Saturday, 19 April 2014
Have Questions~Have Answers? #14- Can forgiveness be a selfish act?
Why is it that the emphasis on forgiveness is always that forgiveness benefits the offender? We so often believe that the offender needs to be forgiven so that they are able to have a clear conscious and go about their business minus one extra burden.
Let's try a little reversal for a change. How does the act of forgiveness benefit the person who is doing the forgiving? The answer remain more-or-less the same. Forgiveness will lift the burden from your shoulders, the burden of carrying around a painful experience because pain is always the essence of situations requiring forgiveness; pain generates powerful emotions which usually harbour negative feelings- resentment, guilt, dislike, anger. Once you forgive someone it is time to let go of the painful situation and all the bad feelings associated with it. Forgiveness really does set you free and although it may not be instant, you can cultivate forgiveness by harbouring the need to move your thoughts forwards everytime a particular situation from your past creeps into your mind.
Forgiveness can be so personal that nobody else need be involved- there is nothing that says you have to tell someone they are forgiven, so it is possible to forgive people whom we no longer have any contact with- people from our past who have moved on or people who are still around but we no longer have any dealings with.
What do you do if someone asks for forgiveness before you are ready or able to forgive them? This is a tough one. I think my approach would be to say that I'm not feeling in a position to deal with it at the moment and to go away and try to focus on the positive side of that person. It is when we see the good that we are able to leave the bad behind. This may take time, but a willing attitude will help. If you can't see anything good about the other person, focus on the good things in your own life and be thankful. When we appreciate the good in our lives it helps us to acquire more of a generous spirit towards others and subtle changes are likely to occur in our nature making it easier to revisit difficult times. Once you feel ready to forgive you can always go back to the person.
Some people are quite forgiving whilst others find it very difficult. Most things that we find difficult become easier with practice and forgiveness is exactly the same. Once mastered the person who will benefit the most from a forgiving nature is you, so go ahead and see how much difference a little forgiveness makes to your life.
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