When we're looking at things from a place of pure ego, the thought of forgiveness sucks. You mean, someone does something wrong to me and I release them from blame? And why would I want to do that again? Revenge is a dish best served cold. What's in it for me? I'm right and he's wrong.
I started thinking about forgiveness as a principle when I was writing about Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal and my mother asked, "Whatever happened to forgiveness?" I'm not sure whether she was speaking about Weiner's constituents forgiving him, his pregnant wife forgiving him, or maybe even Weiner forgiving himself for those awful twitpics but it was a good question. I do believe in forgiveness after we have had sufficient time to react, be angry or grieve the situation.
What do our greatest scholars have to say about whether to forgive or not forgive? Mark Twain put it most poetically when he said, ""Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." True indeed. A Chinese proverb prophesies, "He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself." And then of course, there's the classic wisdom of Oscar Wilde: "Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
Is forgiveness a lost art? As judgmental as I often am, I hope not.
Ho... oponopono is the traditional Hawaiian practice of seeking forgiveness and attempting to remove ego from the process of reconciliation. The mantra, repeated to another party or as a prayer follows different versions of: "I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? It bears noting that forgiveness doesn't always mean that y'all are headed to Payless tomorrow to split a BOGO special or yucking it up over mojitos. The person doesn't even have to be sorry for you to forgive them. Forgiving just means that you are willing to release you both from the binding turmoil of a grudge, guilt and blame. Maybe there is someone that you need to ask for forgiveness instead. Most often however, we just need to learn how to forgive ourselves.
At any rate, here's how to forgive your romantic partner in 9 agonizing steps after you have wallowed in all of the anger and grief you can stand.
- Remind yourself of your own follies, foibles, mistakes and missteps. Drop the judgement and self-righteousness. None of us is perfect.
- Remember why you were with this person to begin with. What are the good things about this person? What are their redeeming qualities?
- The 5 Year Test. Imagine how you'll feel about the offense 5 or 10 years from now. Is it worth the grief?
- Realize that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Stress can shorten your life expectancy. Is this issue or this person worth that?
- Whatever your spiritual beliefs, try to see your partner as your higher power (as you understand it) sees the person and their behavior. This is true compassion.
- Actively build new memories. If you're trying to forgive someone and your frame of reference becomes only the crappy things that they did you won't be able to move forward.
- Time. I know that it sounds trite but if we allow it to the power of time definitely helps heal wounds.
- Empathy. Try seeing the situation from the other person's point of view, if only for a moment. This may help you answer the question, what the heck were they thinking?
- Decide whether to forgive or walk away. Why stay in a situation torturing yourself and the other person? If you need to, do move on and be done with it.
And there you have it. The gift of forgiveness. To be clear, you can absolutely forgive someone and still choose to move on. The person you're forgiving could have already been out of your life for 10 years. Forgiveness is a dish that is right on time whenever it's served.
With that, I am headed into the sunshine to play. Forgive my temporary absence. As I always say, rockstars, be good. And if you can't be good, be safe.
You should also read