Forgiveness is a Choice Not an Obligation
We all have been told over and over that forgiveness is the only way we can truly heal the wounds in our soul. But when does forgiveness become the enemy of our freedom rather than the catalyst?
So many times we have been told to "be the bigger person." "Let it go." "Forgive and forget."
Sometimes a wrong has been done. Before we have had time to process our anger, our feelings of betrayal, loss, abandonment, grief, or the myriad of emotions that pummel us, we are encouraged to "get over it."
When the offender is still in our lives and we are faced with interaction on a day to day basis, this can be excruciating. We stuff down our emotions and maybe even feel guilty for them. We are told we are being selfish. Our feelings are invalidated, marginalized or denied. We may begin to question our own inability to move on.
We are not required to deny our pain so that someone else can continue to offend without consequence or feel better about themselves!
Sometimes the right thing to do is require a consequence for bad behavior. This does not mean we seek vengeance or secretly wish evil on the offender. However, if we are in pain, it is okay to acknowledge and address the source of the harm. It is okay to take our time moving on. We may need to eliminate the person from our lives or at least limit our time with them.
When toxic people are given a free pass because they are family, or because they didn't mean to do whatever they did or some other contributing factor, and there is no remorse and little consequences, forgive and forget is not the best course of action.
The choice to love ourselves enough to make tough choices is not selfish. Never allow shame to convince you that your emotions are not valid or that you are being selfish or unreasonable.
Create healthy boundaries.
Amends may need to be made.
No one gets a free pass.
Consequences for bad behavior is a given.
No one has the right to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a choice that you make on your own without pressure from others because it feels good to do so, not because it is expected of you or because you think it's the right thing to do. Forgiveness only becomes toxic if you are denying your own feelings, forgiving because you feel guilty for not doing so or obligated to forgive out of loyalty, altruism or some other emotion other than love.
If you believe that someone else has more of a right to feel good than you do, and you need to overlook bad behavior to keep the peace or to save face, then your forgiveness is toxic. It is toxic to you, and it is toxic to the offender!
Trust is earned, not freely given. When trust is broken, it takes a long time to earn it back. Sometimes it never comes back. That is just how it is.
Your feelings are valuable and you have the right to choose when forgiveness is something you want to do. You get to decide!
Don't allow outside pressure to dictate to you when forgiveness is appropriate. When you are ready to let go of the offense, you will know. Until then, listen to your soul and heal your own feelings related to the offense.
We need to stop giving people a free pass for bad behavior.
It is also imperative that you look in the mirror and see what the offense is teaching you about yourself. Maybe your soul wants you to stand up for yourself and demand to be treated with respect. Maybe you need to learn an important truth about your own lack of integrity in some area of your life. Maybe at some point you committed a similar offense and you have not forgiven yourself. Maybe your mother gave your father a free pass for a similar offense and you are repeating learned behavior. Maybe you were not nurtured as a child and so you don't feel you have a right to be valued and cherished.
When you forgive someone for an offense purely out of love, you will feel free. You will no longer be bound to the offender because of the offense. You will be giving a gift to yourself. You are freeing yourself from a desire for retribution or justice. This frees the Universe to appropriate justice in the way that is best for everyone concerned.
A lot of people feel that the Universe is unjust. That good things happen to bad people or that bad things happen to good people. That life is not fair. Sometimes the only power we have in our own mind is the power to forgive or to hold someone accountable.
The truth is, sometimes life is not fair! We come into life as a soul knowing that we are not playing on a fair playing ground. Some people do seem to come into life with more in their favor than others.
What we need to understand is that the ones who seem to have the world in the palm of their hands also have lessons to learn that may be different from ours. If we seem to have been handed an unfair set of circumstances, we have the opportunity to face those challenges with tanacity and a never-give-up attitude. The ones who have the most challenges to overcome end up further along in the race than the ones who seem to sail through life with fair skies and a soft breeze.
The winners in the game of life is not who dies with the most toys. Sometimes the winners are the ones who don't seem to be. Every soul is born with an individual reason for being here. The only criteria for the winner of the race is who dies having completed their mission. And everyone's mission is different. One soul's mission may be to learn how to forgive while another soul's mission may be to stand up for themeselves and hold other people accountable.
Just for today, stand up for yourself. Take back your right to own your own feelings and to decide when forgiveness is a healthy choice for you. Forgive when it feels good to do so. Don't give people in your life a free pass just because you think it is the nice thing to do. Hold bad behavior accountable.
Remember you are actually giving others a gift when you demand consequences for bad behavior. You are teaching them the value of respect and empathy.
Forgive when appropriate. Stand up for yourself and make healthy choices even if it seems to affect others in a difficult way. Be true to yourself.
In a world where it is almost expected to forgive if you are a spiritual person, this was not an easy blog to write, and it certainly speaks to me as well. Maybe soon I will have a chat about toxic faith, or toxic love! They exist too!
If you feel guided to book a personal session with me, you can do that here!
As we get closer to the final weeks of the year, I only have a couple of events planned until next year. You can check them out here and see what else is going on with me!
My books are available for purchase for yourself or for that open minded friend or family member!
See you next week!