Why Is Forgiveness So Hard?

Every major religion in this world teaches its believers that they should practice forgiveness. You’re taught about forgiveness when you are a child; it’s an important part of living in a community with other people. It should be something that comes easily to us, something that’s second nature like making friends and finding love, yet forgiveness is hard, and it continues to be hard throughout our lives.

Part of it may be that humans are hard-wired to retaliate. You want to get even, so you hold on to that anger without realizing that the person you’re hurting most is yourself. Forgiveness also requires us to let go of our pride—and that’s never easy. It feels like by forgiving you show weakness and give the other person an “out.” In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a lot of strength to forgive and the act of forgiveness itself gives us a lot of strength and pride in return.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the other person is no longer responsible for what they did. It doesn’t mean you condone their behavior or the hurtful words they said. It simply means that you choose to free yourself from the pain and anger the situation is causing you. It means that you give yourself permission to move on and heal.

Let’s look at it from the flipside. We all do and say things that can be hurtful. We all make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. I’m sure you can think of quite a few things right now that you aren’t proud of. I’m sure there are many people out there who have forgiven you for hurtful things you’ve said and done.

While I’m sure you’ve felt bad in most of those situations, I’m equally sure you’ve forgiven yourself and moved on. I’m also sure you would like those people to forgive you. You probably didn’t mean half of what you said. It’s easy to lash out and be hurtful in the heat of the moment. We all get angry. It happens. If you would like others to forgive you, doesn’t it make sense then for you to forgive as well?

Keep that in mind as you work your way towards forgiving others. Yes, it can be hard to let go of the pain, but keep in mind that you’re not letting the other person off the hook. You forgive, but it doesn’t mean that their words and actions didn’t hurt. It simply means that you’re ready to move on and heal. In the end, you’ll find that while forgiving is hard, it’s well worth it, and you will end up feeling a lot better and happier for having done it.

The Most Important Lesson You Need To Learn About Forgiveness

Forgiving someone who has hurt you–especially when that someone is a former spouse–can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. It will also be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself. In the process, you’ll learn the most important lesson you need to learn about forgiveness.

The lesson is that forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s all about you. As much as you might like to think that holding a grudge and thinking badly about another person will them, that’s not usually the case.

You hold on to hurt and the anger, plotting your revenge, having imaginary conversations with them in your head, and writing scripts of how those discussions will go. You want to lash out and make the other person understand how profoundly hurt you are. You hold all that pain inside, and as it turns out, the only person you’re hurting by refusing to forgive and let go is yourself.

That’s right; the one paying the price is YOU. The other person isn’t feeling your anger and pain. Chances are they aren’t even thinking about what happened that hurt you so much. They’ve moved on, are living their life, and they’re happily oblivious of the pain they are causing you.

Yet you feel like you have to hang on to that pain, hold the grudge–all so the other person doesn’t “win.” Somehow, forgiveness feels weak. You think that if you forgive and move on, you’re giving the other person a pass–but here’s the thing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting the person who hurt you get away with something. It doesn’t mean what happened didn’t happen, and the slate is wiped clean. It certainly doesn’t mean you condone their behavior.

When I divorced my first husband, I was consumed with rage and feelings of betrayal at how the marriage had ended. Not only had he been physically violent with me, but I also found out as our divorce progressed that there had been other betrayals. I raged and had many conversations with him in my head in which he begged my forgiveness, and I refused to give it. In my imagination, I turned on my heel and flounced away, leaving him desolate on the floor, weeping because I would not forgive him.

I didn’t understand that I could forgive him without appearing weak, without somehow giving him the idea that what he had done to me was okay and that I had forgotten the pain he caused me.

I spent years consumed by my anger, wondering why he couldn’t understand how much he had hurt me and wouldn’t tell me he was sorry. But he wasn’t suffering. He ultimately remarried and presumably went on to live a life he designed for himself, not giving me another thought, while I was still fuming.

So, who was suffering? ME. Until one day I typed a question into my search engine bar: how can I forgive my ex?

I started on a journey to learn about forgiveness–how to give it and how to receive it–and it changed my life. It enabled me to move on, move beyond events I thought would define me forever.

Forgiving my ex doesn’t mean that what he did to me will ever be acceptable under any circumstances, nor does it mean that I will ever forget how he hurt me.

Forgiveness simply means that you are ready to move on, as I was ready to move on, and build a life without anger and pain defining you.

You need to forgive so you can start to heal. You need to forgive so you can get beyond whatever hurt was done. You forgive the other person so that you are no longer bound to them. You forgive so you can become happy again and focus on the rest of your life.

It’s not going to be easy; forgiveness never is. The greater your pain, the harder the act of forgiving will be, but it is worth it–not because it makes you a better person (although it does) or because it’s the right thing to do (even though it is)–but because in the long run, forgiveness will free you and help you much more than the other person.

Be the stronger person, do the right thing, and practice forgiveness. You’ll be glad you did when that weight lifts off your shoulders, the wounds start to heal, and you get to experience the sweetest revenge of all–living a long and happy life without wasting another thought on the person who hurt you or what they did.

I know I am stronger and happier for having put forgiveness for my ex out into the universe.

Are you ready to forgive someone who has hurt you?

What Exactly Is Forgiveness?

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Let’s talk about forgiveness and exactly what it is. If you look up the definition of forgiveness, you will learn that it is the act of forgiving someone or the state of being forgiven by someone. That doesn’t tell you much, though, does it?

The Jonathan Lockwood Huie quote at the top of this post is a lot more telling than the dictionary definition. Forgiveness involves two or more people, and there is usually a previous incident that requires or deserves forgiveness. What is fascinating is how many people think forgiveness is all about the person who hurt or wronged them.

Perhaps you’re mad, angry, disappointed, or sad about something that someone said or did to you. Eventually, you may get to the point where you forgive that person, but more likely than not it will be a time-consuming process.

However, when you do get to the point where you can forgive and move on with your life, something truly amazing happens. You realize that the only person you were hurting by hanging on to that anger was you.

You might not believe me now, amid the hurt and anger, but forgiveness is much more about you than it is the other person involved. We need to see the act of forgiveness as a journey of coming to terms with an unpleasant or painful experience. Once you’re able to do that, you will realize the only person you were hurting with your anger and resentment was you.

Forgiveness then, while a noble act on the outside, is really all about you. It’s about giving yourself permission to let go and move on.

That’s easier said than done, though, am I right?

Forgiveness is both a singular act and an on-going process. It begins with the deliberate act of deciding to let go of the resentment you’re feeling. Once you make that conscious decision, then you can begin the process of forgiving. The way you make that happen is to forgive (and possibly) forget continually until you are genuinely over the anger, hurt, and pain.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone what they did that hurt or angered you, nor does it mean that you agree with their behavior or share their point of view. Instead, forgiveness is about achieving the peace of mind necessary to move on with your life.

While forgiveness may involve reconciliation with the person you’ve forgiven, that isn’t necessary. Forgiveness really is all about you and coming to terms with a bad experience so you can get past it. Forgiveness is a potent ability and one well worth exploring.

Your best friend

 

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If your best friend was having a bad hair day, you’d tell her she was nevertheless beautiful, because you see her personality shining through. If your best friend was worried about something, you’d listen with love and kindness, and you would hold space for her, just be with her.

Do the same for yourself. If it’s hard, do it for a day. Then another. And another.

Start fresh every morning and soon it will be your default.

The way you speak to yourself matters. So be kind, be supportive, be loving, give yourself time and space to be who you want to be, who you are meant to be.

Be your own best friend.

Staying soft

Staying soft is a challenge. If it was easy, everyone would be soft – kind, gracious, forgiving, accepting, loving.

It’s not easy, though, and the result is hateful and angry people, people allowing bitterness over the state of their lives and situations to spill out into the world.

People feel disenfranchised and powerless, and they let their pain make them hate; they let their hate morph into bitterness and vitriol.

Admitting that you hate, admitting that you are bitter – and more importantly, moving beyond it, letting it go and releasing your anger and bitterness – is hard.

Life is hard. There are so many chances for us to stand or fall, to accept our circumstances with grace or try to change them with equal grace. There are many more chances for us to explode in anger, to allow it to simmer in our souls and eat away at our peace of mind, our calm. So much – most of it, in fact – is beyond our control.

The only thing we can control is our reaction to that which life lobs our way.

Being the control freak that I am, I’ve always had a hard time with this concept of letting go and staying soft, but I’ve learned from the things I won’t let go creeping up and biting me in the ass, turning me into someone I don’t recognize, somebody I don’t particularly like.

Once upon a time, I was casually cordial with another woman; friendship was never in the cards due to disparate priorities. The problem was, despite our differences, I envied her and judged her.

I judged her for behavior that I just couldn’t fathom, the way she lived her life and took care of only herself, while also envying her freedom to live life just for herself without encumbrance.

It took me a long time to realize why I felt such enmity towards her, but when I began to look more closely at my own reactions, my own motivations, it was a lightning bolt; I felt hatred towards her because I envied her. I wanted to be in her shoes, and admitting that to myself was excruciatingly discomfiting. I was jealous.

Because she had the outline of a life I wanted, I was allowing that bitterness to seep into every crevice of my life, every important relationship, affecting everyone I loved. I was becoming someone I didn’t like, the type of person I accused her of being – bitter, angry, jealous and petty.

I’m not going to sit at my keyboard and claim that it was just that easy, that I realized the problem and it was fixed with a magical wave of my hand banishing the bad thoughts. No; It was hard and involved a lot of soul searching and deep thoughtful work on myself – and it is still a work in progress – but each day it gets easier.

If she ever crosses my mind these days, it’s to say a silent “thank you” for motivating me to move forward in creating the life and future I want.

Now I just focus on building the life I want for myself, ensuring that the world sees the person I truly am instead of someone who is so hardened by hatred and envy that all my sweetness and softness is gone.

10 Benefits of Calm

The so-called fight or flight reaction is an excellent one to have in life or death situations, but in our modern life, the stress reaction is not usually accompanied by the need for heightened physical response.

Unfortunately, many of us are so consistently stressed that our bodies are continuously and needlessly flooded with adrenaline and other hormones, which taxes our nervous systems and drains our immune systems, thereby making us susceptible to a range of physical and psychological ailments. Insomnia, heart disease, anxiety, depression; all have links to constant and unchecked stress.

Cultivating deliberate calm in your life can make an appreciable difference to your emotional and physical well being. There are many ways to cultivate more calm, but no matter how you do it, the benefits are huge and can make a real difference in your life.

Here are the ten biggest benefits of having more calm in your life:

1. Calm makes you feel happier in general.

2. Calm helps restore both good health and energy levels.

3. Calm raises mental acuity and increases concentration.

4. Calm inspires you to create and to enjoy yourself.

5. Calm helps you develop your intuition or learn to listen to it again.

6. Calm slows down the physical and mental aging processes.

7. Calm helps you connect with yourself and build better relationships with others.

8. Calm enables you to relax, let go, and rejuvenate.

9. Calm increases your capacity for hope, forgiveness, and compassion.

10. Calm allows you to spend more time on what is important to you.

So spend some time cultivating calm – emotional brain training, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, mediation, whatever is best for you – and make a real difference in your life.

Important Work

Today’s task was clearing out the office on the first floor of my house, the one that my son uses for homework and school assignments. Sometimes I’ll sit in there and work with him, sometimes I’ll just sit and enjoy the silence during the bustle of my days.

Today it needed to be cleared so he could be there with his tutor.

Here’s what the room looked like before I cleared it out:

Not very office like.

Here’s what the office looked like when I was done:

Decidedly more like an office space.

The television that needs to be swapped out grates on my nerves, and there are just so many more books than I want stuffed onto the shelves.

It’s not perfect, but the floors are clean, the recycling is gone, the shelves are somewhat organized, the desk is clean and ready to receive a new assignment (even with the cat in the chair), my son’s balance boards are in the corner where nobody will trip over them, and it smells like oranges.

It’s a little zen haven in the middle of the chaos of our home.

Once I finished, I sat on the couch and closed my eyes for a quiet moment, recognizing that just like my little boy with ADHD, I need calm for my mind to function at its best. I sat and enjoyed the silence and then penned an essay on my mother’s Christmas bags.

My first essay in months.

It was as if the block was lifted for just a second, just long enough to let out the good stuff that has been stuck behind the barricade of junk and energy overload.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle something else. I don’t know what, yet, but I’m sure it will come to me through the small break left by today’s clearing.

Until then.

Don’t Dwell on the Past

To the Brig!

It’s January 1, so there must be a new project in the offing.

This year will be different, however, because the stress of not getting anything done, not achieving the goals I set for myself, and not making any appreciable change in my life, is beginning to affect my physical health. Something needs to change, and I’m determined that this is going to be the year because I can no longer accept feeling the weight of it all on my shoulders.

I’m not making resolutions, just a promise to myself to clear something, to write something, each and every day for the next 365 days.

My husband has decided the time has come to move towards minimalism, so I’m cautiously optimistic that this may actually be the year we get the house and garage cleared out, after watching my space get more cluttered and feeling progressively more blocked each day for the last many years.

From the day we moved in together, my space and our shared space has become more cluttered, and my stress levels have risen as the walls of detritus have closed in around me. It’s laughable at this point; my friends know that we’re always in the middle of a big cleaning or organization project.

My friends don’t care, but as a suffocated neat freak, my cheeks get hot and I want to hide under the floorboards whenI allow myself to think about it.

Our son is beginning to pick up his father’s habit of collecting things and I have to stop it. I can’t move forward in any appreciable manner with the clutter and stuff all around me.  I’ve been struggling to get my coaching business off the ground and I’ve finally realized that where there is clutter, there is stagnant thought and energy. I sometimes find myself not caring about the mess, which is a huge red flag to me that I’m entering into some state of Stockholm syndrome.

I don’t want to be that person.

When I was on a call with my coach in December, she asked me what I wanted for 2018, what one word I would pick. Immediately I said clarity.

So, today begins my journey to clarity: clarity of space in my home, clarity of mind and direction , clarity of purpose and movement in my business, and balance resulting from that clarity.

Today’s project is clearing out the downstairs office. Pictures will be posted.

Until then.

10 Ways to Survive the First Months of a Divorce

Sitting Alone on Bed Thinking of You

Four words guaranteed to devastate anyone: I want a divorce.

Divorce is one of the most painful and frightening events a person can experience, and it takes time and energy to get through it and come out whole on the other side.

I’ve been through a divorce, and I’m not going to lie – it was awful. However, there were some things I did in the first weeks after my marriage fell apart that made it bearable and even gave me moments of joy, which although they were fleeting at first, became more frequent and lasted longer as time went on. Read more

Starting Anew

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Marie Curie once said that nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Most people would agree that one of the scariest life events that anyone can experience is divorce.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Divorce can also be a gift. Divorce is an opportunity to rebuild your life according to YOUR vision, YOUR core desires, YOUR compass instead of what you’ve compromised on during your marriage.

Divorce – whether you have chosen it or whether it has trounced through your life unbidden – forces you to start over, to figure out who you are again. It’s like repeating adolescence, only without the raging hormones (or perhaps with the hormones, depending on how you decide to distract yourself from your feelings). Read more