Monday, October 1, 2007
Forgiveness is difficult, sometimes. I see it as being important as a means of helping to repair relationships, though that is not it's only value. The most important benefit of it is to relieve the forgiver of the burden of unnecessary anger and resentment. I say "unnecessary" because the anger no longer serves a healthy purpose for the person. Resentment requires that a person hold on to painful feelings from the past. To relive the betrayal emotionally sometimes years after it has occurred. It then interferes with other aspects of the person's life. For example, rebuilding an important relationship, or being able to trust people in similar but unrelated situations, or even the negative effects of the stress related to the angry baggage. What I wrote about in my Mental Notes ("All You Need Is Love," 9/22/07) referred to the importance of forgiveness in a loving relationship. And in response to the comments, I will focus on how to make it happen. An article that I found explains the process very well ( "How To Forgive Someone And Move On With Life" ). Basically, the author suggests separating the action from the person who did it. That way you can still express compassion for the person without accepting their offending behavior. I am not suggesting (at all) that you forget what happened. But when you focus on the person that you love, it's easier for you to appreciate that they made a mistake, which we all do; or that there may be other factors at play that were not totally under their control. This is also NOT to say that you want to leave yourself open to be mistreated again. But if they acknowledge their mistake, are sorry, and you truly believe that they will work hard not to do it again, then forgiveness can help you both. If it is something that they continue to do, then forgiveness is not likely, and you have to reconsider your involvement in the relationship. I also always suggest that if you are having too much difficulty letting go of anything from the past, then you have to look within. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to forgive yourself.