Gay & Lesbian Services of Western New York

Love and Forgiveness

LOVE and Valentine’s Day go together, but how does FORGIVENESS fit in?

February, along with being Black History Month is also the month of love due to Valentine’s Day on the 14th of the month. Given that, you probably think that I should be writing about how to improve your relationship, or what things you can do to make that certain someone feel special in your life. Actually I have written some on that in the past so this month I thought that I would give some attention to loving yourself. Where is he going with this you wonder? What does loving yourself have to do with Valentine’s Day let alone with forgiveness?

Isn’t forgiveness all about forgiving people in our lives who have hurt us, made us miserable, made us furious or in some way really messed with us? Well, YES and NO. When people think of forgiveness they usually think about an act of forgiveness in which you let the offending party get out of jail free so to speak and therefore people are often reluctant to forgive. Sometimes forgiveness is seen too as the only thing that you can withhold to keep your footing or your power so forgiveness is that last thing you would consider. Many people would rather get even then get over. While forgiveness can involve an action toward an offending individual, that is not the form of forgiveness I want to address in the space remaining. In fact, the offending party need never know that they have been forgiven, unless of course, we ourselves are both the offender and the victim (more on that in a minute).

Every day we have the potential to be hurt in some fashion by the people around us. And each time it happens we walk away a little wounded, a little diminished by the experience. We are then to some degree mad at the other person and often mad at ourselves for being available to be victimized. These hurts accumulate over time, hurt our self esteem and often lead to one of two conclusions: I deserve what I got (I am bad); or, They deserve whatever bad thing befalls them (They are bad). It may go farther into controlling our life and mobility. Ever get hurt by someone, say for instance dumped, and then be afraid to run into them? So you stop going where they might be and your life gets smaller and smaller and they win again. Being mad and hurt also saps your energy and preoccupies your mind so again you lose! Forgiveness is one way out of this process.

Consider letting go of your connection to the person or the hurtful incident through being mad or hurt and wasting a lot of psychic energy by instead engaging in forgiveness in your own mind. Forgiveness becomes an act of love for yourself to free you from being stuck. Usually people do or say hurtful things because of how they think or feel within themselves so it usually has more to do with them then it does with you! Often in life we can be our own worst enemy and worst critic. Cut yourself some slack, forgive yourself for not always being the brightest, smartest, funniest, prettiest, handsomest, thinnest or what ever …est you happen to be using as the standard of the moment. And maybe most of all, if this applies, forgive yourself for being in a situation or contributing to one where you were hurt, like when a relationship ends or a friend disappoints. In life you have to forgive yourself for not knowing what you could not have known, like an unanticipated or unwanted outcome.

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