Susan D. Kalior
Work Toward Forgiveness
Everyone in the world has faltered. We all do what we do, and have all done what we have done at any given moment based on hundreds of factors not always visible for analyzing. We are complex beings, and we are always doing what we feel we must to survive. Forgiveness is understanding that. Life is hard and confusing for everyone at various times in our lives, and we are all doing the best we can, even if that best is not so good.
When we begin to forgive, we:
*release toxic resentment that keeps us in the past
*take greater pleasure in the now
*realize that everyone is doing their best
*can see that, in the long run, no one escapes consequences for their actions
*learn from unsavory incidents to make our lives, or the lives of others better
*have a deep appreciation for our own being
When we have been hurt, the normal human reaction is to be resentful. This means we are alive and are responding as we should—initially. However when resentment continues for years, maybe decades, it turns into a grudge that thwarts our well- being.
When we hold a grudge, we are cementing a perception of a person or event that we have decided is true. From our angle, we think we know enough to proclaim judgment. However, there are so many angles and dimensions to every person and act, beyond what we can know, and our opinion is just our opinion.
Depending on the severity of the offending incident or incidents, processing and healing times will vary. Our personalities and life experience also play a great factor.
When the grudge becomes toxic, our quality of life is compromised, and perhaps our relationships too.
HOW TO FORGIVE OTHERS
1. Everyone is doing their best. Realize that at the time of the offense, the offender was doing the best he or she could, given all the variables in their life. If the dots are traced back and connected to anyone beginning at birth, we would see how they came to be who they are, and perhaps why they did what they did.
If we could have access to the genetic composition of that person, we would further see the propensities he or she was born with, in combination with their life circumstance and experiences that led them to be as they were at the time we felt assaulted.
2. Accept that we are all different. Sometimes our resentments stick because we can’t imagine doing to another what was done to us. However, if we were that person with all the same variables, we might find ourselves in very different reality doing very different things. What we expect of ourselves, we tend to expect of others, whether it is possible for them or not.
3. Release the notion that incidents are unfair. Sometimes we find it hard to forgive because we feel we got the short end of the stick and the offenders are getting away with what they did. However, keep this in mind: natural consequences are inevitable for all. Life actually is fair. The chronic cheaters end up alone because eventually they gain a reputation not to be trusted. Those who give themselves away to help others, continually end up drained and empty. Those who chronically cast blame, carry an inner torment beyond imagination. Predators live in constant hell, that’s why they keep trying to give it away to make others feel their reality.
This doesn’t mean the offenders didn’t violate us, or we them, but none could at that time help it, and we can turn any violation into a productive life experience.
This doesn’t invalidate our pain or theirs, but it can shed a compassionate light on the internal suffering that leads anyone to ill-behavior.
This does not mean we have to take ill-behavior from anyone! We can always remove ourselves from offensive people, leaving them unable to abuse us any longer.
However, when we can see that our offenders are doing the best they can, it is easier to have compassion and hence . . . forgive. We all have different ways of coping, some healthy, some not. All we can do is find healthy ways for ourselves to handle what comes at us, and to control our output. Holding grudges only poisons our existence.
When we cling to the idea that we were done wrong, we perpetuate the pain. If we see our part in what happened, even if that part was being too trusting or giving too much, we can release the pain.
4. Take excellent care of ourselves. The path to forgiving others lies in taking excellent care of ourselves. When we nurture ourselves, we begin to heal from anything that has ever happened to us. We take steps that make us feel better. These steps, one by one, give us a feeling that we are taking charge of our lives.
5. Learn from what happened. As previously discussed in overcoming trauma, we can learn from what others have done to us, and use that learning as stepping stones toward a better life. A person who was raped may take self-defense and aid others enduring that trauma. A person who gambled all their money away, can start over by seriously addressing the addiction and finding new healthy ways to cope with stress.
And as tragic as some events might seem, there truly is a silver lining in every cloud if only we would lift our eyes to see.
Guilt can weigh us down and greatly decrease our quality of living. Yet, going through the maze of life, we all will bump into walls and meet obstacles. We are not expected to come out of the womb and hit the ground running. Stumbling is not grounds to crucify anyone, including ourselves.
Everyone stubs their toes. It is part of the growing process. At one time or another, we do things we wished we didn’t. We learn over time what works and what does not. In this, we have countless opportunities to improve our life situation. The act of self-thrashing only generates negative repercussions.
We all have regrets, some small, some big, because we are human, and deep down, all the same—weak and strong, frightened and brave, angry and loving. Even the darker more shadowed areas of ourselves play important parts in the makeup of who we are, who we attract into our lives, and the adventures yet before us.
We are who we are, born into the world with specific physical, emotional, and mental characteristics, and into a particular environment and situation. These are the cards we are dealt. It takes much time to learn how to survive with all the components of who we are as individuals, the environment we are in, and the situations we encounter. There are ups and downs to every trait, environment, and situation. There are gifts in every tragedy. There are challenges in every walk of life. No one can be all things, to all people, all the time. It is virtually impossible. Therefore, it is to be expected that we will sometimes fail, sometimes be weak in certain areas, and sometimes get very confused and frightened in this big and demanding world.
“Experiencing life is noble.
There are no failures or mistakes,
only innocent exploration with consequences
that drive us to become more than we are.”
We all have shortcomings and bad days. When we slip, that is normal, and accidents happen. It does not mean all is lost. When we are upset about wrong doing, consider how complicated life and living can be. It is difficult to see all, know all, and do all— just right, in the barrage of information and stimulation constantly coming at us. By doing it wrong, we learn how to get it right. If we choose to forgive ourselves, we can move on. We can rise from the ashes, transformed, and better than we were.
Points to Remember
1. We all do what we do, and have all done what we have done at any given moment based on hundreds of factors not always visible for analyzing.
2. When we hold a grudge, we are cementing a perception of a person or event that we have decided is true.
3. Everyone is doing their best at any given time.
4. Natural consequences for negative behavior eventually catches up to us all.
5. When we take excellent care of ourselves, we feel better and find it easier to forgive.
6. We can forgive ourselves more easily if we can learn from the regretful experience.
Excerpt from the Simple Guide to Feeling Better