If you scored 20 or less you are extremely well-adjusted, mature and can close this presentation. If you scored between 20 and 30, where most people generally fall, you need to watch your reactions and work with the principles outlined here. Anything over 30 your ability to experience happiness in life is substantially, even severely curtailed.
Forgiveness is the understanding that, given the other person’s character, knowledge, values, insecurities, fears and past experiences, that person could not have behaved differently. The proclivities, nature, instincts and fears of a tiger cause it to maul a farmer. Forgiveness is the understanding that a tiger is, in the final analysis, an animal and cannot behave otherwise.
However, while we can forgive we do not forget. We do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves, our family and loved ones and even resort to the use of force if necessary. When we operate on the level of forgiveness we understand the impulses and influences to which the tiger is susceptible. While we may have to put the tiger down, we do not exact revenge on the entire species. One can still be forgiving and act strongly, even forcefully.
Forgiveness is not synonymous with weakness. It is when we forgive AND forget that we encounter problems. When we are naïve, foolish and governed by sentimentality we go back into the forest to pet the cute little kitty cat thinking that our goodwill will bring about a different result!
A weak person will remain with an abusive spouse thinking that they should show “kindness”, “compassion”, and “love”. The forgiving person will understand the influences at work all the while recognizing that their spouse needs professional help. This forgiving person will remove him or herself from the situation and contact the authorities so that the person does not victimize others.
The advantage here is that the forgiving person is no longer being abused and subjected to harm and in addition can move forward with their own life better suited to prevent past resentments from entering into and hampering future relationships.
Apologies do not require courage or strength of character, forgiveness does. Listen to the terminology. You “give” an apology whereas you “seek” forgiveness. When you give an apology you are still closed to understanding, closed to truth, closed to change and influence. In forgiveness you are open to the others’ influence because you come from a position of personal strength and security.
An apology differs from forgiveness in that an apology is self-centered, self-involved and self -concerned. We may apologize for moral, political or social reasons. Sometimes we apologize just to get what we want and at other times to appear like the better person, to “claim the moral high ground” as it were. An apology is the mentality that “I am giving this apology because if I do not I will in some way be hurt, disadvantaged or lose something I want.”
An apology is short term. When you give an apology you are highly likely to repeat the offense with a different person at a different time but when the same set of circumstances presents themselves. In forgiveness the probability of you repeating the offense is practically nil.
When you trespass upon another apologize, while keeping in mind the 3 inherent dangers of course. Look within yourself with honesty and apologize for your mistake. Recognize, identify and acknowledge the qualities, values, fears and insecurities to which you are susceptible and gives rise your to behavior and actions. Make a personal commitment to address those predilections as best you can and apologize.
The only time to ask for an apology is when you don’t need one. The only time to ask for an apology is when you have already forgiven the other their trespass, are happy in yourself and do not require the apology. To ask for an apology when you really “need” it and want it is asking for trouble. But if you don’t need the apology then why ask for it? Good question!
Write a letter to the person who has offended, hurt or upset you and don’t mince your words. Write exactly what you feel, why you feel that way, and how upset, angry and frustrated you are with that person. If you have offended someone write a letter of apology to him or her. You don’t have to send the letter, you can keep it or burn it, be that is it may. However, the act of writing the letter gives acknowledgment and clarity to the reality of the situation.
Take a few minutes out in the day and visualize either forgiving that person or seeking their forgiveness, whatever is the case. However, don’t visualize the hurt itself because then you are merely stewing in your own juices like soaking in dirty bath water. Visualize both the act of forgiving and being forgiven.
When you have transgressed upon another and have feelings of guilt and don’t know how to cope then confide in another trusted person. This will bring you closer to the courage necessary in seeking forgiveness. Confiding in another when you feel someone has transgressed upon you can be extremely helpful in beginning the process of forgiveness.
Forgiving persons carry knowledge, not grudges into future relationships; forgiving persons carry strength, not fear into future relationships; forgiving persons carry the self-confidence that they can handle whatever their new relationships hold for them, not feelings of insecurity, fear and self-doubt.