Could forgiveness be a no brainer!
Definition of forgiveness: stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.
Going back to my early adulthood years and the subsequent fallout of my rather challenging childhood something that I used to play over and over in my head was ‘forgive him for he knows not what he does’ in spite of the religious connotation to that statement (probably from my strict catholic upbringing) I have always found those words very poignant. As a result of my experiences through life and through my work I have come to appreciate that quite often people do not have a true understanding around why they behave the way they do, why they feel the way they do and why they make the choices or decisions that they do. It is for that very reason that they then struggle to make the changes that are necessary to break those more negative cycles and as a consequence there is difficulty around self forgiveness and forgiveness towards others.
Sometime ago I read a book called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and one of the statements that really stood out to me was around how we handle the more negative behaviour that is projected on to us and she quite simply encourages you to take the view that ‘they are doing the best that they can’. I believe generally speaking we do try to do the best that we can, we also get things wrong, we also make mistakes. We are human and we do have flaws and we are affected by our experiences and sometimes those experiences make us behave in ways that we wish we didn’t or equally we can lack the self awareness to understand the impact of our behaviour on others.
My sense is that if we do not show forgiveness towards ourselves or others then we become sad, bitter and angry and we not only limit our ability to move forward or to express how we feel, but we also massively limit how we connect. We can end up with an obscured view of people in general, which could quite possibly not only be unfair and unjust, but also sabotage any potential.
I am not entirely sure what makes some people more able to freely forgive and why some people have more of an ability to release those more negative aspects of their past. What I am sure of, however, is that by not doing so causes a shed load of pain and by staying angry at the world will change very little in your own world, it just keeps you stuck and unhappy. Yes people can be f***ers, they can fleece you, they can disrespect you, they can undermine you, they can abuse you, but ultimately holding yourself in a place of bitterness and anger reinforces a feeling of victimization and that is not empowering. Remember people do what they do for their very own reasons, it is worth stepping in to another’s shoes before you annihilate yourself, they usually have a damn good reason and rationale of their own, and it may very well oppose your own reasoning and rationale, but very rarely is it a direct result of who you are. Consider that when you are on the receiving end of hurtful behaviour there is most likely some blame and shame going on, an outward projection of inner pain. If it impacts on you then it is most likely inviting you to look within and understand who you are. By focusing on other peoples mistakes, because that is what they are mistakes, you sap your ability to capitalise on your own strengths, to grow, to learn and to keep moving forward.
I believe we all have the capacity to change our approach to life, some of us may choose to, some may not. What I have personally figured out is that if we do not show forgiveness, compassion and understanding then how can we even begin to encourage that possibility for change within ourselves or indeed anyone else. Ultimately for our own peace of mind, to enable our lives to move forward in a more positive direction it is perhaps wise to take the view that ‘forgiveness is a no brainer’. Primarily the only person you are actually hurting is you, why would you give your precious energy away so freely to something that you can not change. When you find the key to unlock the door to that self imposed incarceration you will be substantially more equipped to defeat those past hurts; and then you can begin to create the opportunity to generate and allow a life that is more open to positivity and fulfillment.