I have held a lot of resentment and grudges in my life and it has held me back and hurt relationships in my life. “How dare that person treat me like that, I’ll never let that happen again” was a common thing that went through my head until I learned a secret. Forgiveness is not about them, it’s about me.
Have you ever come across someone and they seemed nice but they remind you of someone in your life that treated you badly and you just could not get along with them even though they kept proving that they were a good person? This is what happens when you hold onto resentment can hurt future and present relationships. These situations are frustrating and can hold you back at work, in your dating life or even with a spouse. They are also a great opportunity to look at old grudges and overcome them.
Forgiveness is not about them, it’s for you. Let me state that again, forgiveness is not about them, it's for you. I used to think that if I forgave someone that I had to let them back into my life, that it somehow benefited them or that it would leave me vulnerable to that thing happening again, to letting that hurt in again. Although on some level that can be true it’s actually not the case. Someone unlike that person can come along and do the same thing to you and although some part of you thinks that by holding that grudge it will keep you safe it’s not necessarily true. We hold onto that grudge for the simple fact that we have the illusion that it will keep us from repeating the same mistakes, patterns or behaviour. It can take over how we react on a subconscious level and hurt new relationships.
When you forgive you don’t have to let that person back in; allow yourself to be used again; be vulnerable to that person again; go back to them; or even allow them back into your life. It’s about letting go of the story of what happened, letting go of the fear. Forgiveness is about learning from the situation and moving on. If you can shift your perspective to hat didI learn? How can I do better next time? Did it make you stronger? When you reflect on it you may find that you are a better person, a stronger person, for going through it. If you can look at the situation without the story behind it you may find that how you feel about it changes.
If you were a child when it happened there may be another piece to put into place. As children we have no control over the circumstances of our lives. We were typically naive and not very worldly. We did not have the skills that we have today. We may also have been told that it was our fault. The truth is that typically whatever bad thing happened it was not our fault and we were helpless. We have to let go of the story that we could have done things differently or should have known better. It's time to let that story go, you are safe in this moment, you are safe 99.9999% of your life and if you can hold on to that you may be able to let forgiveness happen and find a freedom that opens up so much more in your life.
Forgiveness is about letting go of the story of what happened. It’s about you and how you will be in the world from this day forward. It’s about looking ahead instead of looking behind. It’s about trusting instead of living in fear. When you are able to let go of the story, the grudge and the wound you may find that something good comes from it. Relationships repair themselves. Some of those relationships may be current and some from the passed. Taking away the obstacle of the story can be very healing.
At the end of the day most grudges do nothing but harm us with the illusion of keeping you safe, it's why we hold on to them. I have seen in my own life that when I let go of my story about what happened that there is usually so much more to it then I thought. Sometimes it opened up new friendships; sometimes old disagreements disappeared; sometimes a family member and I were able to get along like we had not in years; and sometimes I just felt better about myself and what had happened.