Ah, forgiveness. One of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself. Why, then, do so few people give themselves that gift?
Because they confuse forgiveness with trust.
The two have nothing to do with each other. Trust is about the wrong-doer, and forgiveness is not.
There is a person who thinks I’m a waste of good oxygen. This person spends a lot of their own energy telling others stories about me, trying to make them dislike me as much as they do. For a long time, I was very upset by this – after all, these are people who don’t know me well enough to hear the lies, and many of them were judging me based on the stories they heard.
Then one day, I thought about it logically.
1. I can’t make this person like me – tried and failed many times.
2. I can’t make this person quit telling whoppers about me – not in my power.
3. I can’t make the people hearing the lies like me in spite of them.
In fact, the only thing I was in control of was how I chose to react. How I chose to feel. So I decided to get logical about that part of the equation.
1. My feelings are my choice, and I need to feel better about this situation.
2. If I make up a story in my mind about this person that might explain the poor behavior, then I can feel better.
3. Once the story is in place, it’s like a shield for my feelings – I no longer have to get upset when I hear another new whopper.
The story I made up is that this is a very broken person. I didn’t break her and it’s not in my power to fix her. So I forgive her for lying about me, because apparently it’s not in her power to stop.
And as soon as that forgiveness was in place, the situation was no longer upsetting to me. Is this person still telling stories? All the time. Do those stories bother me now? Not at all.
But will I ever trust this person? No. Forgiveness is about me – trust is about her.
When someone hurts or harms you, you’re right to be stingy with your trust for them. Depending on what they did and how they apologized/atoned or didn’t, you may or may not ever be able to trust them again.
But you must forgive them if you want to stay on the path to a happier life. Forgiveness has nothing to do with them – it’s all about you. Just as acid corrodes the vessel that tries to hold it, bad feelings and thoughts corrode you. They hold you apart from the happiness you seek, and those feelings are physically harmful to you, too.
It’s not necessary to “work through” past hurts in order to let them go. Take a short cut – let them go. Quit telling the story, either inside your head or to others. Quit feeling like a victim, and forgive the person who wronged you.
Then, forgive the person who has held you in that place of pain – you.
For a happier life, forgive everyone, including you, right now, and see how much lighter your life will feel!
Sandy Weaver Carman is an expert on happiness and how to create more at work, at home and in life. She’s an award-winning author, co-author of the Amazon #1 seller, Happiness Recipe, and works with organizations to boost
morale, productivity and the bottom line. You can learn more about the Happiness is Job One! keynotes, seminars
and workshops on the about page.