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.

Mean People

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I know they’re out in the world, but it nevertheless appalls me when I encounter them. I am disappointed in their lack of humanity, their absolute certainty that their own priorities and things to which they feel entitled matter more than the anyone or anything else. The selfish and mean ones demand consideration from the rest of us for any tiny speed bump in their journey, yet refuse to give any consideration for the most monumental explosions in other people’s lives: death, life-threatening illness, birth, etc.

Mean people, those who just can’t be nice, who spend their time spewing thorns and littering the world with their particular brand of spite and anger.

The day after my husband’s father died, the ex-wife texted me looking for her alimony check. When I politely declined to engage in said discussion with her and opined that my husband had a few other things on his mind, she promptly e-mailed my husband with the message that she was oh-so-sorry for his loss and didn’t want to bother him at this time, but she had no choice because I was being a meanie and wouldn’t give her satisfaction.

Aside from the fact that she was looking for information pertaining to something about which I had no knowledge (nor do I want any as it’s … wait for it … alimony paid by one former spouse to another and, therefore, none of my business), I have a question: what kind of person does that? It’s a rhetorical question, nevertheless one to which I think we all know the answer. A mean person. An inconsiderate person. A callous person. A selfish person.

I’m sure many of us have forgotten to pay a bill that was due the day a loved one died, or perhaps even sometime during the week after. Even if a mortgage payment were missed, I’m pretty sure the lender would understand why and make an exception to the late payment rule. Perhaps a credit card company probably would do the same.  As much as we might love to malign them for unscrupulous business practices, the reality is that large corporations have humans working the phones and collections desks, and most people have compassion and understanding for their fellow human beings. Because we’re all pretty much in the same boat.

We’ve all either got parents or had them at some point in our lives. If we’ve lost them, we have grieved. If we still have them, we fear the day they leave us. We’ve all got loved ones: parents, children, friends, spouses, relatives. The death of someone we love, perhaps someone on whom we depend, someone who makes us smile and whom we want to be around, can be, and often is, devastating, especially when it is unexpected, sudden.

It is heartbreaking to me that anyone – especially someone with whom my husband shared nearly twenty years of his life and with whom he raised two children – would blunder so miserably and show not even a shred of compassion for him in the most human moment of losing his father. I am angry and disappointed. While my knee-jerk reaction is I hope she doesn’t seek any consideration from either Ernie Hemingway or me when she loses her parents because she wouldn’t deserve it, I know that compassion is my truth. No matter what she’s done, no matter how mean she may be, I will feel for her and I will have sympathy for her loss.

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