I am a member of several private social media groups where people post their issues, and others offer their advice. I am part of those groups with the intention to offer advice, and occasionally, I get friend requests from other members because they appreciate my insight.
One friend in particular posted on her personal page about an experience she had in one of the groups. She described a situation where a woman had a sister who betrayed her and resulted in devastation and tearing the family apart. After ten years passed, the sister finally apologized with hopes to move forward. The woman still wanted nothing to do with her sister.
My friend then noted others’ opinions on the matter, quoting another member, “I would forgive her, BUT I don’t want her in my house. I don’t want to hang out with her. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do that.” She then said that this idea of forgiving someone while still not wanting them around confused her. She asked, “So what does forgiveness mean?”
That is my inspiration for this article. I’m sure we have all been in situations where someone betrayed us, stabbed us in the back, disrespected us, and just plain hurt us really badly. I know I have. Were you able to forgive them? What does forgiveness mean to you?
“Forgiveness is more about peace within yourself than it is about the other person.”
To me, forgiveness is one of the most important abilities to have in your arsenal. It’s what allows you to move forward in your life. Here is my response to my friend’s post:
Forgiveness is allowing yourself to let go of what happened. Without forgiveness, you have resentment. Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, as Tony Robbins puts it. This doesn’t mean you forget what happened, and it doesn’t mean you have to allow a person who wronged you back into your life. It just means that you are willing to accept that it happened, let it go, and move forward without letting it destroy you. Forgiveness is more about peace within yourself than it is about the other person.
Okay! So there are a few people that have done terrible things in my life. And I’ve always said I haven’t forgave them. But obviously life goes on. I’ve moved forward. I don’t spend every day thinking about how much I hate these people. So does that mean I forgave them? Because I thought forgiving them is like something I actually consciously make an effort to do. Say so and so did this to me, but I forgive them. Because I just can’t see myself ever saying that about some of these people.
If you can’t see yourself ever forgiving someone, then there’s obviously something you’re holding onto and not allowing yourself to completely move past. Everything that happens in our life, good or bad, is an experience that allows us to learn and to shape our character. How you respond to events in your life is 100% your decision. When you hold onto resentment or blame, you are giving your power away to someone else and not allowing yourself to take control of your own life.
“Ego is the enemy.”
That’s all the input I shared in the conversation, but she went on later to say that she understands that forgiveness is a religious thing, so perhaps she struggles with forgiveness because she struggles with religion. She is obviously referring to Christianity, which teaches to forgive your neighbor as God forgives you, and it can be referenced in numerous verses in the Bible.
Why would someone struggle with a single concept like forgiveness just because they struggle with the entire religion of Christianity? If Christianity is 1080p, then forgiveness is a single pixel. You don’t have to be Christian to agree with or understand a message. Some people are so hung up on whether they believe in God that they completely miss the message. They are missing the forest for the trees. Ego is the enemy.
Like I said, when you hold onto blame, you are giving your power away to someone else. They still have control over you, and you are not allowing yourself to move forward and grow to your full potential. You are not allowing yourself to progress. Progress equals happiness; therefore, YOU are not allowing yourself to be happy. It really doesn’t matter what anyone did to you, because everything is forgivable. Everything! People do some nasty things to others, but you are ultimately in control of how you define the circumstances in your life.
According to Tony Robbins, there are three decisions we make that shape our lives.
What You Focus On
What are you focused on? “Where focus goes, energy flows.” If you focus on the negative things in life, then you will naturally attract more negativity. The key is to focus on the positive. Focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Focus on where you want to be, and you will get there.
What Does This Mean?
You are only a victim of the circumstances in your life if you choose to be. “Nothing in life has any meaning except for the meaning I give it.” Choose to take responsibility for the circumstances. Own them. Like I told my friend, it is your decision whether you look at the events in your life as opportunities to learn and grow.
What Are We Going to Do?
After you determine what something means, you then decide what you’re going to do about it. Are you going to sit and complain? Are you going to feel sorry for yourself and seek sympathy from others? Are you going to be angry about it? Are you going to accept that you can’t change what happened and move forward?
I’ve had my share of struggles, but I am thankful for all of them, because without struggle, we don’t get stronger. To build a muscle, you work it out past your comfort zone, the muscle gets damaged, and the muscle fibers tear. Then, the muscle repairs itself and grows bigger and stronger. It adapts. That’s what we need to do mentally. Learn and adapt. Struggle, recover, repair, and grow stronger.
So, forgiveness is acceptance. Forgiveness is willingness to let the past be the past and move on. Forgiveness is the desire to live life without holding grudges and thereby not allowing yourself to be poisoned with resentment. Forgiveness is resolve. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is strength, inner peace, and self-love.