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SALT LAKE CITY — Wherever you find people, you may find people problems.
Some of those problems might make us feel insulted or like something is taken from us because of a subconscious fear of failure or loss. We may be afraid of looking bad or of being less than others and so it may seem like some people threaten our happiness.
The problem is, holding onto negative feelings toward other people doesn’t produce anything but pain, stress and unhappiness.
Forgiveness can be difficult, especially if you feel personally attacked, but you can learn to do it.
I often hear my clients say, “I’m not ready to forgive.” I believe that's an excuse people use when they either don’t want to forgive or can't articulate the real reason they don't want to forgive.
If you can identify the reason you don’t want to forgive, then you can work on getting past it. Some possible reasons people may not want to forgive are:
- You might think staying angry protects you from further mistreatment and that offering forgiveness is saying the initial mistreatment was OK.
- You might believe staying angry with another person is letting you avoid looking at your own faults, mistakes or pain.
- You might be using anger and pain as an excuse to keep the other person at a distance because you don’t have the skills to communicate with them and repair the relationship. Ask yourself whether you truly want a relationship with that person. If you don’t, you may still need to forgive them for your own peace.
- You might feel like the other party hasn't been punished enough. Are you waiting to see more shame and guilt come from the other person before you can forgive?
- You might feel that staying angry and casting the other person as the one at fault is better for your ego.
- Staying angry doesn’t protect you from further mistreatment — good boundaries enforced with strength and love do. Forgiveness doesn't always mean you allow someone back into your life or trust them again. It means you aren’t suffering over the offense anymore. Also, remember that forgiveness is about recognizing the other person is in their own life journey and has more to learn, just like you.
- You're here on this planet to learn from your mistakes and grow into the person you want to be. If you choose to own your part in every people problem you face and focus on fixing that, you might actually be happier and forgiveness may get easier.
- Decide if you want a relationship with this person moving forward. If you realize that you don’t and would rather forgive but love them from afar, then give yourself permission to do that.
- Let go of your need to see the other person suffer. If you feel they haven’t learned from their mistakes or changed at all, then give yourself permission to forgive and love them from afar. Remember, forgiveness doesn't always mean you want someone back in your life. Sometimes, it's about letting them be a work in progress right where they are because you may want the same consideration for your mistakes.
- Staying angry because your ego likes the power is not going to produce happiness or love. Mature and balanced people recognize that it only hurts them to hold onto pain, so they let it go. Trust me, simply letting it go and offering forgiveness will bring you inner peace.
If you're still struggling with some of these principles, read my article about choosing to be upset and remember, you are in control of your thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to wait until you feel ready to forgive. You can choose to be ready.
You can do this.
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