Forgiveness can mean you need to let go of something

Forgiving another can be the really hard bit in dealing with a problem in relationships. Yet that’s so often what we’re told to do, forgive. But is this true forgiveness?

Part of the problem lies in the term itself. People associate forgiveness with “letting people off”, as though what we are supposed to do is go and say, “You’ve done this but I forgive you.” This can be really difficult, especially as there’s things like hurt pride and a lingering sense that the other person was really at fault. So we have blame involved and we also don’t want to be seen to back down.

It can be even harder when we have done something too to the other person, because we fear we may have to go and admit something. Thus the sense of “losing face” can be all the more problematic.Then we might fear we’re giving power to the other person, or that they have the moral advantage.

Human relationships are stuffed full of all this. It’s how countries have ended up at war and whole peoples have suffered genocide, let alone the feuds and private wars that go on. Backing down, as it seems, is impossible.

Here’s another definition of forgiveness: “giving up the right to punish and truly letting go of all resentment.” There’s a big difference here. This is about a shift in you, without any expectation from the other person. It’s unconditional, non-judgemental. It involves letting go, giving up all the stuff that’s going on inside, all the blame, the judgements, the beliefs about what we think the other person or persons did or said, all the stories, all the allegations, all the so-called “facts” (really points of view), all the hurt we feel, all the pain, all the costs, all the hurt pride and the damaged ego, the whole lot.

This is the hard bit. Letting go of something in ourselves. Going and saying “I forgive you” to another is surprisingly quite easy, especially as you may not actually mean it. But to let go of it in yourself, that’s the real journey, the real healing: letting go of all that anger, upset and bitterness. Peace at last!

I coaching people in improving and maximising their relationships. Click here.