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Do I have to forgive them to heal?

do I have to forgive them to heal?

You probably have someone in mind for you to have landed here, right? The idea of forgiving them seems impossible and feels like you are letting them off the hook for all the hurt they caused. Any of this resonate? If so, you're in the right place.

Define Forgiveness

Forgiveness can have many different definitions and we need to first understand what we are talking about.

  • Is it the act of giving up the debt that is owed to you?

  • Perhaps it's the choice to move forward, even in the absence of an apology?

  • Or does it involve accepting that the past, no matter how painful, cannot be altered?

Understanding forgiveness is a bit like figuring out a map with different routes that make sense at different times or situations. You don't have to stick to just one definition; it's more about what feels right for you in a particular moment.

Forgiveness and Acceptance

In the gentle embrace of forgiveness, there is a tender acknowledgment of the pains endured, a recognition that feelings are valid and deserving of understanding. Think of acceptance as a target and forgiveness being the bow and arrow. Acceptance, like a distant yet pivotal goal, represents the embracing of reality—the acknowledgment of pain, the recognition of imperfections, and the understanding that some aspects of life are beyond our control. Forgiveness, on the other hand, becomes the powerful instrument, the arrow that propels us toward this target of acceptance. We may not be able to accept everything that happened but maybe there is a part. For example, accepting that....

  • We cannot change the past

  • We did the best we could

  • Hurt people, hurt others

  • Our emotions are valid

  • Accepting that we did not do anything to deserve the hurt we experienced

In life, there are various situations, each with its own mix of elements that might be easier or tougher to accept. These aspects, essentially, are like your individual targets. It's important to note that accepting these parts doesn't mean turning a blind eye or pretending everything is "okay." Notice how I did not accept that action that hurt us? It's not about accepting the hurtful action itself—whether it's lying, cheating, stealing, or anything else. Those actions are not okay, and your emotions about them are completely valid. So, while we work on accepting different parts of a situation, we want to be clear: forgiveness isn't about brushing aside the hurtful actions, but rather finding a way to navigate and heal despite them.

The Unforgivable

Now, there are going to be some aspects, like the actions or intentions, that feel impossible to forgive. That's okay! You do not need to forgive every aspect of the situation. Forgive what you can accept. That is already a great place.

Here's where boundaries become crucial. You've likely come across the phrase "forgive and forget" often, but the reality is that forgetting can be challenging, especially when it involves protecting yourself from similar situations. Instead of aiming to forget, we can pivot and use this principle for setting boundaries. It's about learning from the past, recognizing the need to safeguard ourselves, and establishing clear limits to ensure we don't find ourselves in a similar situation again. This shift in perspective acknowledges the importance of self- preservation while embracing the wisdom gained from our experiences.

Setting boundaries means understanding that while forgiveness is a release, it also involves making informed choices to protect your own well-being. It's a delicate balance that allows for healing without compromising your own needs and values.

So to answer the initial question, you tell me! Would accepting that you did not deserve to be cheated on and setting boundaries so this person cannot hurt you again aid in healing? Of course every situation is different. Maybe a good place to start could be looking at what we can accept vs what we can't.

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