1. Forgiving Doesn’t Give Anyone Permission To Do It Again!
If someone has wronged you, you don’t want to give them the opportunity to do it again. Not everyone is taught how to set healthy boundaries by their parents or care givers, so it can be frightening to imagine forgiving someone we feel has treated us unfairly. The fear is that we are in some way condoning their behaviour and opening ourselves up to it happening again.
Setting boundaries for what is acceptable to you and what is not, is a learnable skill. In truth you can set boundaries and forgive. You are not condoning the behaviour. You may chose to make sure you never see the person again, but letting go of ill feeling benefits you, not them. When we hold negative thoughts in our mind, our body responds with a corresponding feeling. If it’s a ‘bad’ thought, we get a ‘bad’ feeling, similarly a forgiving thought will cause a different feeling.
2. Forgiving Helps You to Feel Better
This follows on from point one. Holding a grudge against another person doesn’t affect them. It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person gets sick. Although it can be difficult to let go of unforgiving thoughts it is our only real option if we ourselves are to find personal peace.
3. Forgiveness Creates Peace
It’s impossible to experience real peace of mind when we’re holding on to criticism and blame. This is not to say that what the other person did, said or failed to do is acceptable in any way. It’s simply an unescapable fact that our own thoughts cause our own emotional state.
4. When We Forgive We Reclaim Our Own Personal Power
To blame others for our emotional state is to cast ourselves in the role of victim. If another’s person’s actions are the cause of how we feel, then we are giving them power over us. When we choose to forgive, we take control over how we feel and take our power back.
5. Forgiveness Is About Growth
Everyone is at differing stages in their personal evolution as a human being. It’s just the way things are. People do not always act fairly. We don’t have to like the the person we are forgiving. We don’t need them to change in order to be okay ourselves. We often make other people responsible for our happiness, but “I can only be happy when…” is a decision we make. Ultimately we have the ability to choose the thoughts we are thinking. Understanding that people act out of fear and ignorance is part of our personal growth into emotional maturity. Don’t let their bad behaviour define who you are, it’s their deal not yours.
6. Forgiveness Doesn’t Cost Anything
When we choose to forgive, we give up nothing and we gain greater peace of mind. Holding negative thoughts in our mind cannot protect us from what is already done. All it achieves is to keep the wrong alive in our body and mind. Forgiveness really is a gift to the one who gives it.
7. The Other Person Does Not Have to Accept Our Forgiveness
The act of choosing to forgive is a gift to ourselves. If we need to hear them apologise we give them power over our emotional state. Maybe they’ll never show remorse. Wanting them to say sorry is natural, but needing it hands the power over to them. When we forgive we recognise our own strength and our right to choose the way we feel. Forgiveness helps us accept more responsibility for our own happiness and well being.
8. Forgiveness Is About Equality
Forgiving someone does not make us any better than the person we are choosing to forgive. Sometimes people use forgiveness as a way of proving that they are the better person. They may say things like “I pity you, you’re such a sad awful person. “ Can you hear the judgement in a statement like this? A thought like this can only cause pain to the one thinking it. It can be difficult to realise that people are doing the best they can given the resources they are working with. If someone is unkind or malicious this can only be coming from a place of fear and lack. Even if that person is financially very well off, still they are lacking in the true causes of happiness: compassion, love, connection and belonging. Real forgiveness recognises that unloving deeds come from a lack of love, they are expressions of powerlessness not strength. Everyone is doing their best, even if their best is not always good enough by any reasonable standard.
9. Forgiveness Is An Act Of Love Towards Ourselves
How often are unforgiving thoughts directed against those we once loved? If we hold on to harsh criticisms of past loved ones our mind takes this as a signal to be on the look out for similar behaviours and situations. Do you keep coming up against similar unpleasant situations to the ones you guard against with unforgiving thoughts? For example just about everyone has a friend who keeps attracting the same kind of romantic relationship, the kind that always ends badly. If you listen to this friend’s conversation for any length of time, how long does it take until you tire if hearing about the wrongs done to them by their partners and ex- partners? Nothing really changes until they find ways of coming to peace with the past. Letting go of unforgiving thoughts frees your mind to take on more loving thoughts. It allows you more emotional space to imagine the relationships you really want rather than the ones you want to avoid.
The world today is in great need of peaceful, powerful and loving people. It’s rare to find any sane person who believes that the problems of the world can be solved with more aggression and fear. If we wish to live more peacefully then logic tells us we ourselves need to be more peaceful in our attitudes and actions. This does not mean to tolerate disrespectful behaviour, but rather to refuse to fear it.
Yes it takes courage to forgive, yes it’s a process and isn’t always easy, but is it worth it? Only you can answer this question for yourself. But what about the harsh judgements you hold against yourself?
People who judge others harshly are often even harder on themselves. It’s almost impossible to go through life without picking up angers and guilts and regrets about ourselves, our relationships, behaviours and decisions. “If only…” always feels disempowering because we cannot go back in time and change what happened. To find peace we can however change our response to what happened.
EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques is a powerful healing tool that can help you find true peace of mind. It works directly on your response to the unforgiving thoughts in your mind so that you can let go of the blame, the judgements and regrets that disrupt your emotional well being. EFT targets the real causes of unhappiness which are our responses to the unloving or unforgiving memories, beliefs and thoughts we hold in our mind.
© Mike Warwick 2014