top of page

Section 2: INCREASING THE GOODNESS IN OUR LIVES

 

FORGIVENESS

A Tool to Use to Change the Future

 

This is a tough one because it’s easier to hold someone “in contempt” than to work to forgive them and put the reason or circumstance behind us. Plus, keeping the fault indicator squarely on the other person relieves us of any responsibility for what occurred. But, developing a willingness to forgive is a very important skill because it improves relationships and helps people live and work together in a more effective way. This lesson is intended to help you think more about the importance of forgiveness and, as a result, to become a more forgiving person.

The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. 

Mahatma Gandhi

 

At times, almost everyone gets mad or highly irritated with other people. Your first experience of getting mad probably came early in life when another child snatched a toy away from you or bumped into you on the playground. As you got older, it may have been someone at school or at the place you worked who said or did something that “teed you off.”  As you make your way through adulthood, you continue to encounter moments when you get upset, sometimes very much so, with other people. Since you can’t totally prevent these circumstances from happening, the question is this: What can you do to fix or repair these conflicts? 

 

The answer is this: You can forgive the other person. Granted, it may take some effort on your part, but in almost every circumstance you can find a path to forgiveness. Sometimes it may happen quickly, sometimes it may take a little longer. But you can forgive someone if you choose to do so.

Forgiveness is a process that starts with a choice—simply the choice to forgive. That choice may be reflected in an open admission that says “I’m sorry” in some way. Sometimes we may just say the words internally to ourselves to begin the process. At other times, the words may be offered in person or through a text to someone with whom we need to “mend fences.” 

Spirit of Goodness to become an increasingly important influence in your life.

Once such words as “I’m sorry, let’s move on” are expressed, the other individual will almost always respond in a positive way. If together at the time, they may be touched enough to initiate a handshake or possibly even a hug. While the forgiveness process may take some time to complete, it always starts with someone making the choice to reach out to the other person in an apologetic or forgiving way.

It Happens to All of Us

Three Things that Help Us Forgive

 

Granted, forgiveness can be a slow process at times, but the time required to forgive can be shortened if we acknowledge these three things:

First, acknowledge that what is done is done.

 

If the deed is done, there is nothing we or others can go back and change no matter how much we may want to. It’s true that some offenses are worse than others, and the process of forgiveness may take longer or, in extreme circumstances, be nearly impossible to achieve. But in the vast majority of situations, the process can be initiated by accepting that the deed is done and by making the choice to move forward from there. Moving on does not excuse the wrongdoing. It just releases us from carrying the hurt and anger forward on our journey. 

Second, acknowledge that we all make mistakes. 

Spirit of Goodness to become an increasingly important influence in your life.

 

Let’s face reality: we aren’t perfect. No one is. We shouldn’t expect perfection from anyone, and that includes parents, siblings, spouses, or best friends. We have to offer the same acceptance of imperfection to others that we would like for others to give us. We’re going to make mistakes, and so are the people around us. While we don’t get up each day expecting someone to hurt us or do wrong to us, we shouldn’t be totally surprised when human errors and mistakes occur. People around us are going to get things wrong…and so are we. 

Third, acknowledge that the future can be much better if we forgive today. 

 

We have to remind ourselves that if we “let it go” and move on, there is an opportunity—for us and others—to accomplish better things in the future. Extended or lifelong grudges seldom hurt the other guy, but they almost always create unhappiness in our own lives. The process of forgiveness not only relieves us of this feeling, but it also sets the stage for everyone to accomplish better things in the days ahead. 

And What about Forgiving Ourselves

 

We have a tendency to carry around our own mistakes for a long time, especially if we’ve made a big one. We can mentally beat up on ourselves for years for something that we can never go back and change. Personal forgiveness, like that which we offer to others, starts with a choice . . . the choice to forgive ourselves and work to live a better life. The three points above apply to personal forgiveness as well, but the third one is of particular importance. We must focus our thoughts and efforts on accomplishing something better in the future if we want to start leaving the past behind today.

Personal development requires learning from our mistakes. When we learned to ride a bike, we misjudged our speed at times and went faster than we could control. Sometimes, we leaned too far to one side and caused ourselves to get off balance. Well, it’s also easy to get off balance emotionally, physically, or even financially at times. Ever blown your credit limit or paycheck on something that turned out to be a waste of money? Have you ever misjudged your schedule and not given yourself enough time to get chores or work done? Have you been tired or frustrated and said words you regret? Laughed when you could have been sympathetic? We can’t grow and develop effectively if we carry around guilt or anger over such mistakes. Forgiving ourselves gives us an opportunity to move forward without the hurt of the past. 

Spirit of Goodness to become an increasingly important influence in your life.

As you consider the role of forgiveness in your life, reflect on these three things: you can’t change the past; all humans make mistakes; and your choice to forgive can lead to better things in the future. When you make the choice to forgive, you start to release the hold the past can have on you. This allows you, and others, to work toward better things in the future. 
 

Forgiveness—We Need to Use It Everyday 

 

It’s important to remember that forgiveness is a choice we can put to good use every day. We encounter people daily who say or do something that offends us in some way. Rather than react to these small offenses and get upset, we should “pull out” our choice of forgiveness and silently use it right then and there. Letting some things go and simply forgiving without saying a single word can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. 

Questions/Discussion Points

 

1.
Can you name someone who has hurt your feelings in the past? 
Have you forgiven that person?
If not, should you do so now…maybe text and tell them too?

2.
Should you forgive someone who has not apologized or shown remorse for their actions?

3.
How has forgiving others helped you move forward in your life?
How has being forgiven by others helped you make positive changes?

 

bottom of page