coming to the understanding that the perpetrator’s actions were reflective only of their own self, and in no way a part of the person victimized.

    This means forgiving ourselves, letting go of blaming ourselves for having been victimized. Knowing our own innocence and allowing the guilty to hold their own culpability.

    I believe that this is the only way in which we, the victimized, can move forward and the only way in which those who abuse will ever be stopped.

    • #2 by shandracarlson on January 17, 2012 - 11:28 pm

      Thank you for your insight and for taking time to comment. I absolutely agree that an abuser needs to be held accountable for their behaviour – absolutely. I also agree that the perpetrator’s actions are reflective of themselves, not the victim. I have directly experienced ensuring an abusive situation was reported and the perpetrator brought to justice. I guess my attempt to share my thoughts is more directed to the heart within each of us, that we are mindful of those things that can trip us up emotionally and keep us from having clear hearts and minds in order to move forward. Again, I truly appreciate your heartfelt comments.

  2. #3 by Shelley on January 18, 2012 - 9:20 am

    Fantastic blog on forgiveness!! I couldn’t agree more. I for one constantly need to be reminded to take the higher ground and remember to take action in this area of my life and this was a great reminder.

    • #4 by shandracarlson on January 18, 2012 - 9:44 am

      Thanks Shelley. I need the reminder daily myself!

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    "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Jack Kerouac
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