What to do when forgiveness is out of the question

Forgiveness provides relief to all concerned, when it is possible.  Often it is not.

The previous post addressed the specific conditions required for the psychological experience of forgiveness, and we saw that it is a two way process.

The fact of this experience is a wonderful gift to human relations.   Forgiveness restores wholeness to a relationship as if the painful event never happened.

This is what the word means:  to fore-give, to give as before, that is, to become as you were before the breakdown.

In this way, both parties have a role.  The injuring party makes amends by admitting the offense in detail and aiming to fix anything still fixable.  The injured party gives back by restoring an open heart toward the other person.

It is not always possible.  For example, the erring party may not be willing to own up to what he or she did to you and how it hurt.

Another example occurs when you did not know well the person who hurt you, especially if the hurt was large.  You will not want to go back to the state before the injury, when you were willing to get to know the person.

What is possible when forgiveness is not?  The word for the alternative is “forbearance.”  It means to forgo your hatred and your obsessions with revenge.

Often when people talk of forgiveness, they really mean forbearance, such as when a person “forgives” a person who murdered a loved one.

When one forgives, it is for both parties and for the relationship.  In contrast, one is forbearing for oneself.

In the latter case, you realize that are not willing to rent permanent space in your head to a person you dislike.  Instead, you move on.

That motivation also becomes the path.  You can leverage your wish to give nothing to the other person, neither your time nor the power to capture your consciousness.  In this way, you are unwilling to give them the power to ruin your future.

Now, we can see that forgiveness and forbearance, though confused for each other, are actually opposites.  You forgive to give yourself once more to a loved one.  You forgo bitterness in order to give nothing further to a hurtful person.

Next post in three weeks because of schedule, but I will email each week about the shorter Facebook posts.

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This entry was posted on Friday, October 7th, 2011 at 12:49 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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