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Forgiveness as a Key to the Future

Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.  It is a release from the burden of anger and pain.  When you choose to forgive, you choose to live in the present and the future instead of the past.  It does not mean to forget but it does mean to release and go on.  Forgiveness doesn't happen on it's own, you must choose to forgive.

Forgiving doesn't always mean resuming a relationship with whoever has hurt you.  "If a person won't meet you halfway or has been abusive, it may be better to forgive simply to make your own life less stressful, but continue to keep your distance", recommends Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good .  That way, you can protect yourself but still reap the benefits.  Try Dr. Luskin's tips below for mending a broken bond:

1. Get the frustration - tell your story to a few close friends.  This will help you explore your feelings about the rift and obtain a clear sense of perspective.

2.  Focus on what's in it for you - it's not always about who was right.  Remind yourself that forgiving can free you to move on with your life.  Tell yourself that the point is to reduce angst.  After all, living well is the best revenge.

3.  Breathe in calm - instead of tensing up or starting in on your inner rant, inhale and exhale deeply or relax in whatever way appeals to you.

4.  Turn the details of your story around - victims don't have control of their lives; heroes do.  So make yourself the hero of your own saga.  Think of it this way; Although someone else may have precipitated your misery, whether you stay miserable is entirely up to you.

You may have been hurt by something that your partner did to you.  You may have been hurt because your expectations weren't met.  You may have been hurt and you don't even remember why.  You may have done something to someone else that you are sorry for.  And you remember the pain and carry it with you like a grudge everywhere you go.  When your burden becomes too great, it becomes the relationship, it consumes your life and it changes who you are and what your relationships can be.  It is a wall between you and the intimacy that you seek.

When you forgive: Forgive is defined as: giving up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardon.

  1. You relieve yourself of the burden of the past.  You shed the hurt, pain, anger, and loneliness.  You can begin to heal.

  2. You give the person you forgive (even yourself) the freedom to live in peace and to be able to change for the better.

Points about forgiveness:

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting.

  2. The pain may not be completely gone.  One can forgive and still grieve a loss or feel pain from a wound. 

  3. Damage and wounds can take time to repair.

  4. Forgiveness does not deny responsibility for behavior.  You have simply committed to not hold the other person in debt.

Key Point:

Every person is doing their best given their upbringing and their conditioning.  We each are doing the very best we can with what we have been given.  As we know better we do better. 

Ways to forgive:

An individual exercise in forgiveness:

  1. Write down with pen and paper all of the things that you have done wrong.  It is imperative that you write.  Word processing is not the same.

  2. Read the list.

  3. Now say "I did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had at the time.   I now forgive myself and go free."

  4. Destroy (burn or shred) the list.

  5. Repeat the exercise for each of the other people who have hurt you.

  6. Now begin anew to live your life without the burden of unforgiving pain - it is unnecessary suffering.

Individual forgiveness - forgive yourself for judging yourself for not being worthy of love, happiness and joy.  You are worthy of love.  You are worthy of happiness.  You are worthy of joy.  Stop judging yourself.  Have the strength and courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable.  Be kind and loving to yourself. Practice holding a positive vision for yourself.  Make choices that support you in moving forward in your life.  It is all about choices.  Choose to forgive yourself and then move forward and let go of your past.  Live for today and enjoy the journey of life itself.

A couple's exercise in forgiveness. 

We recommend that you do this exercise using the principles of positive, loving communication.  If your communication is a problem, you may wish to read some books on the subject such as Talk to Me: How to Create Positive Loving Communication or take some communication training.  Once you are able to talk about difficult subjects, you might try the following exercise.

  1. Set an agenda to work on one issue at a time.  You both must agree that you are ready to talk about that issue.

  2. Using active listening techniques such as The Couple's Fair Exchange Process or Speaker Listener and ground rules that you have agreed to, discuss the pain and concerns that you have about the issue.  The objective is to understand how you each feel about the issue.  Do not point the finger, do not place blame, but try to understand the consequences of each other's actions.  You must show respect and care for each other.

  3. The offender asks for forgiveness.  Apologies are extremely powerful.   Understand the pain and feelings of the offended person.

  4. The offended person agrees to forgive.  Commit the issue to the past without getting even or holding the offender in debt.  The issue will not be used as a weapon in future conflicts.

  5. The offender agrees to change their behavior as appropriate.

  6. You both move forward with a commitment to create a better future.
     

Recommended Reading

Note: If you have serious forgiveness issues then you may find this book helpful:
 Radical Forgiveness by Colin C. Tipping

 

 

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