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  1. #1
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    Default How to be a forgiving person... tips welcome

    I was going to alter up for this but decided to just go on and bare my innards, especially after reading all the family/inlaws/outlaws threads.

    Does anybody else have difficulty seeking and/or giving forgiveness? When I find myself "wronged", my default is to stew. Not for a terribly long period of time anymore, but there is definitely a lapse between the wronging and the resolution. I know sometimes there NEEDS to be some time in between, though.

    I'm getting better at shortening the gap as I get older, but still, forgiving is not natural for me and I see it as me being the weaker person if I say "I'm sorry" first.

    I'm aware of the difference in forgiving and condoning someone's behavior and that the former does not do the latter.

    Just curious if anyone else struggles with this, and how you handle it. And for those that don't have a problem with immediate forgiveness, what are your methods?
    Alis volat propriis.



  2. #2
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    Two things:

    Forgiving is not forgetting. In other words, you are on notice that you will have to watch your back with this person.

    Then you have to figure out whether you want this person in your life. If it is a relative or spouse, then maybe it will be worth it to forgive and move on, ever watchful of your back until they earn your trust again. If it is not, then you have to figure out whether your relationship with this person is worth it.

    I don't think that you need to forgive people endlessly for doing the same thing to you over and over.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  3. #3
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    Well, I'm not a grudgeholder so I can't really say how to stop doing it. But, I can tell you what I think when I make a conscious decision not to do it. Who does anger really hurt? It doesn't hurt the person you are mad at, it hurts YOU, so you are actually punishing yourself by holding onto it, rather than the offending person.

    On apologies...warranted or otherwise. They aren't a sign of weakness, they are a sign of strength...if you can apologize, you are confident enough to admit that you might have been wrong, or even just not have handled something in the best possible way. If an apology is appropriate, it shouldn't be hard. But, I sometimes even offer them when I feel I don't need to...just to defuse a situation and move from angry yelling to productive conversation. No skin off my back, I don't have to prove anything to anyone but myself.


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  4. #4
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    What Eclectic said, which is very wise. I find at the point where it's just not worth the drain of mental energy any more, best to say "meh!" Which is most of the time. Who needs to marinate in negativity?

    My mom, on the other hand, will hold a grudge to the end of the ages and back on the same people I forgave long ago--who "wronged" ME!



  5. #5
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    I look at forgiving as something I do for me, not for the person being forgiven. If I do not forgive, then that is just that much longer I hold onto and suffer the negativity of the situation and why should I suffer something done by someone else?

    It also helps to have empathy towards people - sometimes you can sort of reframe the offense in a way that at least lets you understand what drove the behavior of the offender. Not make excuses for them but understand and then forgive. For me. Not for them.


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketcher View Post
    It also helps to have empathy towards people - sometimes you can sort of reframe the offense in a way that at least lets you understand what drove the behavior of the offender. Not make excuses for them but understand and then forgive. For me. Not for them.
    Oh yes, this is important too! Even if the other person did or said something that really upset you, it can help to try to figure out WHY they might have done it. Often, it's coming from some insecurity on their part...in which case, understanding that will let you 1) not take it personally, because it's not and 2) feel a bit sorry for them, rather than angry at them.


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  7. #7
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    I have a hard time asking for forgiveness, which is why I don't usually open my mouth and say very much. Better to not say anything for which I have to ask to be forgiven! I do believe that once you say something you can't take it back, no matter how much you apologize.

    I suppose sincerity plays a part here - both in asking for forgiveness and giving it. If I did something for which I'm truly sorry, I will admit my fault and apologize. But I don't expect to grovel, so it is up to the person to accept my apology or not, but I'm not going to beg for it.

    I, too, have a hard time getting over things. I tend to make it appear as if I let them roll off my back, but really I don't and someone's rude comment or behavior forever stays with me and does have an effect on how I feel about them.

    If you're trying to work through something specific, it would help to define (to yourself) a few things:

    - what the issue is; in the grand scheme of things is it a big deal or not
    - how important the person and relationship are to you; would you miss out by having a lesser relationship with the person?
    - how much it is eating you up inside; would asking forgiveness (even if it is not given) make you feel better? would offering forgiveness make you feel better?
    - the sincerity of the requester / granter

    I have read amazing stories of forgiveness and don't know that I could go to the lengths that I've seen/heard/read about in other people. But in all of those stories I have read that it has given people peace and drawn them closer. Bless them for their kindness toward each other.
    -
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran



  8. #8
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    I definitely don't do "repeat offenders". I have learned that some people do need to be forgiven and then let go. Like, completely let go.

    I also don't hold a grudge. Ain't nobody got time for that!

    I've found as I have reached the middle years, that I need to work on turning down the static background noise in my life and, in order to do so I need to teach myself how to say, "You know, this is dumb. I shouldn't have said or did what I said or did."


    It's just not natural to me.

    Good discussion, though. Keep the ideas coming.
    Alis volat propriis.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocket Pony View Post
    I have a hard time asking for forgiveness, which is why I don't usually open my mouth and say very much. Better to not say anything for which I have to ask to be forgiven! I do believe that once you say something you can't take it back, no matter how much you apologize.

    I suppose sincerity plays a part here - both in asking for forgiveness and giving it. If I did something for which I'm truly sorry, I will admit my fault and apologize. But I don't expect to grovel, so it is up to the person to accept my apology or not, but I'm not going to beg for it.

    I, too, have a hard time getting over things. I tend to make it appear as if I let them roll off my back, but really I don't and someone's rude comment or behavior forever stays with me and does have an effect on how I feel about them.

    If you're trying to work through something specific, it would help to define (to yourself) a few things:

    - what the issue is; in the grand scheme of things is it a big deal or not
    - how important the person and relationship are to you; would you miss out by having a lesser relationship with the person?
    - how much it is eating you up inside; would asking forgiveness (even if it is not given) make you feel better? would offering forgiveness make you feel better?
    - the sincerity of the requester / granter

    I have read amazing stories of forgiveness and don't know that I could go to the lengths that I've seen/heard/read about in other people. But in all of those stories I have read that it has given people peace and drawn them closer. Bless them for their kindness toward each other.
    -
    EXCELLENT advice. Are you in my head??? LOL. The part I bolded is especially true for me as well. I have a hard time letting it go.
    Alis volat propriis.



  10. #10
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    I find that I am much more forgiving now since I've been on Lexapro. It has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I think I am more forgiving because I tend not to perseverate on things as much. I don't get so bogged down and focused on everything anymore. Yes, something might bother me or upset me, but I seem much more capable now of getting over it and moving on.

    Maybe this isn't so helpful for you, but it is my experience.
    -Debbie / NH

    My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/


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  11. #11
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    I have no answers, but I really appreciate this thread, as I'm terrible at forgiving people. Including myself.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  12. #12
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    I actually find forgiving does the opposite--I don't feel any better, but now THEY do. I find pretending to shrug it off, but filing it away, is more useful for me. But I don't think I've ever had anyone do anything REALLY heinous to me on purpose (maybe one, but I've just reduced my opinion of him and filed it away as a joke/learning experience. Since I don't have to deal with him for a variety of reasons, that's not an issue.)



  13. #13
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    Good point Wayside. I think forgetting our own mistakes is the hardest.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  14. #14
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    Me too, Wayside!
    Alis volat propriis.



  15. #15
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    I have a lot easier time forgiving others than I do forgiving myself. I seem to have this feeling that I'm supposed to be perfect, and anything that goes wrong, or that I screw up, is due to some deep inner fault that exists deep inside myself, and makes me a very unworthy person. I can look at other people, and see them as normal, fallible human beings, and, therefore, forgive what is only human nature. In me, that same fault is seen as inexcusable. Sometimes I think that's pretty egotistical of me. Then, I worry that calling myself egotistical is once again finding undue fault with myself. Gaaaaaa.
    Originally Posted by Alagirl
    We just love to shame poor people...when in reality, we are all just peasants.


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  16. #16
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    I really try to forgive people - partially for my mental health and partially because I know at some point I will definitely need to be forgiven.

    Some people can't get over their feelings that they are victims (cue my mother here!) and oddly, cannot forgive as a result. For example, my ma is still waiting for that bolt from the sky that will say once and for all that her mother in law was a jerk. My feeling is that the bolt from the sky doesn't happen - we need to make that bolt ourselves and move on. Believe it or not, my mom gets mad at me because I am able to forgive. I guess I am just a little more generous, or dispassionate, or can see boundaries better, so I try to think about the good in people and forgive them for the rest.

    This approach, however, has been severely tested by a relative whose heroin addiction has wreaked havoc in the family. He's in prison now and it has been a kind of internal debate to consider whether I would visit him or not, or extend some charity when he is released. Still working on that, and waiting to see what he does for himself as well.



  17. #17
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    My nephew is a serial abuser. He has been enabled by my sister, [his mother], my mother, and his girlfriend. He lived with my mom for two years and paid not a dime for rent. I won't go on but you get the picture. Near hatred of him burns in me. I am a Christian, and I am SUPPOSED to forgive, and forget. This wasn't even directed at me. I feel if I forgive him, he is getting away with it, which isn't for me to say anyway. I am also beginning to realize it is hurting me. I will be watching too.
    Another killer of threads



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larksmom View Post
    My nephew is a serial abuser. He has been enabled by my sister, [his mother], my mother, and his girlfriend. He lived with my mom for two years and paid not a dime for rent. I won't go on but you get the picture. Near hatred of him burns in me. I am a Christian, and I am SUPPOSED to forgive, and forget. This wasn't even directed at me. I feel if I forgive him, he is getting away with it, which isn't for me to say anyway. I am also beginning to realize it is hurting me. I will be watching too.
    I guess it depends on what "forgiveness" means to you personally. To me, it doesn't mean saying or thinking "what you did is OK", it means deciding not to feel resentment or anger over what they did/are doing. Some people are AH's, they use, they abuse, they manipulate, etc... I'd never be able to say that what they are doing to others is "OK", but I can choose not to waste my emotional energy hating and resenting them. Kind of accept that the person is a jerk, that your resentment of them isn't going to change their behavior and set boundaries and limits with them accordingly.

    With family members, you can't usually just cut them out of your life, but you can dispassoinately observe their behavior, stand up for yourself when they come for you and, not waste anger at what they do to others who will not stand up for themselves...you can't make your mother or sister change their behavior toward nephew any more than you can make him change his. You can give them your opinion, but if they turn a deaf ear, there's not much you can do but protect your own emotional well-being.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sketcher View Post
    I look at forgiving as something I do for me, not for the person being forgiven. .
    Yes. Totally. It is me that will carry that burden, and me the resentment will just eat up. They go on with their merry lives!

    I agree that forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness just gets me on the road to acceptance. Acceptance does not mean i LIKE it but that I get the situation or person is as it is/they are. Then I can decide what I want to do about it. But I have to be willing to give up the self righteous/superiority crap to do it!!

    Seeking forgiveness/making amends IMO is such a sacred process! I have had to turn around, walk back into a store to make amends to a clerk, track down a Verizon or Comcast worker with whom I was rude/snide and apologize. No excuses. Just that I was out of line.I have to do that to keep sane (and I do not do it nearly as often as I should, so I get crazy and irritable pretty quickly).

    In my family, I can forgive my stepfather but do not want anything to do with him. I am working on this with my mother, whom I adore but have certainly resented for her choices.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canaqua View Post
    I guess it depends on what "forgiveness" means to you personally. To me, it doesn't mean saying or thinking "what you did is OK", it means deciding not to feel resentment or anger over what they did/are doing. Some people are AH's, they use, they abuse, they manipulate, etc... I'd never be able to say that what they are doing to others is "OK", but I can choose not to waste my emotional energy hating and resenting them. Kind of accept that the person is a jerk, that your resentment of them isn't going to change their behavior and set boundaries and limits with them accordingly.

    With family members, you can't usually just cut them out of your life, but you can dispassoinately observe their behavior, stand up for yourself when they come for you and, not waste anger at what they do to others who will not stand up for themselves...you can't make your mother or sister change their behavior toward nephew any more than you can make him change his. You can give them your opinion, but if they turn a deaf ear, there's not much you can do but protect your own emotional well-being.
    Exactly. I think that the kind of forgiveness that means I will never hold it against you or think differently of you and trust you completely and carry on as though it never happened, is only obtained when there is some sincere recognition of wrongdoing and showing of contrition by the person who caused the injury. Otherwise it IS enabling.

    The kind of forgiveness that means "brush it off, don't let it bother you," well, that is within your own control, and if you can't let relatively small slights go then you need to figure out why that is. Often, from what I've seen, the grudge or lack of forgiveness isn't really about the injury caused, it has its root in something else such as jealousy, need for attention, fear of abandonment, etc. that might only be worked out in therapy.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



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