What Forgiveness Is Not
Is a grudge-laden heart sabotaging your success in business
and in life?
Much has been written over the ages about the value of
forgiveness. And yet so many people continue to resist the
idea of forgiving their transgressors. Why is this?
I believe there are a couple of factors at play.
First, although people might want to forgive, they don't
want the culprit to "get off scot-free."
Let's examine this more closely. There are many
misconceptions about forgiveness, so I would like to point
out what forgiveness does NOT do. (We shall refer to the
transgressor as X.)
~ Forgiveness does NOT condone the actions of your
perpetrator X. ~
By forgiving X, you are not saying that what X did was okay.
You're just willing to quit stewing about it. Chances are,
it wasn't okay, but there's not much you can do to change
history. It happened, it's over, get over it. Don't let it
ruin your peace of mind a moment longer.
~ Forgiveness does NOT diminish the severity of the
By forgiving X, you are not saying that the harm he caused
you was of no consequence. Indeed, you may still be dealing
with the negative results of his actions. But by being
willing to forgive X, you are allowing yourself to quit
wasting precious energy on anger and put it to good use
building yourself up instead. You survived the
transgression. Now it's time for you to thrive.
~ Forgiveness does NOT absolve X of his guilt. ~
Even if you were willing to, you could not clear X's
conscience for him. He will have to appeal to a higher
celestial court for absolution. That is between X and his
conscience; it is not your affair.
So you see, forgiveness does not let the other guy off the
hook. It lets YOU off the hook.
By refusing to forgive the other person, you are condemning
yourself to being stuck. And this "being stuck" tends to
infiltrate and poison every area of one's life. It's a bit
like trying to drive your car with the brakes on.
Consider forgiveness as a gift you give to yourself.
Now let's look at another nearly opposite reaction. Some
people are quick to claim blanket forgiveness for everyone
and everything, without even knowing what it is they are
This is a fine gesture, but it is hardly effective. Why?
Because you cannot forgive a transgression which has never
You can't just leapfrog over all the buried pain and expect
relief. You must first acknowledge the harm that was done.
The acknowledgement consists of:
- Admitting the harmful nature of what was done to you.
- Feeling the pain that you've struggled unconsciously for
years to keep down.
- Expressing the anger that accompanies these
realizations (by writing, exercising, beating a pillow,
wailing, thrashing about, etc.)
- Mourning your loss. (Sadness, unlike depression,
is a healing force and it will pass.)
- Forgiving your transgressor.
- Experiencing a new vitality as you reclaim formerly
disowned parts of your being.
Important: You don't need to confront anyone or involve
anyone else in this process. This is done in privacy and
purely for your own release and relief.
Some people try to dismiss the need for this process by
saying such things as, "Well, it doesn't matter now. That
was so long ago." Or maybe, "Things were different back in
the old country. None of that makes any difference anymore."
When dealing with profound harm sustained in the past, we
need to be aware of the inconsequential nature of distance
and time. In other words, a serious emotional injury
sustained long ago and maybe even far away does NOT just
wither away into nothingness if you ignore it.
The damage is very real and it has serious ongoing
repercussions if it is not squarely faced and dealt with.
People fear that acknowledging great harm done will unleash
hateful and violent acts. Quite the contrary. It is these
"unconscious grudges" that we carry in our hearts that
result in cruelty. Often this escapes our conscious
It is also these unacknowledged wounds, waiting like
frightened children at the "Lost and Found" that result in
It takes tremendous psychic energy to keep stuffing those
strong, raw emotions down and keep them in check, especially
when we're not even aware of exactly what it is we are
I would like to stress once again, suppressed pain and
stifled anger will not go away just because you ignore them.
They will dissipate only in the face of acknowledgement.
By following the steps outlined above, you will naturally
arrive at a place where you are ready to exercise
forgiveness. You will have reached a place where you are
sick and tired of wasting mental and psychic energy on
nursing painful grudges.
You will no longer wish to tolerate any nasty pangs of
resentment. It will become unacceptable to send your
thoughts into a mental sewer just so that you can keep your
offender in his place.
An act of pardon will evolve naturally as we honor our true
feelings. This does not mean that we have to go and
broadcast what we find to the world. It simply means that we
ourselves have to be willing to look at and see the Truth.
As a parting note, let us strive to remember that
forgiveness is not a self-righteous act of virtue or
altruism. It is not cause for arrogance or fanfare or a
The decision to forgive is supremely practical and
self-affirming. Self-affirmation is what people need most.
And only we can do this for ourselves.
Rosella Aranda, international marketer, editor and author,
helps entrepreneurs escape their limitations. See her newest
ebook at www.SabotageThyselfNoMore.com/">http://www.SabotageThyselfNoMore.com/
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