Life is filled with hurts. Why hold onto the hurts of the past when dropping them gives you so much more room to love.
This week who will you forgive?
A parent who failed to say you were a worthwhile person or pretty or smart? A mother-in-law who betrayed you? A manager who let you go instead of a less productive co-worker? A boss who made promises but never kept them? A husband who was unfaithful? A girlfriend who left you? A child who has brought misery to the family? A doctor who refused to listen and caused needless suffering? An unscrupulous person who has cost you thousands of dollars? A neighbor who’s been downright mean? A relative who can’t seem to stop putting you down? Who will you choose to forgive?
How will you go about the process of forgiveness?
Sometimes trying to get into the other person’s shoes is helpful.
The neighbor who’s caused you pain — is he fearful that someone will take advantage of him, cost him money or time?
Perhaps too many people have been mean to him, and his surliness and anger have become his defense. Might you say, “I forgive him” and then extend the olive branch? Maybe your olive branch will be a smile or dropping off a pan of brownies you happened to bake.
When your husband betrayed you, indeed he was taking care of himself, caught up in his own egotism. You did not cause his betrayal.
Nevertheless, think about whether you might have done something to be a better wife. Were you too critical and always expecting more from him, raising the bar? Did you push him away emotionally and physically because you were caught in your own world as he became caught in his.
The friend who’s jealous — does she feel inadequate in comparison to you? How have you tried to shore her up? What would make her feel good about herself? Raining on your parade is only a symptom of her insecurities.
Sometimes it’s easier to forgive hurts when you think of the good the other person has done through the years.
When I find myself angry and hurt because of some perceived or real injustice, I’ll take a piece of paper and run a line down the center. In one column I write the caring things I’ve seen the other person do. In the second column I’ll write her transgressions.
Having a different perspective, seeing reality, makes forgiving easier.
Perhaps when you think of forgiveness, you’ll find you need to forgive yourself. Maybe when you were a child you stole something and blamed it on someone else. For years you’ve carried the burden of guilt. Is there anyone you can tell your story to and then forgive yourself?
Perhaps in your business you’ve taken financial advantage of others and excused yourself by saying, “It was good business.” How could you make amends to those people you’ve hurt financially and emotionally? How will you rectify your past behavior? Who might you call and apologize to? Once you’ve made restitution, it becomes easier to forgive yourself.
A great cause of suffering is holding onto old hurts and the pain they bring when we think about them. By choosing to forgive, you choose to let go of your own pain.
Posts by Doris Wild Helmering, LCSW., BCD
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