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Forgiveness = contentment

 I see so many cases where forgiveness appears to be unthinkable. Reasons not to forgive are manifold, and in some cases held onto for years.

The dictionary definition does not describe the journey or the strength it takes to get to the point of forgiveness. Nor does it exemplify the human need to forgive for the sake of the bearer’s emotional wellbeing. For those who have suffered at the hands of another, forgiveness does not come easily.

As a counselling psychotherapist who specialises in supporting those going through divorce or separation I see so many cases where forgiveness appears to be unthinkable. Reasons to maintain a lack of forgiveness are manifold, and in some cases held onto for years.

Sally for example, had a heartbreaking experience during the birth of her child. The child was seriously ill when born, emergency action was taken to save both Mother and child. Although she was afraid and desperate for support her husband walked out unable to cope with the situation. He left her to face all that unfolded on her own and did not even contact the hospital to see what happened furthermore he did not go home and switched his mobile phone off.  He left her not long after they were discharged. For over five years she waited for him to apologise. Did she ask him to? No she just hoped he would and she would then feel better about all that happened.

She eventually met someone new, a year into the relationship she found out he was in a relationship with someone else. Again she waited for an apology to act as an elixir for her pain.  So why did Sally wait for an apology to forgive and erase her deep rooted anguish?

Sally as do many of us had not considered what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not saying it doesn’t hurt any more. Forgiveness for Sally would mean she was no longer reliving those painful memories and mourning the relationships she hoped she would have had. Forgiveness is letting go, and accepting we can only control our own behaviour and our own perception of what occurs to us. What happened to Sally was wrong it was painful and it was not ok but to hang onto those events only served to hurt her further.

You will be happy to know she eventually accepted she would never get the apologies nor would they have made her feel better. I heard from her not long after our final session, she was really happy and in a very healthy relationship. 

If you find this story resonates with you please consider this; how long will you wait to leave your pain behind?

  • Life is not always fair.
  • Relationships are rarely equitable.
  • We all have reasons to act the way we do, often actions are subconsciously motivated.
  • Only you own your behaviour; this does not mean it is ok to act purely in our own interest.
  • It is your choice to either be happy or to remain sad.
  • Your emotional and physical wellbeing is more important than dwelling on negativity.

Forgive by letting it go, remember that does not mean it was ok. See what happened as a lesson; learn to understand what happened and how to protect yourself from future damage. Seek happiness and peace, life really is too short!