You need to have a reason to forgive someone before you can start to change your feelings, to forgive them. It doesn’t happen just because someone asks to be forgiven. Sometimes just wanting to keep someone in your life in even a small way, is motivation to begin to forgive them. But, a relationship based on one person constantly forgiving someone just to keep them around is a really poor relationship to be in.
I don’t think anyone should be pressured to forgive. Some actions taken and words spoken can not ever be undone or forgotten. I’m careful about giving forgiveness I don’t genuinely feel. In this way I have also become someone who does forgive easily. Maybe that seems backwards but not every least thing is worth hanging onto. We are human, we make mistakes and some of them are pretty small and stupid. If you are going to hang onto hurt feelings it should be over something that actually matters. Not a case of holding onto your feelings because you are bitter but a case of not being able to get over your feelings because they just run too deeply and the hurt reaches into your heart and soul.
Forgiveness isn’t a one way street. The person has to ask to be forgiven, show some remorse/ regret, before the relationship can begin to change.
Some people don’t ask. They feel guilty or think they didn’t really do anything wrong or just aren’t interested in what the aftermath of their actions/ words will be. People think asking for forgiveness is too hard. They would have to make some effort, put themselves at risk, and possibly face rejection. However, how can anyone think to be forgiven if they take no steps at all to make amends?
It’s hard to feel you are the only person in the relationship, the only one trying to make it work. In the end, that just doesn’t work. I don’t think you ever really can forgive someone who doesn’t place value on being forgiven by you. I don’t mean they need to grovel or beg, nothing drastic or dramatic. I do mean, they should at least want to be forgiven and communicate that in some way. (Communication also being a two way street – it has to be given and understood).
They say it is easier to be the one who is doing the forgiving than to be the one asking for forgiveness. I don’t agree. It is much harder to be hurt and then heal from it. The person who hurt you may not care or may not know the extent of the hurt given and become annoyed because you don’t just let it go. I don’t think we should just let go of everything. There should be standards for living just as there are building codes in construction. Having a guide to the standards is what gives buildings their structure, keeps them from being unsafe. It should be the same in personal relationships. No one should be expected to forgive and if we can’t fully forgive that should not be made light of or used to make us feel guilty or less of a person.
Nine Steps to Forgiveness
- Know exactly how you feel about what happened.
- Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better.
- Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action.
- Get the right perspective on what is happening.
- At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique.
- Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you.
- Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met.
- Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge.
- Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.
Read the full list on Forgive for Good. (This is an edited bare bones version, the site has a lot more).
- International Forgiveness Institute
- Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance
- The Forgiveness Project
- Forgive for Good
Thoughts About Forgiveness
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder
“You can’t undo anything you’ve already done, but you can face up to it. You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And then let God do the rest.” – unknown
“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” – Grace Hopper
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” – Norman Cousins
“What we forgive too freely doesn’t stay forgiven.” – Mignon McLaughlin
“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli