Forgiveness ≠ Condoning

When I choose to continue in anger or resentment toward someone, I often behave in ways I regret later… The feeling sucks. It does not feel good. Do I want to feel crappy? This is where it is important to ask ourselves, “Is this serving me?” and become intentional about it. Forgiveness is about you, not about the other person.”

Sometimes I don’t want to forgive someone. For something they did that hurt me or someone I love. Maybe I think it gives me power over them. Maybe it is a way of protecting myself from future harm. Maybe I think it will punish them if I have all these negative feelings toward them.

The truth is, thoughts create feelings. And my thoughts can only create feelings in me. And only I can really feel my feelings, not them. So who am I hurting when I don’t forgive somebody? Only me. This was a big realization for me a couple years ago.

Forgiveness Can Happen Without…

  • Condoning the action
  • Trusting the person
  • Seeing or even being around the person
  • A hand shake or hug
  • Saying “That’s okay.”
Google’s definition of the word:

forgive

/fəˈɡɪv/
verb
  1. stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.

Even the definition has it right when you break it down. To forgive means the forgiver stops feeling a crappy feeling.

Results of Not Forgiving

When I choose to continue in anger or resentment toward someone, I often behave in ways I regret later. I might get obsessed with how I think that person “should” have behaved. Then I might start thinking of all the other ways I would change them. I don’t like doing this. The feeling sucks. It does not feel good. Do I want to feel crappy? This is where it is important to ask ourselves, “Is this serving me?” and become intentional about it. Forgiveness is about you, not about the other person.

Forgiving Yourself

I really struggle with forgiving myself at times. Why is that? I think it is similar to the reasons I don’t want to forgive other people. I don’t want to condone what I did. If I look at the things I really have a hard time forgiving myself about, it is stuff that I really don’t want to repeat again. And just to make sure, I punish myself extra for those actions.

But when I look at the results of holding resentment toward myself (not forgiving myself), it is the same as not forgiving others. Sometimes it even makes me more likely to repeat the offense that I am trying so hard not to repeat by not forgiving myself. It is harder for me to be who I want to be and do what I want to do when I am feeling those negative emotions toward myself.

This is where we get to ask ourselves, “What thoughts am I having to create these feelings that are not actually serving me?” This is a powerful process.

This clicked for me recently. Not only can I forgive others without condoning their actions but I can also do the same for myself. I don’t have to worry that “I’m letting myself off the hook too easy.” And, in fact, letting go of all that negative energy toward myself helps me better become the man I want to be. And better fulfill my purpose on this earth.

By the way, typing this last paragraph felt amazing. I am filled with love and acceptance without condoning my mistakes. So empowering! I want to practice these thoughts some more.

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Please share your experiences with forgiving others or yourself. Make comments. Let’s get a discussion going.

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