Exhaling the Past

“It takes more effort to stay mad at someone than it does to forgive” – Anonymous

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Last month, I wrote a post about the importance of letting go of pride and apologizing to someone you love when their feelings are hurt. However, what if you are the one whose feelings are hurt? Sometimes it’s not that easy to forgive someone when they apologize especially if their actions were painful or continued for a long time.

Often when one party is hurt and the apology takes a while to come, the feelings of hurt can turn into resentment and anger. Once the apology finally does come, it can be very difficult to let go of the anger and offer forgiveness. Holding on to the resentment and hurtful feelings from the past destroys your present relationship, and in fact, a lot of couples attend counseling sessions for reasons that date back years. 

So why can it be so hard to forgive? 

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  • Pride – A lot of times our pride gets in the way. We can’t believe that someone we love so much could hurt us so badly. Sometimes, in an effort to protect our emotions we tend to build barriers of unforgiveness.
  • Accountability – Sometimes we might feel that forgiving someone lets them off the hook for their wrongdoing. To hold them accountable, we “punish” them by withholding forgiveness. 
  • Forgive and Forget? – Often we hear that when we forgive we should automatically forget the wrongdoing. This can be very hard and sometimes nearly impossible, so we’d rather not forgive.

I’ve been here many times before in varying family and friend relationships. In fact, now that I think about it, there are a few people that I still need to forgive despite not receiving an apology first.

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Whether online, on tv or even at home, it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing that we should “forgive and forget.” However, in my personal experience, forgetting every time we forgive is not only nearly impossible, but also inadvisable. I do think there are times when it is easy to forgive and forget. However, some more challenging situations, can be used as learning experiences.

For example, there are times in my relationship with Rocket where we use past events to explain present issues. I might bring up something that I have already forgiven to explain how I feel in the present. I don’t bring it up out of malice or hurt, but it helps us understand the current situation better because we grew from past events.

I think you can forgive without forgetting if you can remember their actions without bringing up a negative emotional response.

Forgiving is hard especially if someone hasn’t actually apologized. However, it is important to forgive despite the offenders actions in order to move forward and enjoy your present.

Now, you might tell me understand all the benefits of forgiveness, but when you try to forgive it’s just impossible. Below are a few steps that I have used in the past to help me overcome unforgiveness. 

Steps of Forgiveness:

Steps to Forgiveness (1)

Hopefully we can all work on forgiving those who have hurt us in the past! 🙂

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