Forgiving is like cleaning the bathroom – I just have to do it. I don’t want any of that stuff to stay with me at all, let alone brew inside me for years, hoping that time will somehow make it better or that I’ll forget the incident at some point.
First of all, I don’t want to forget it – if I do, I’ll walk into that same trap again. Everything happens to me for a reason, and if it’s not a joyful experience then it’s a lesson that I’m supposed to learn and integrate. If I forget the lesson, life will always remind me and bring me the same lesson again and again.
And forgiving them does not mean that I approve what they’ve done, or that it’s somehow OK. It means that I respect their choice by knowing that it’s 100% theirs, even if they’re not aware of that. Respecting their choice is the most empowering perspective, which frees me from reacting automatically, from perpetuating the same cause of the problem. One might ask – “how can I respect someone’s choice to be rude or violent?” The nature of respect is all-or-nothing – there’s no such thing as partial or selective respect. “Am I supposed to put up with the violence then?” No. Respecting their choice does not mean agreeing with, or going along with it. The most valuable part of respecting everyone’s choices is that I respect my choices just the same. This gives me the freedom of making my choices consciously, and I choose to do the right thing in any situation, whatever that may be.
This leads to the most important part of forgiving – I forgive myself. I let it go. I am no longer my worst critic. I am kind to myself, because without this I cannot be kind to others.