“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’.” – Maya Angelou
In my first blog post on forgiveness I talked mostly about forgiving yourself. I felt that it was important to highlight that in order to start forgiving others we have to start with ourselves. I think that we have a tendency to blame ourselves for situations and experiences that were beyond our control, and so it is necessary to love ourselves and remember that it wasn’t our fault.
The next part in the process of forgiving is much more difficult, and that is learning to forgive others. How can we possibly forgive someone who may have treated us poorly, neglected us, hurt us and may have caused physical/emotional/mental trauma? It seems impossible, but it’s not. Recently I was discussing the act of forgiveness with someone and we were talking about how important it is (possibly one of the most important things you can do for your psychological health). This person said something to me that has stuck with me and changed my whole view on other people. She said, “we are all children on this planet just trying to do our best”.
I don’t know why it struck me as so profound, yet I keep coming back to it. There is so much truth in this simple statement. Whether we are 5, 50 or 100 years old we are just trying to do our best on this planet. We are all children who are constantly growing, learning and making mistakes. It helped me look at people differently to realize that they all have their own struggles and traumas and people that they need to forgive as well. No one is perfect.
It gets tricky for me because I think there are 2 different kinds of people in this world. Those who understand they are constantly evolving and so they are more self-aware than others. These people know they have faults, weaknesses or quirks; but, these people work towards becoming better people. They can look at these things in their life that need tweaking and find ways to improve themselves and their relationships. Then there are people who are either in complete denial or just flat out lack the ability to admit they have any faults, weaknesses or quirks. These people don’t see anything wrong with who they are and think that everyone else is the problem. They decided they were perfect early on in life and so their soul evolution (for lack of a better way to put it) has ceased to evolve. They are who they are and most likely they will not change.
In my experience it is much easier to forgive the first type of person. These people can probably admit to doing something wrong and may even apologize for it. This makes the process of forgiveness so much easier. And even though you may never forget what they did to you, it’s better knowing that this person is trying to change. The other type of person is incredibly difficult to forgive. How can you forgive someone who thinks they have done nothing wrong? This makes the process of forgiveness entirely internal and personal. You know you will never get an apology. You know that this person will never understand how you feel. So the struggle lies entirely within yourself.
How have you taken steps to forgive these types of people in your life? Share your methods, ideas and comments with me below. Stay tuned for Forgiveness Pt. 3, where I will talk a little more about the steps to take to work towards absolute forgiveness.