Before delving into the intricate landscape of forgiveness, take a moment to consider your own understanding. What does forgiveness mean to you? How do you recognize when forgiveness has taken root within you? Can forgiveness co-exist with anger? This exploration is a deeply personal journey, so pause for a moment to connect with your own sentiments.
Forgiveness offers various definitions:
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. Imagine it as your friendly guide through the twists and turns of life, helping you make sense of all sorts of feelings and situations. Sure, it sounds good in theory, but in reality, it's not always easy to put these ideas into action. If you find yourself grappling with where to start, rest assured that you are not alone, and this exploration is precisely where you need to be.
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.
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.
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.
I hope this provides some guidance in your forgiveness journey; allowing you to forgive what you can accept and set boundaries around what you can't.