Holding back on forgiving…who does it really hurt?

March 29


Are these 3 beliefs holding you back from the gift of forgiveness?

A couple years ago while going through my first year of studies to be a licensed Practitioner within the Centers for Spiritual Living, a year that requires a deep inward inspection in order to heal any trauma and/or release thoughts and beliefs that are holding one back, the topic of forgiveness came up.  I believe at that point, I was like most and though I knew “about” forgiveness, but I was wrong, happily wrong.  And like others I had heard of, I found a whole new sense of freedom through really forgiving, both others and myself.

I want to share with you the top three beliefs I believe that keep people from gaining the full benefits of forgiveness. What you don’t know about forgiveness is hurting only you.

#1.  Forgiving someone makes what they did right or “okay.

The most important idea of forgiveness is that we are forgiving the person, NOT their behavior or action.  By forgiving, we are not condoning their choices and we are also not denying our pain and/or the trauma that they have caused.  What we are doing is answering their behavior from a higher spiritual level of love. We are choosing to love them in spite of the pain that they have caused. No one hurts another, ever from a place of love no matter what they say. Hurt comes from hurt. In order to sooth their hurt, we are offering love. Something I do all the time in relationships of all kinds is think about if I would like to be treated the way I am treating others. If I did hurt someone, and we all know when have caused another pain, would I prefer them to answer me back simply by getting back at me in a quick reaction of hurt, or when they were ready to, offer me forgiveness and compassion.


#2.  I am hurting them by withholding my forgiveness.

Holding this belief is all about control and lack of self-love. “I’ll get back at them!  They asked for forgiveness and I told them no! Let them choke on their regret.” I believe a part of this negative belief comes from the irrational belief that you are controlling a situation that has really, already happened. At an unconscious level we are blaming ourselves for what happened, or are fearful that we cannot prevent it from happening again and so our weapon is to deny the other what they are seeking.

This irrational belief can be summed up in these two quotes from Buddha:

“Holding onto anger {choosing not to forgive} is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

“Holding onto anger {choosing not to forgive} is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

  1. Forgiveness is for the weak!

I know I heard this thought in my head many times until I really looked at it.  This is our pride stepping up to defend us.  This may happen because we cannot admit that we have been hurt, that we do feel pain. Unfortunately much of the media portray forgiveness as being weak, so we feel strong by holding onto something anything. The sages and wise men of the past and today know that it takes courage, compassion and love to be able to admit you have been hurt, but still offer forgiveness. Make no mistake about it, forgiveness is not always easy, but it is worth it! Think about it again in reverse, when someone offers to forgive what mistakes I have done to them, I see them as strong, not weak. In truth, holding back on forgiveness, make us weak, not the other.


Bonus: Before we offer forgiveness to another, we must first give it to ourselves!

Here is a truth of Life I strongly believe in: In each moment, everyone is doing the best they can, where they are at, with what they have and who they are. I know that even when I have made the worst mistakes in my life which have caused pain to another, in that moment I did what I could and best….again in that moment.  It’s easy to look back and say to ourselves, “I should have, could have made this choice instead…but we didn’t!  And that is why it’s important to forgive ourselves, to offer love to our imperfections in order to heal and then make a better choice next time.  And in recognizing that I can make a horrible mistake, even on purpose at the time, I can also know that others can too.

Forgiveness offers healing to both the giver and the receiver.  What a gift!


Would you like some support in forgiving yourself or others? Are you ready to live your life in a more freer, fuller and expanded way?



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