This week’s Levelheaded Talk is a powerful opportunity to explore FORGIVENESS – why it’s so hard, and the reality that you don’t have to do it!
Often people who are suffering with pain after a trauma like betrayal, abuse, an argument or infidelity (just a few examples) there may be people in their life urging them to forgive. Or telling them to let it go! Or just move on with their life. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves going back and forth between deciding to forgive and then right back to anger. I am here to tell you that you don’t actually have to forgive. Many years ago when I too struggled with forgiveness I thought Forgiveness seems impossible especially when we feel we’ve been done wrong or purposefully harmed. I recognized its bcs Forgiveness is an end state. And it’s permanent. It’s an important topic and since so many people do struggle with this I’ll do my best to give some simplification to the broadness and seemingly arduous climb to forgiving. And why you don’t have to do it. What can we do when forgiving is just too hard? Let me start by sharing some examples: In my experience with relationship coaching I see the most common thing people find difficult to forgive is infidelity. This is a very common example so I’ll share it with you just in case you’ve recently been experiencing pain around this topic or if you have experienced it in the past and some, if not all of the pain is still relevant in your life. I choose this example because it’s a trauma that can create more insecurity, Fear of abandonment, and overall just Has the potential to leave the other feeling small unloved and unimportant. forgiveness will relieve that and bring back your emotional equilibrium but you haven’t been able to achieve it. This is why I so greatly want you to hear this. I also want to be clear that when you are feeling pain like the pain from infidelity it IS something that can be overcome even if you don’t forgive it. I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO FEEL LIKE YOU CAN NEVER FORGIVE SOMETHING AND I WAS MISTAKEN. SO KNOW THAT IM HEAR FOR YOU RIGHT NOW AND WHATEVER YOU ARE FEELING LET IT COME UP WHILE KEEPING AN OPEN MIND THAT THERE MAY BE SOMETHING YOURE MISSING. In relationship coaching sessions with couples, I often have this situation Come up in conversation as a huge barrier in the relationship. I invite the one who acted in infidelity to speak first. These people are predominately full of remorse. They are still in disbelief about what they did (even if it was a repeated occurrence). They often say things like “it was like I was out of my body, I didn’t know how to stop it, or in the middle of it I realize I didn’t even want to do it. What my client is trying to say here is that it was a compulsion. A act that seems unstoppable at the time. They were aiming to fill a hole in them. An insecurity. Or attention seeking behavior. Every time It’s the same thing they say it was. At the time it didn’t feel like a calculated decision more of a reaction even if their actions indicated otherwise. Anyone who is still suffering from the pain of infidelity most likely have a visceral response to hearing this. However this is the ego mind trying to keep this resenemtment. If you responded negatively to that as well just give me a minute to explain. Because I know you and I both want you to be free of this suffering. It’s a big topic so let’s take a deep breath and move on to see what happens when I talk to the person on the receiving end of the infidelity. And what I ask of the other partner (the one who experience the betrayal) is have you ever in your life made a decision without thinking, And I’m going to invite you to do the same right now—- have you ever compulsively done something That you later regret it and wondered how you even got in that situation to begin with? Have you ever been attention seeking, have you ever been so desperate for validation or a feeling of importance that you sought it out through activity which may have included infidelity. Not necessarily in the relationship that you’re currently in, but in the past?Compulsive mistakes aren’t just demonstrated by infidelity or even sexuality. it’s just easier to relate to for most people as most people have struggles in feeling safe secure and confident in monogamous sexual relationships. So let’s look at other examples. What about general dishonesty? Has there ever been a time in your life where you’ve lied without consciously thinking that you were lying? Have you ever yelled at someone as a reaction to your anger? And then later regretted it? . Have there ever been times in your life when you’ve made a compulsive mistake? These are examples of non-conscious emotionally triggered behaviors same as the previous example of infidelity. meaning an emotion (anger insecurity embarrassment or sadness) triggered a thoughtless behavior. Referencing back to the example of infidelity when talking about forgiveness, it is loaded with questions like If I forgive Does this mean I’m just letting them off the hook? What if they never understand how bad they’ve hurt me? What if I don’t leave them and they do it again? Or even if you’ve already exited that relationship, does forgiving them let them forget what they’ve done to you? not forgiving may give you a sense of control over your experience. By continuing to hold onto your pain you may believe you are punishing the one who betrayed you. But this isnt the case. YOur resentment around the situation really harms you the most. And even if it did harm the other person it’s not going to take away your pain. When forgiveness seems way too hard let the concepts go. You do not have to forgive today or tomorrow or even 10 years from now but you do have to remove the resentment from your life. So how do I do that you may ask. The simplest answer i found for myself was in the concept of mercy. Let me take a second to define that. If you’ve read my book then you’re familiar with Mercy being a superpower and defined as A repeatable decision of humility love and understanding. If you can use your powerful humility to see into your past or your present and look at the areas you too have made a mistake that is similar to the mistake you were having trouble forgiving then you will be able to see your self in the person that hurt you. I can I ask you again where in your past have you made compulsive mistakes? where in your past have you been dishonest? where in your past have you done harm to someone because you needed attention, validation, or to feel important? Where have you been selfishly inconsiderate? This takes a lot of courage. And of course humility. And when you find those areas in you where you are the same as the person who hurt you it exposes an understanding of that person who hurt you. And with that understanding you can now feel love for them. Not loving them in spite of their flaws but loving them even with their flaws and loving them while knowing that they’ve made a mistake that hurt you. Loving them while knowing they’ve made a mistake as you have made a mistake in the past. This doesn’t mean you accept the behavior or choose to remain in this particular relationship this is about the release or surrendering of the judgment around this situation and that particular charector defect. The moment you’re able to enact this philosophy by utilizing these tools you instantly begin to distance yourself from the common experience and take a quantum leap toward greater understanding, emotional sobriety and even enlightenment. This combination of repeated humility understanding and love Is the gateway to the permenant state of forgiveness. And even when your ego mind tries to pull you back into resentment giving you all the reasons that what they did to you wasMuch worse than what you’ve ever done, you just keep igniting your. mercy. keep choosing humility by searching for understanding, and you will naturally find love there. When you master the skill of igniting your mercy energy power, much of you’re suffering in life will cease to exist.