Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27, 2010

Forgiveness: How and Why forgiveness is important in a relationship!

Sometimes just the mention of the word forgiveness sets people off, no seriously, it like their hair has just been set on fire. "Why should I forgive so and so, they did such and such, it is unforgiveable." "It's not my job to forgive so and so, they did such and such!" and the story gets retold just like it happened yesterday.

Well the answer to this question is this, Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook, it is about letting YOU off the hook.
Why would you want to carry a story of blame, shame and guilt around like a bag of heavy rocks on your back when you are the injured party? It makes no sense to do that to yourself. The shame belongs to the offender not to the offended. Put it back where it belongs. Forgive so you can drop your story and move on with your life to the life full of happiness and joy you so richly deserve.

People who are forgiven do not need to be allowed back into your life. All forgiveness does is allow you to spend less energy on them and their faults and direct it back to areas of your life that allow you to be free and enjoy yourself.

Forgiveness is not about saying that what happened to you was okay or acceptable behavior. It is not about condoning the other person's actions or their existence. It is about you, only you.

What if you're stuck and you can't forgive? Well I have found that when someone is stuck it is because they are stuck in their own anxiety, guilt or shame. At some level they have accepted responsibility (often inaccurately so) for the actions of someone else. This is common in the bargaining stage of grief. Thoughts such as if only I had, or if only I had not....run through the person's mind, stewing, brewing and reviewing the scenario over and over again... leaving them with regret, remorse, shame, embarrassment over behavior that they most likely do not need to take responsibility for...however, it is often necessary to forgive oneself before we can forgive another. It is just how we humans operate. We cannot love another until we fully love ourselves. We have to forgive ourselves for our part (perceived or not) in the actions that took place in order to truly forgive another.

Why is forgiving important? Research shows that people who can forgive in relationships have longer, healthier and happier relationships. Face it, it is a given there will be plenty of opportunities to forgive one another in a romantic relationship. Why? Because we are not perfect humans, we are prone to mistakes and when two people get together eventually there will be hurt feelings. Now how far should you go in a relationship? As far as it is healthy for you. You have to know what the breaking point is for you and what you will and won't accept from another human being. We do teach people how to treat us. Certainly forgiving another does not mean we allow abuse or neglect or indifference to continue in a relationship. It means we forgive ourselves, the other and then we move on! We move on because we deserve a life of full of love and happiness and most importantly to live JOYOUSLY.

Here is how forgiveness works.

Wallowing the past in shame, and guilt, means that in the present we are stuck. We do not experience the present with the full amount of awareness or joy that we are capable of as the shame and guilt are like colored lenses that change how we view our lives and others in our lives. We dread the future and feel anxious or fear. Forgiveness allows us to review our past with the eyes of experience. We realize what we have learned from the past, what we would do differently if confronted with the same circumstances again. We look at our past with appreciation for the lessons learned. This appreciation for the past and our great life lessons allows us to feel gratitude and joy in the present moment and anticipate the future. We wake up each day feeling like we can't believe how wonderful life is and ask ourselves, can my life possibly get any better?

To review the research on forgiveness click at the link above "Research" and scroll to the section titled Forgiveness. There you will find my favorite articles on Research.

Personal Readings on Forgiveness, Kay's recommends.

Who would you be without your story? and Forgiveness:The greatest of all healers.