15 beliefs that are holding you back from letting go of resentment and hurt
By: Nadine Jans, MSc. RCC Clinical and Health Psychology, Founder Calm Caregiving Blueprint
You’ve probably been hurt by someone in the past.
Maybe it was recently or a long time ago.
Maybe it was a slight injury or a heavy offence.
Have you been able to forgive that person?
Maybe you’re still holding resentment or anger towards that person.
There is a sense of injustice.
Maybe you feel that person acted unfair and you’re still waiting for him/her to finally apologize.
However, that person may not even know or care (!) that they mistreated you.
So why would you forgive someone who is ignorant or doesn’t even care!?
I get it.
Most people have difficulty with forgiveness, particularly if a person doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, right?
But here’s the thing….
For many ‘forgiveness’ sounds like a change in judgment or evaluation.
It sounds like, “I used to think you were wrong, but now I’ve changed my mind.”
Even worse, it may sound like emotional avoidance: forgetting old angers and hurts, excusing, and denying.
No, that is not what this is about.
Forgiveness is something else.
If you have difficulty to forgive someone, you may be holding on to one or more misconceptions around forgiveness.
Let’s take a look at some of these misconceptions and look at what forgiveness is NOT.
Forgiveness is NOT:
1. Telling the person that what they did is OK. It is not pardon or legal mercy
2. It’s also not forgetting (forgetting would leave you vulnerable to the offence again)
3. Letting time heal the wound (forgiving is active rather than passive)
4. Abandoning resentment (we might let go of resentment but still not forgive)
5. Possessing positive feelings (we might feel positive towards an individual, but still not forgive them)
6. Telling them that you forgive them (you can forgive without using specific words)
7. Condoning or excusing
8. A quick fix (forgiveness is a process and takes time, and progress may fluctuate)
9. Reconciliation (you can come together again, but still not forgive and you can forgive, but decide to go separate ways)
10. Accepting what happened (we could accept the facts of an event but not forgive, accepting may be a part of forgiveness but not all acceptance is forgiveness)
11. Justification (you can forgive, but don’t have to believe their action was fair)
12. Accepting what happened knowing that God will punish them (this approach focuses more on justice than forgiveness)
13. Saying “I have the satisfaction of not letting the person get to me”
14. Letting the other person know how much they owe you (this is a form of revenge and is using the misdeed/transgression as a weapon)
So tell me then, what in the world is forgiveness then!?!
Taken literally, it means to “give that which came before.” It means repairing what was lost. “Give” and “gift” both come from the Latin word “gratis,” which means “free.” In that sense, forgiveness is not earned – it is free.
Contrary to popular belief, the gift of forgiveness is not one we give to others.
Giving what went before is most particularly not a gift to the wrongdoer.
It is a gift to yourself!
If one cannot give the grace that went before a wrongdoing, even if it was valuable, then life’s injustices are made permanent. And they are made permanent by the victim’s action, not by the actions of the perpetrator.
What are the costs of holding onto resentment?
Does it ever bring the peace and satisfaction that you are hoping for?
Who does it ultimately hurt?
Forgiveness does not mean we have to stay the victim or let the offence recur.
After forgiveness you can still take a different path toward a different direction.
You can absolutely still decide that you will not keep in touch or see each other anymore.
When we are hurt because of the actions of another person or of ourselves, it’s like we are caught on a fishing hook.
The pain seems to grab us and limit our movement.
Our usual reaction is revenge to try to get the person who may have caused our pain to feel the same, by hooking them.
However, the problem with this strategy is that we usually wind up sticking them with the same hook we are caught on. It’s like we are on the hook, and they are on top of us.
You can’t get yourself off the hook and let go of the pain, because they are blocking the way.
If you are completely invested in keeping the other person on the hook, you are also certainly never going to be able to be free yourself.
Forgiveness is letting the person off the hook so you can get yourself off too.
It does not require you to change the way you feel, how you think, or whether or not you approve of what happened.
It is simply a choice you make to let that person go so you can move on with your life.
If forgiveness was a choice you could make, one that would allow you to move past old hurts, would you take it?
Forgiveness starts with a mental decision.
It may not be come easy, and it may not be a one-time event.
It is an arduous process, but it provides the ultimate freedom in the end.
So tell me, what is your relationship with forgiveness? What helps you to move on?
Please leave a comment below!