There is no upper level class in forgiveness.  Many of us do not know how to get over betrayal, disappointment and harm.

 

It happens in life.

 

There are people who harm other people and we weren’t taught how to deal with it.

 

Sometimes they do it on purpose, other times…you just happen to be a person in the way to where they are going.  Almost guaranteed, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person who has caused you harm.  It is how you react that affects you.

 

“Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.”  Paul Boese

 

Never mind revenge!  I would like to say that revenge never enters my thoughts…sometimes it creeps in…but then I think that life has it’s own way of paying back…and we don’t need to expend the energy or take the low road.  What we feel is probably natural, actually acting on it would just make everything worse.

Forgiveness makes hate a thing of the past.  There is no need for hate.  Hate is an awful thing to carry around with you.

 

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.”  Mayo Clinic

 

Through the years, I have carried some hurts longer than others.  It was one really bad hurt, that caused me the most pain and it also taught me how to handle hurt and forgiveness.

In retrospect, I could have left it behind the minute it happened…but I didn’t – I carried it for years.  It seeped into my thoughts almost daily.

It took me 3 years and a very important strained relationship.  I was driving in my car, lol…90 & Fort (I was almost home) a prayer popped into my head (the Our Father) and at the same time the thought of forgiveness occurred to me.   It was like the brightest light bulb.

I thought about it for 30 seconds and then I did it.  First I forgave the person who “wronged” me…and then I forgave myself for my reaction.  Forgiving myself was the biggest relief.  Until I went through the steps of forgiveness, I didn’t realize that what was bothering me most was my reaction and of course, the repercussions of my reaction.   Most people would say it was understandable, but it wasn’t smart and it took away my power.

Resentment prolongs anger, strips you of your power, causes emotional pain and keeps you from strong relationships.  TWEET THIS

This was 7 years ago.  It was a huge life lesson for me.  The biggest plus in what I learned, is that I never go to bed with resentments.

I would like to share what I learned and how I now deal with being “wronged”, whether it is perceived, implied or reality.

When someone does something that hurts me I:

  • look at their reasoning and see it is all about them and not me (this gives me empathy too)
  • forgive the offending party
  • review the boundaries I set and what I could have done differently
  • acknowledge any part I had in what happened
  • forgive myself
  • set up new boundaries that will protect me in the future
  • let it go

Releasing your resentment releases your anger, brings you closer to God, empowers you to build relationships and feel good about yourself.  TWEET THIS

shutterstock_120210355Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying forgiveness is easy.

Guaranteed, it is easier to forgive than to live with resentment, anger, bitterness and shame.  It is also easier to forgive than to become a victim.

 

IF there is an offense, part of the act of forgiveness, has to be to either remove yourself from the person or situation – or to set up boundaries to prevent it from ever happening again.

A pro and con list is in order here.  What are the pros and cons of the relationship.  You must put yourself out of harms way.

  1. Sometimes things happen – like someone excluding you or bossing you around – that you realize doesn’t really hurt you at all.  Once you release any ownership of another person’s bad behavior, it may even be something you can live with and move beyond.
  2. When it is someone who does not add value to your life in any measurable way – well that is the easy one, you extricate yourself from the personal or business relationship and let them have at it.
  3. If it is someone who adds value – but sucks up more than you can (or are willing) to give – that is a tough one, especially if the value is in a relationship.  No one can make that decision for you – a pro-con list is especially good for you.
  4. If it is someone who you want in your life, no matter what they do (like a family member) – you have to set boundaries to protect yourself.

 

We probably all have a little or a lot of all of these situations.  Setting boundaries can be a whole book…a blog couldn’t cover it all for us.

 

“The joy that comes from realizing that suffering in our lives comes from the meaning we have given it is unlimited.”  Mastin Kipp

 

I believe that there is incredible healing in forgiveness. Forgiving someone can take years of burden off your shoulders…not to mention your soul. It restores relationships, enables new beginnings and allows us to move on to better things.

 

Forgiveness is an important skill and gift you give yourself.

 

Share this with your friends and join the conversation below!

 

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44 Comments

  1. Brenda

    Since I’ve completely changed my life at the start of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what friends I have lost in life. There have been 2 very significant friends in the past that I don’t talk to anymore because both parties (them and me) could not forgive. Years later, I wonder what I’m missing out on. I think I want to forgive but not sure if they’ve forgiven also. Great post!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Thank you Brenda. They may be thinking the same about you. Time has a way of helping us to see things in broader perspective.

      Reply
  2. Stacy R. Seldin

    I found the article to be very interesting. I try not to dwell too much on past mistakes and resentment. After all, resentment is letting someone you despise live rent free in your head.

    Reply
  3. Cathy

    Wow. You’ve given me the thought necessary to release & forgive something I’ve been carrying around in my back pocket for waaaay tot long: the idea that some things happen at don’t actually hurt us. For this particular situation, I’ve nbeen so busy nursing my victim role, it never occurred to me that, for most of the situation, I was never caused any harm… Brilliant! I’ll go meditate on that…

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Cathy, yes, isn’t it funny. That was one of the biggest things for me. Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  4. april

    “I believe that there is incredible healing in forgiveness.” i need to repeat this line over and over to myself. because forgiving has always been very difficult for me to do. in recent years, however, i’ve begun to realize that i am only hurting myself by holding on to the anger and the resentment. i am prolonging the hurt. thanks, cathy.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Thank YOU April. It isn’t easy that is for sure.

      Reply
  5. Lorna

    When I finally understood that the things other people did “to me” actually had nothing to do with me, it was the most freeing realization. What has to do with me is my reaction to what has happened. When I feel grounded and secure, I have no need to over react or feel hurt. I can see the situation for what it is and move through it peacefully. That is a beautiful thing!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Well said Lorna!

      Reply
  6. Lori W

    As I read your post, one of my favorite books came to mind…”The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom. There’s a passage that I had highlighted with regard to anger and forgiveness that is so poignant. It reads, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.” This is so true. Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your insights.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Exactly Lori, thank you. Just imagine everything that anger keeps us from doing, feeling and being.

      Reply
  7. April

    Cathy, what an awesome post! I loved everything you shared, especially the pro/con list at the end. Thank you for sharing your insights! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Samantha

    Wow-
    What amazing timing for this blog post. I am dealing with quite a bit of “betrayal” issues from early childhood that turn up as patterns in not only my family of origin; but all of my life. Learning to let go of old patterns and behaviors is what we are helping our clients to do. It is crazy when I hit a level that literally knocks me to my knees. Thank you for tackling thinks that really matter!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Samantha, how good that you are working through your issues. It is not easy. Talking and journaling through it helps too. Thank you for sharing your situation.

      Reply
  9. Dana

    Great topic Cathy, I too have had a past with a few things in the back pocket. Finally let go a few years ago…you are so correct about boundaries..I found it harder with family. Thanks so much for this D♥

    Reply
  10. Susie

    Great pro and con list! Someone once told me that by forgiving the person that hurt you releases you from staying stuck but it doesn’t meant that you need to allow them in your life. You always get to be discerning with who you share your energy with. Xo

    Reply
  11. Roise

    Very inspiring article. I think if you get into the habit of forgiveness (i.e. not letting bitterness and resentment eat you up inside) you learn to live in the present and not get stuck in the past which can be so draining. Looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
  12. shelley ugyan

    Great post ! I think its something we need to be reminded of on a daily basis ! In my experience, I ALWAYS play a role in what is going on around me..even if my part is not accepting that the other person may not be “well”, or that I had expectations that were not appropriate…it sure makes life easier ! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    Reply
  13. Denise Marie Filmore

    Hi Cathy,

    “Forgiveness is an important skill and gift you give yourself.”

    Treating forgiveness as a gift gives a different perspective for me. Although i am much better at forgiving now, I still have stuff in my past that haunts me. I will choose to give myself this gift whenever I am finding it hard to forgive someone or myself.

    Reply
  14. Beth Niebuhr

    Forgiving others and yourself is very freeing. It take s a huge load off your back and your heart.

    Reply
  15. Sheri Bennefeld

    Beautiful. Letting go is is such a powerful thing.

    Reply
  16. Jackie Harder

    For years, I was haunted by dreams of my last ex-husband and couldn’t seem to get him out of my head…even after we’d been divorced for a long time. So I performed a forgiveness ceremony, for him and for me, and released him from my life. I haven’t dreamed about him since.

    Reply
  17. Daveda

    You are right on! I think of unforgiveness as poison, it makes you sick on the inside. I think sometimes we don’t want to forgive someone because we feel that they don’t deserve it, but it’s not really just for them, it’s for us, so we can be free to move on. 😉 I love what you said about setting boundaries. Forgiving doesn’t mean allowing people to hurt you over and over again.

    Reply
  18. Pam

    Great post Cathy! You can relieve so much stress when you forgive yourself and others.

    Reply
  19. Patricia Ogilvie

    very poignant and powerful – forgiveness is for us, not them! great job! p

    Reply
  20. Gail

    Great article – not just the content but the readability as well. Your formatting made this an easy read.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Thank you for that feedback Gail. I appreciate it.

      Reply
  21. Heather

    Always a good reminder, this topic of forgiveness. I have a few very close family members (my mother and sister are in there) who have wronged me and I am trying very hard to practice forgiveness. It is not easy and I am not sure how we ever get back on track. It’s all not worth it, I know, but it is not easy..

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Heather, it is especially hard when it is family…and for some reason, with moms, I think guilt figures in with the resentment…even if it doesn’t belong there. Thank you.

      Reply
  22. Melodie Kantner

    This is such important information. I used to have a problem with forgiveness. I thought it meant it was ok what was done to me. I realized that forgiveness is healing to ME. I can not carry around all of that anger and not be damaged. It doesn’t mean what they did was OK. It just means I am releasing that power over me.

    Reply
  23. Yakini

    Call me naïve, but forgiveness is something that is easier for me, it is the healing process that comes with the hurt that takes a little time. I wish that disappeared once you forgive someone.

    Reply
  24. Amy

    I think it’s even harder to forgive someone close to you. If a family member has hurt you, the pain is deep and can create some real chasms in family relationships. By working through the pain, talking it out, even journaling can help release the pain and give one freedom.

    What a great post. Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Elizabeth MacLeod

    It took me a long time to understand the depths of forgiveness… but when I understood it… it set me free. There are so many complexities and misunderstandings with this simple yet complex rite of passage with your self. I agree . . . forgiveness is freedom… removing much burden from our already hard-working shoulders … 🙂 ox

    Reply
  26. Bev

    Great article Cathy. I have worked with many people over the years who refuse to “let it go” and forgive and it keeps them stagnant and stuck. Forgiveness is key to moving forward.

    Reply
  27. Ella | The Office Escape

    Awesome and juicy post. Something I struggle with personally. It waas only last year that I leanred to turly forgive and meant it. You are right, it difficult but worth it. Felt like a huge baggage is gone. Thank you for sharimg this

    Reply
  28. Johanna

    Cathy, I love your 7 steps to deal with ways you have been “wronged”. Such a beautiful post and awesome reminder to care for yourself and personal boundaries.

    Reply
  29. roxy

    Power of forgiveness is not about letting the other party ofd the hook but releasing your self from the grip of guilt, resentment and anger so that you can move on – its about getting your power back and you don’t understand this until you get what forgiveness really is 🙂 That was me back then! So Cathy your post beautifully and powerful explains this and gets the importance of forgiveness across – loved it! 🙂 xx

    Reply
  30. Hayley Hobson

    Cathy, I love this. And it seems really appropriate for me now.

    Reply
  31. Ilse

    So true, not easy and easily forgotten when you are in the middle of all these big emotions of being hurt. It is at moments like that, that this kind of a post is most welcome! Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  32. Vicky Savellis-Grant

    So true! Forgiveness allows you to move on. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  33. Stacey

    What a wonderful post. This is super thoughtful

    Reply
  34. Deb

    Yes, forgiveness easy to say, hard to do. I have forgiven many people in my life, one I found it really hard to do. But then all the hate and anger was eating me up and I used to get so cross with myself as I had all those years suffering when I was with the person then I was still suffering when I wasn’t. Fortunately it has passed and I love myself and forgive myself and that time is a distant memory now.

    I just want to acknowledge to anyone please don’t beat yourself up if you can not forgive yourself or another yet as if you have been very hurt it is a very difficult thing to do. Be compassionate with yourself.

    Reply
  35. Norma Doiron @Savvy Biz Solutions

    I decided long ago NOT to waste time or energy in unforgiveness. It happened, it hurt. I examine my part in it, learn what I must and move on. People will always hurt other people, it’s a natural process and I would venture to say that 80% don’t realize they did or didn’t mean to. We are such imperfect people living in an imperfect world. That’s the human nature. ❥

    Reply
  36. Edmund S. Lee

    It takes a lot for a person to forgive after he has been hurt deeply or betrayed. But forgiveness frees not only the person who has caused pain, but most especially the person who have been hurt. Nobody says it’s easy, but it’s relieving once it’s done.

    Reply

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