How to Forgive and Be Forgiven – The Art of Forgiveness
This is the final part of a four part course called, “Freeing Yourself From Mistakes and Pain: A Four Part Course On Apologizing and Emotional Freedom”. If you missed the start of the course, you can go to the first part here or select the part you would like at the bottom of this article.
In the first three parts of the course you learned the power of apologizing, common mistakes and barriers in apologizing, and how to correctly apologize. We have nearly covered all you need to know for a successful apology to heal relationships from pain. In this part, it is time to learn the art of forgiveness to build the roof of emotional freedom to protect, empower, and encapsulate what you have learned in this course.
Let’s look at how apologizing and forgiveness work together. Up until now in the course, we have focused on apologizing and emotional healing. What do you do if a person is unwilling to forgive? Are there certain communication skills you can use to help the person forgive you or should you move on instead and accept the person’s unwillingness to forgive you as their problem? How can we forgive others and start experiencing more happiness, success, and enjoyable relationships as a result of forgiveness?
The Ugly Duckling: Dealing With Unforgiveness and the Odd One Out
There once was an ugly duckling who felt unrelated to his brothers and sisters. His difference frustrated him. While his brothers and sisters were a lovely white color, he was the odd one out with gray-colored feathers. To make him more different, he was large and clumsy. One day the duckling had enough of being rejected so he ran away from home.
One year later, the once ugly duckling – now a young swan – saw many white swans swimming in a pond. The young swan admired their beauty, waiting to be rejected like the other times in his life. To his surprise, the swans welcomed the young swan as part of their group. They declared him to be the most beautiful swan of them all.
Over the years I’ve come to notice that while there are laws and principles that govern how to get the most out of communication, quite a few times an ugly duckling exists. This ugly duckling is the exception to the group. I will read, learn, apply, change, and reapply skills in my life; yet there always appears to be the exception when a skill doesn’t work – a reaction doesn’t take place, for example, or words aren’t received the right way.
There are skills you can use to get a desired response, to get people doing what you want, and to build healthy relationships, but the skills often have an exception like the ugly duckling. Psychology is about categorization and understanding, but even psychologists know they cannot categorize humans. With the complexity of human behavior, it is impossible to establish unbreakable skills that work every time. The ugly duckling for you right now could be the person who is unwilling to forgive you or the circumstance where you are unwilling to forgive.
There will always be people who never accept your apology and refuse to forgive you. If you have planned, taken responsibility, used good timing, explained yourself, and sympathized (as taught in the earlier lesson on how to correctly apologize) and the person does not forgive you, move on. You can only do so much. I still encourage you to put the following skills to use that will help the person find forgiveness, but be prepared to move on and not expect anything in return. Life is too short to be burdened by people’s miseries and resentment.
Provided you’ve done everything in your power and the person is yet to forgive, the person’s unforgiveness is his or her problem. He or she will be burdened by the grudge more than you. Moreover, if you move on, the person maybe willing to accept your apology at a later time.
Where’s Your Awareness?
It is easy to blame others for not doing something they should have done, but this is an illusion. We all think, feel, and behave the best we possibly can at any point in time. Whether you lose a peaceful attitude as you lash out in an argument or miss an easy goal in soccer, hockey, or football, you always achieve your best. You may feel you could have done better in past situations, but the truth is: you did your best.
I once struggled to agree with this principle. When I learned this the first time, I was astounded and felt compelled to disagree with it due to my conditioning from sport coaches, family, and others who use to tell me, “Come on. You can do better than that!” This is partly true.
Your best performance is based on your present level of awareness. A sports coach who revs up his players about not doing their best is still right, yet this is misinterpreted. The sports coach who yells at his players stimulates a new awareness that they are not trying their hardest. While the players underperformed, they still did their best. What the coach does is create a new awareness in the players, which allows them to do better than their prior performance.
No one can act beyond their present awareness.
Applying this law of awareness to our communication and relationships, we have different perceptions, understandings, and experiences – which forms our current awareness – than one another. This creates conflict as someone gets frustrated over someone else not having similar awareness.
Forgiveness and healing is impossible if one’s level of awareness is not high enough. No one can act beyond their present awareness. Awareness applies in being conscious of the fault at hand and knowing the art of forgiveness. A greater awareness can be created from learning the skills and mindset one must have to forgive, which leads to problem identification and a solution.
Someone may not forgive you because they are unaware of the secret art of forgiveness you are discovering in this article. By shifting their awareness, you can transition them into forgiveness, opening their mind with what could occur from emotional healing.
Effects of Not Forgiving
Forgiveness is not limited to religion (though religious individuals probably see a lot similarities and power with the advice in this article). Forgiving others and giving an effective apology to be forgiven creates emotional freedom – one reason forgiveness is seen by many in spiritual terms.
The root of evil, negative actions, grudges, anger, resentment, hatred, and envy begin with unforgiveness. It may seem religious to you, but rejecting someone else’s apology and not forgiving them leads to these effects. Anger is not bad, for example, but you can easily feel angry by resenting something from the past.
Should not forgive someone over one issue, there is enough potential in the resentment and anger generated from that problem to damage your life. That’s right. Just one, single, solo, individual, lone grudge is enough to ruin someone’s life. You can live in anger, misery, and resentment because one grudge causes other things in your life to crumble around you.
To demonstrate how one issue can damage a person’s whole life, I’ll use an example many people struggle to handle: their upbringing. You may have never talked about this problem with anybody your entire life. You may have been abused by your parents at an early age or perhaps they made some wrong decisions that negatively affected you. Let’s say you have experienced such a problem from your parents.
The mistake they (or your mother or father alone) made hurts you deeply, generating severe emotional pain. You hold this mistake against your parents. Even though you forgive everybody else – and your parents on other problems – you cannot forgive your parents for this one problem. Though you are now someone who forgives everyone because you have learned from this course that you need to forgive others, you have been unable to forgive your parents for how they raised you. As a result, you constantly live in anger and resentment. One issue is enough to make your entire life unhappy.
You cannot afford to let this happen by not forgiving others. Do not be that person who cannot forgive. Clear your mind by clearing the other person’s slate of mistakes. Forgive every person, on every issue, every time – or suffer the negative effects of resentment. To do this, there is one principle in the secret art of forgiveness I live by that changed my life and will change yours as it allows you to forgive others over issues you thought were insurmountable.
The Secret Art of Forgiveness – Whose Canvas is It?
I believe there is one true life-changing secret in finding the art of forgiveness. There is one mindset that changed my life forever and allowed me to start forgiving, healing pain, overcoming problems, letting go, eliminating the blame-game from my life, and truly getting on with life.
Are you interested in creating a master piece by forgiving others? Are you ready to begin painting your life and taking control of how you feel? Are you willing to no longer let the past mistakes of other people make you angry, frustrated, and resentful? Are you interested in teaching others how they can apply this secret art of forgiveness so they can forgive you?
When you do not forgive, you probably think your resentment hurts the person who hurt you. You hold unhappiness and painful memories against people who inflicted pain on you in an effort to reciprocate their damage.
The art of forgiveness lies in knowing your hurtful attachment to the past does people no harm – it only hurts your wellbeing.
The art of forgiveness lies in knowing your hurtful attachment to the past does people no harm – it only hurts your wellbeing. Throw your grudges on the ground by acknowledging that what you do to make people unhappy only makes you unhappy. The gun you fire is off target and the recoil blasts into your face. You are not messing up somebody’s piece of art; you are scribbling on your masterpiece. Once you acknowledge the resentment you hold hurts you more than it hurts others, you change your life.
You can only forgive someone when you make the choice to be happy instead of right. If you see the person as having done wrong and you are right, you will forever be tied to painful emotions. The art of forgiveness is not about who is right and who is wrong – it is about making the choice of happiness over righteousness. Only then do you become free from a painful past. You will at last paint your life the way you want.
Forgiving a person does not “let them off the hook”. It doesn’t mean you accept or condone the person’s behavior, or trust the person. What forgiveness does mean is a clean future in the face of a dirty past. In part three of this course I said:
If another person holds the bitter memories and resentment of your mistake against you, the person has not forgiven. It is almost humanly impossible, however, to forget another’s mistake. Forgiveness heals the past releasing ill will against the person. Not forgetting provides a memory of the pain that guides future actions. Forgiveness and forgetting are closely knit together, yet define entirely different things.
An apology is successful when it is accepted and the mistake no longer is held against you. The person may not forget your mistake, but he or she forgives you and no longer resents you for the mistake or uses it to manipulate you. Resentment, frustration, anger, gossip, bitterness, ill will, and other outward manifestations of hatred are erased upon a successful apology. Someone with these emotions possibly signals the person has yet to forgive.
Forgiveness is not easy, but by acknowledging the only person you hurt with resentment is yourself, you relinquish pain and relish the happiness you were born to experience – which may lead the person to forgive you for your mistakes.
You can only forgive someone when you make the choice to be happy instead of right.
If someone is yet to forgive you, make sure you have entirely forgiven them then communicate that you thought you were hurting them by not forgiving, but you only hurt yourself. What you are doing with this technique is educating the person in an indirect manner about the art of forgiveness so your passive advice is not rejected. It will increase the person’s awareness of forgiveness so they more likely accept your apology and forgive you. “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love,” said Robert Muller, a well-known advocate of world peace. “In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
More Materials to Create the Art of Forgiveness
The information I have given so far is enough to help some people forgive others, apologize, and encourage others to forgive, but here are additional sources and tips to find the art of forgiveness:
- Check out the many powers of apologizing. Doing this will create massive amounts of pleasure to motivate yourself to apologize, forgive, and free yourself from resentment.
- “I know what you said Josh, but I can’t forgive my enemies. What do I do?” You only hurt yourself when you fail to forgive. You don’t have to forget the past, but you need to release resentment. Cry about it to purge resentment. You hurt enemies more by forgiving them than bottling up your resentment. Nothing makes your enemies more satisfied than seeing you beat yourself over an issue you inaccurately think hurts them. Oscar Wilde was quoted in saying, “Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much.”
- We are full of mistakes. Acknowledging this helps you see someone’s mistake as them being a typical human. A mistake-filled life is natural so we all need forgiveness to heal our past.
- Are your expectations of the person too high? Expectations determine satisfaction. If your expectations in the person are too high, you set yourself for a hard fall. Unreasonable expectations lead to unreasonable circumstances where it can be difficult to forgive the person for not meeting your expectations.
As you apply parts of the course, the skills will become more natural to you. Where you once would hide beneath your pride, guilt, or resentment as you fail to apologize and forgive, you will now create emotional freedom. Even when an ugly duckling arrives in your life, you can now forgive and encourage others to forgive.
People you apologize to will feel loved by you from the open communication. You will experience happiness and inner peace, freeing yourself from guilt, anger, resentment, and other forms of bitterness. You will at last take advantage of the powers of apologizing. Put away your pride, bring out your apologies, and forgive people.
Links to all four parts of this course, “Freeing Yourself From Mistakes and Pain: A Four Part Course On Apologizing and Emotional Freedom”:
Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"
Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to http://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/