Q: I think it is impractical to forgive someone who has harmed you or your loved ones. I feel this way even though I have been brought up in a family with strong religious beliefs and values on ‘loving our neighbors’. I also feel that it is silly to forgive people whom you have helped, but now turn their backs on you, even maliciously doing things to hurt you. What do you think?
A: The ability to forgive is an extraordinary human feat because not many people can do it. Like you, many also feel it is silly and not practical. But those who can do it are those who can elevate themselves beyond the person who hurt them and in turn, gain dignity, pride, and the personal freedom that frees one from hatred, anger, frustration, or any kind of disempowering feeling.
To forgive, you need to change your negative perception and numb your disempowering feelings about the person. See the person who has hurt you differently, for instance, they may desperately need help. Then refocus your energies and attention on something else that is more empowering. See yourself as someone kind and compassionate with the ability to rise above the person who has hurt you. Talk about it to a good friend who can soothe you. Go out, do something else, and just forget it.
- What is another way of looking at this person who has hurt or harmed you?
- What will the perspective be like when you put humanity and compassion into it?
- What will this do for you?
- Who can support you to make a change in the way you see this person?
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