Who really benefits from forgiveness?

One of the most difficult parts of life is moving past the pain and hurt that someone else has caused us.  It’s often hard to let it go because we want apologies and answers for the scars left behind.  We want to know why they caused us pain or how someone could hurt us so easily.  But more often than not, we never get the answers we are looking for.

It’s completely rational to want answers or to understand why people act a certain way but you can waste countless time looking for answers that don’t exist. Sometimes there is no rationale for why people do what they do, it’s just who they are. I have come to realize that often times, the people that hurt us don’t even know why it happened, it’s just in their DNA – they are wired differently.  Sometimes it’s on accident and sometimes not. We can waste precious time searching for these answers and develop a grudge but that only causes more harm than was originally caused.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people can purposefully cause another person pain or harm without any remorse or empathy.  It sucks that people cheat, lie and steal without regard to how it affects others.  People talk behind our backs, people attack our character, judge us, and use us as stepping stones in their pursuit of their own selfish interests.  But as difficult as this is to accept, it’s even harder to accept that some people will never change.

This is why we stay in relationships long after the other person causes us pain, often more than once; we hold on to hope that things will go back to the way they were or that people will change their ways and realize the pain they have caused.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my life is that regardless of how hard we try, we can’t prevent people from trying to hurt us; all we can do is limit the pain they cause by changing the way it affects us.  Some of you reading this will disagree.  Some people believe that if you put up strong enough walls to protect yourself, no more pain will come, but I disagree.  I’ve tried that.  Sure, maybe in the short term it protects you but it also jeopardizes your ability to trust, love and be happy with the people who treat you right.  When you put up a wall, it’s up for everyone – not just the ones who hurt you and it impacts your ability to build healthy relationships in the future.

I have come to realize that as we experience pain in life, we often become more aware of our surroundings.  We begin to realize what people and situations are likely to cause us harm and if we’re smart enough, we do our best to avoid them but that’s easier said than done.

When people cause us pain, it leaves scars.  Sometimes physical, sometimes mental, sometimes both.  We often think that the more pain we experience the more pain we can tolerate but that’s often not the case either.  In fact, we become more fragile.  It takes less to set us off because our instincts put us into protection mode even quicker now.  Whether it’s mental or physical, the more pain we experience the more it affects our mood.  It may make it harder to trust people, to love people, to be vulnerable or most importantly, to be happy and this is when grudges appear.

When we hold grudges, we hold anger at the person who caused us pain because they changed the way we live our lives and the vicious cycle starts again.  The grudge makes us irritable, which in turn affects other relationships in our lives.  The time we spend holding the grudge sacrifices time that could have been spent pursuing happiness.  When we hold a grudge we take on the burden of the pain caused onto us and instead of where it belongs on the shoulders of the person who hurt us.  We may never get the apology we are looking for and the person who hurt us may never take accountability for the pain they caused but eventually we must decide to move on because forgiveness is for you.

Forgiving someone who won’t admit they were wrong is hard, but freeing because it relieves us of our grudges and it is our way of regaining control of our happiness and ability to move on.  Eventually we must decide that certain people aren’t worth our time and energy anymore and forgiveness is our way of doing that.  It’s not about giving up on people but standing your ground and demanding respect.  If people cause you pain or harm and/or fail to meet your expectations for how you deserve to be treated, they have no place in your life anymore.  When you let people back into your life after they hurt you time after time, the responsibility for the pain caused from that moment on falls in your lap.  Every moment you waste reliving the pain someone has caused you is a moment wasted that you could be spending with the people who make you happy and treat you right.  Constant reflect and frustration on past pain caused only makes future pain more likely because you subconsciously make it your new reality and expectation.

It sucks that often times the people who hurt us are the people we are closest to in our relationships, family, friends, etc but that’s the reality.  If people don’t treat us the way we deserve to be treated, they don’t deserve our time and energy.

Live the life you want to live.  Love beyond measure.  Establish clear expectations for how you deserve and desire to be treated and don’t settle for less.  If someone isn’t able to meet your expectations, treats your poorly or causes you harm, forgive them and move on.  Forgiveness is a powerful tool to regain control of your life.  Give people the opportunity to change but don’t spend valuable time wishing they would if they prove to you they won’t.  Everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes become choices when we fail to learn from them.

By: Timothy A. Natale

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4 thoughts on “Who really benefits from forgiveness?

  1. I totally agree what you said about people hurting you, i put up with that for 4 years and i am not sure how i did it but i had someone else review my situation and they gave me a better outlook on my life and then one day i said i don’t deserve this treatment so i made some strong choices to leave but a part of me didn’t want to leave because there was feelings involved and i thought i was living a normal life but i was not i was unhappy and not my happy self until my best friend got me thinking this is not the life you want to live,But i look forwarded to seeing these statements weekly ,your words really do impact me and it really does make me stop and think about my actions on a daily basis . Thank you so much for your words and the details that you have shared it really does help ! sorry for the long post i felt the need to express a little bit about my story 😉

      1. But sometimes it’s so hard I want to give up or I’m not doing good enough. My way of thinking is so Complicated

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