Im old enough to have had to forgive many people in my life time. Some who were sorry, some , not so much. Many have had to forgive me as well. Its a significant part of life. I believe the forgiveness we receive is directly related to the forgiveness we give. I could be wrong, but it seems that way to me. Kind of like the Boomerang theory. Many people come to therapy to heal and for some forgiveness is an important component for this.
And so, who do we forgive? The people who ask or the people who are remorseful ? What about the people who don’t ask and seem to not believe their behavior has been offensive and hurtful? It seems like a good idea to forgive them all. Some we forgive never know and dont have to know for it to be so and for us to let go of the weight of unforgiveness. We dont have to understand the offense to forgive. There are some things we may never have answers to or be able to attach to reason. Forgive anyway.
What is this thing called forgiveness? How do we do it and why? Well, we forgive for ourselves because not to is like drinking poison and expecting the person we are angry with to suffer. Forgiveness is a form of letting go but it does not include whitewashing harsh behavior or forgetting. Forgiveness is protecting ourselves from the effects of carrying the weight of unforgiveness. A weight we sometimes collapse under . Ongoing unforgiveness steals our energy and joy. It ruins our days and our outlook on life in general. If we are stuck in the past of unforgiveness, we cant be in the present and experience the joy there and we also cannot look to the future and be optimistic about it.
Research does find that it is bad for our being not to forgive. There are many maladies connected to unforgiveness. Bitterness is bad for our health. Its bad for our relationships. At the root of many issues that bring people to therapy is a component of forgiveness not bestowed and the symptoms are many. How do we know when we have forgiven someone? Our hearts are lighter the sky is a little bluer and our life is a little more joyful. It just is. It is a simple concept but a difficult action. It is unburdening ourselves from the weight of contempt. It is connection with self and others.
Family patterns are sometimes involved with our capacity to forgive. If moma forgave then she likely modeled for us this healthy behavior. If she did not, then we carry the weight of darkness and miss the gift of lighthearted joy. We manage life with anxiety and anger and we project this on to other people and things and experiences. We live expecting and entitled . We cannot find peace , for the unforgiver, it is illusive. I truly cannot think of one benefit of unforgiveness. Can you?