We all know we should forgive those who do us wrong. We even have a pretty good knowledge of the benefits of forgiving ourselves when needed. After all, there’s no better way to mental and physical health than having a calm mind and heart.
Why then is it so hard to ‘do the right thing’?
We Don’t Want To
It’s so easy to hold onto a wrong. We even take a perverse pleasure in revisiting the hurt, kind of like picking at a scab when you know you should just let things heal. For one thing, we kind of like being victims. What better way to get validation and sympathy? For another, the more we think about what happened, the more we can keep the memory alive, feeding residual anger and resentment. The problem? Staying in the past keeps us from ever moving forward.
It’s a Distraction
Sometimes we just want to stay mad because there’s something about the encounter we don’t want to think about or deal with. Is there an underlying issue you’re avoiding? Ask yourself what you gain by not forgiving the other person. The problem? Dealing with your stuff is always healthier than avoiding it.
The last thing we want to do is to risk going through this kind of negative experience all over again. Why risk the pain of betrayal by letting go? After all, forgiving the other person only gives them the ability to hurt you all over again…doesn’t it? The problem? Never allowing anyone close enough to hurt you again can become very lonely.
It Feels More Just
Sometimes we just take a perverse pleasure in holding onto the hurt. Forgiveness can be a tool enabling the other person to move on when in truth, you want them to suffer as long as possible. The problem? The only person you’re really hurting here is yourself. The longer you hold out, the harder and more bitter you become. Is this who you really want to be?
You’re Feeling Invisible
Sometimes we think if we forgive, we’ll never be heard at all. This is especially true if the entire incident that blew up happened when the other person ignored your needs or did not pay attention to what you were trying to say. The problem? Withholding forgiveness isn’t going to force anyone to hear you. It only traps you in resentment and anger.
Stop for a moment and consider this list. Every item here has a basis for fear of some kind. We don’t forgive because we’re worried or uncertain of the outcome or are afraid the same thing will happen again. The solution? Realizing if you want to change the outcome, you’re going to have to change your response.
Forgiveness puts you back in control and gives you the ability to face the future the way you want to. Isn’t this better?