Dear Wednesday: Forgive and Forget?

The world sat around last week and watched in shock and awe as a family member forgave a convicted murderer of killing their loved one - Botham Jean. Many debates sparked off because of this one encounter, but the most common sentiment held by all was: “How could forgiveness be given for such an offense?!” What’s funny is that I had the blog topic of forgiveness already written before this event when I chose the topic of acceptance for October. But the event made this week’s blog that much more relevant. It made me wonder how this act of forgiveness for such a horrible offense can occur when a lot of us struggle to forgive the person who said we looked fat in that dress.

Dear Wednesday,

Who did you get upset with today?

Who are you avoiding because they hurt you?

Who set you back or didn’t follow through and meet your expectations?

We spend a lot of time thinking about the actions of others and tallying up the offenses. Trust me, I know. Daily, we see one group or person pointing out all that is wrong with the world because of someone else.

I had a thought today that if everything bad that occurs is because of someone else, who have I hurt or disappointed? I have likely been walking around thinking everything’s fine and someone somewhere is talking about how I impacted their life in a negative way.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not under any impression that I have never done something that might have hurt another person, intentionally and/or unintentionally. Though, I would like to think as most would that my actions weren’t completely life shattering. But, I am not perfect so I know realistically I have offended someone along the way in my life.

What are the chances that someone who hurt you is completely unaware of the impact or severity just like you are for someone else? The act of forgiving is to stop being angry or holding resentment toward someone else for a mistake or offense. Forgiveness goes a long way to freeing yourself and is not necessarily for the other person.

Holding grudges against other people can be emotionally exhausting and draining. You gain energy that can be put forth in such a positive way in a different direction when you forgive someone.

To forgive is not to completely forget or even to not alter your interactions with that person in the future if it is appropriate for your own well being. But it does mean to stop replaying the previous offense with the emotional charge required to cause you distress.

If you need to, try examining possible alternative interpretations for why the person reacted the way they did. Not to excuse the offense but to reduce the distress you feel in relation to the encounter. This allows you to move forward in forgiveness instead of getting stuck in resentment.

Acceptance of someone is not agreement or condoning, and by no way does it mean the person shouldn’t be held accountable for their offense. Who was the last person you forgave? Did you tell them you forgave them and showed acceptance of their imperfections?

The next time you feel yourself getting angry, try viewing the situation from the perspective of the other person. If you can, at the very least, understand why they might have reacted the way they did, then forgive them to release the hold over your emotions. If you can’t understand, then accept that you weren’t at fault in this situation and don’t deserve the suffering caused by resentment. And forgive yourself, in that case.

All the best this week.

Until next time, Be good to yourself and others!

Evaluate your relationships!

Check your thought life!

And, invest in opportunities that increase your quality of life.

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#forgiveness #acceptance #humility #pride #hug

Patrice Scott is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working with the active duty military community and their families for the past twelve years. She currently works as a mental health counselor and has an interest in renewing the focus on the concept of family and strengthening bonds. She strives to continue working in the trauma arena on the process of healing and recovery.

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