To Forgive or To Forget

To Forgive or To ForgetSome people say that forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. Ironically, the future and the present are caused by the past, and thereby the past becomes our future and the present defines our past. And the causes and the effects mix to such a level that it is hard to even understand where it all started in the first place and where it will lead.

For me, besides gratitude, forgiveness is the single most powerful way to create lasting change for the better in relationships.

The story of a young man perfectly describes the effect of “cause and the effect” – he arrived home from work to find that his partner of ten years had left. A note on the kitchen table said that she didn’t love him anymore and she’d had enough of his abuse. Of course, this was unexpected for him as he thinks all is just fine. And his attempts to contact her wer made impossible by her blocking any communication from him.

The man feels betrayed and angry and directs all his negativity towards his partner. The man becomes stuck in his projection of the situation and can see things from only one perspective – the one he knows.

The man’s background is the he was raised by his father and his mother who left him and his father when he was still very young. He saw her every now and then but not very often and these meetings never went well.

It’s easy to imagine what this man’s script beliefs about women and relationships would be and how things would ultimately turn out for him.

And, of course the man hasn’t really forgiven his mother for what she did. At one point he realizes that his unfinished business with his mum, may have contributed to his current dilemma and he starts to see things a little differently. He now is able to consider that there was a self-fulfilling prophecy at play here. But that doesn’t help with his anger and his belief that his mum and his partner should somehow be made to pay for what they did.

The question is – what if, despite what we do, people just don’t get that what they did was wrong?

The answer to this question may be not an easy one. Or maybe it is very easy. The man just has to release himself from his ties to these women and his past. The only way to do this is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not about exonerating the other of their wrong doing, nor ourselves for that matter, but it is about coming to understand that just as we are a product of our past so too is everyone and that there is always a reason for what we do, for good and for bad.

Once the man can get out of his script belief, that all women are like his mother and will ultimately abandon him, through that understanding and eventual forgiveness he is able to have a different mindset to understand that these two women simply knew no better at the time; they were acting out of their own script beliefs.

The women who had hurt him so deeply have to learn their own lessons and find forgiveness for what they, or those around them, had done. In this context forgiveness may be considered a selfish act and maybe it is. But we can’t learn another’s lessons for them; we can only learn our own and make new decisions based on that learning to ensure a different outcome in the future.

And if we view the big picture we can be sure to notice that in one sense we are all somehow victims of victims, and from those negative scripts we can all hurt those we supposedly care for most.

Once we understand the mindset of the other person, the perspective changes, the invisible becomes visible and it all starts to make sense, and the man starts to feel less as a victim and more as a learner.

Forgiveness is an integral part of learning and ensuring that our future lives and relationships aren’t tainted by unresolved thoughts and feelings from our past.

Your “vision” is what I call your mental picture of something you really want. To make it a reality, though, you need to be able not only to see it in your mind, but also to smell it, feel it, hear it, and imagine the actions that go with it. A vision must inspire you for you to be willing to put in a concentrated effort to make it real.

Describe your vision for each part of your life; work, love, relationships, parenting, health etc. You do this by asking yourself the question; “How do I want my life to be in this part?” and answer it by describing all the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that would be present if this part of your life was the best it could be.

You can find the full exercise to help with your vision in my book “Love, Lies and the Games Couples Play” available on Amazon.

To the wonder of you,

 

 

 

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