We look at most challenges in our lives either through the lens of having insight or judgement.
When we look at situations by judging them, we decide what they mean and form an opinion. We think the situation will be permanent and that things will never change, we choose to be inflexible about it. We start building a case for the people involved in the situation for all the “wrong” things they have been doing, and we continue to dislike them.
Alternatively, we can look at situations with an open mind. We can realize that the situation is temporary and things can change for the better. We can make a conscious choice to be flexible about it because this helps us understand the situation proactively.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to be judgemental in most situations. Instead of looking at our situations to get a better understanding, we are quick to judge the situation and the people involved in it. We seek to find fault with others rather than focus on what we can do to help improve the situation at hand.
Contrary to what is generally believed, forgiveness is not about others, but ourselves. It is not about having compassion or being loving toward others. Au contraire — we do it to protect our own minds. That is why forgiving others does more benefit to us and also why doing so is more out of our selfishness (than for others).
To forgive means to give back to one’s ego. The thoughts given to our awareness by our ego are always connected to the past. Giving this thought back to our ego is known as forgiveness. By doing this, we choose not to allow unhappy thoughts to enter our awareness. This is not a one-time occurrence, but a continuous process. In other words, forgiveness means that we are giving back the innocence of the opposite person in our mind. By doing so, we also become innocent, calm, peaceful, and healthy. Not forgiving means choosing to stay damaged.
Forgiving others can be quite challenging for us, particularly when we have been hurt from others’ actions. Yet, it is precisely at those times that we need to forgive the most.
When the ones closest to us hurt us the most, we need to forgive them the most. Not only for their sake, but (more importantly) for ours so that we can move on with our lives. When we blame others, we’re dwelling on the past. As a result, we become enslaved to them, and they can’t free us because they are unaware that they are our captor. By forgiving others, we are also enabling them to move on in their lives.
Another reason we forgive is that holding grudges doesn’t help anyone in the long term. It only makes it worse. The best thing we can do is to let go. Not choosing to forgive others means choosing to stay damaged.
One of my closest relationships has caused me a lot of pain over the last couple of years (and continues to do so). The reason I’ve stuck it out with them (and always will) is because I’ve learned to never give up on my relationships because I love them unconditionally. Now that giving up is out of the question, the only other choice is to either look at my situation by judging them, finding faults with them, and building a case, or I can work on understanding them better to gain insights to better improve my relationship with them. This is also the same difference between being reactive and proactive.
Forgiving others can be quite challenging for us, particularly when we have been hurt from others’ actions. One of the reasons being that our ego is driving our minds during those times. Yet, it is precisely at those times that we need to forgive the most. That can only happen when we have awareness about our ego.
As Indira Gandhi once said:
Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.
Forgiving others often requires a lot of courage. We do that by conditioning ourselves to take the pain from others.
When we continue to find ourselves angry (and hurt) from others’ actions, we can vent it (and forget) by writing a letter, journaling, or going to a deserted place and screaming our guts out. Of course, the last option may not always be possible, in which case maybe our confidants can lend an ear by hearing us out and seeking to understand our perspective (without judging us).
The question we should be asking is not who’s right or wrong, but is it worth putting our relationships at stake for the issue at hand?
Once we have decided that we are going to forgive others, we realize that it doesn’t have to always be verbal. In fact, it’s better when it’s not. We need to forgive others in our minds. Unless they apologize, in which case we tell them that it’s okay and we both move on.
It’s also important that forgiveness come from a place of personal authenticity, and that understanding only comes from listening and loving others unconditionally.
Of course, if we are in a mindful state, we can also think about this logically and realize that being proactive is about making wise choices. It’s unwise to be unhappy today for something that happened yesterday.
We can say to ourselves that no one can hurt us without our permission (unless we choose to give it away), and we cannot hate others with complete honesty simply because we don’t know their perspective or complete story.
We need to seek forgiveness from others when we have done things to hurt them so that you can both learn from it, accept each other, and move on. We do this by sincerely asking them to accept our apology for our mistakes. It is possible that others might not be as forgiving or won’t forgive so easily. That is okay as long as we keep building that relationship by being sincere in our actions.
What I’ve learned in my closest relationships is that no matter how big or small the mistakes the other person has made or the things they have done to hurt me, I should always forgive them. Why? Because I love them unconditionally. With this mentality, we can both move on in our lives.
That means we never give up on our relationships no matter what happens, especially when things are difficult or challenging. That is a choice only proactive people can make, as they don’t look for who to blame, but rather what to blame so they can focus on what they can do despite the difficult circumstances. As the saying goes, hate the sin, not the sinner.
We need to forgive, forget, and move on with our lives. That is the only real choice we have.
In my life, forgiving others has made all the difference in keeping relationships healthy.
(Note: I learned about the science of forgiveness from Oasis Movement).