How do you forgive someone who is unaware of hurting you? How do you forgive someone who loves you so much but has hurt you without even knowing how?
How? You just do. You make a decision to forgive and let go of the pain you’ve held on to for so long. Because by holding on to the pain, you just hurt yourself even more. By keeping grudges and hanging on to resentment, you waste so much energy that can otherwise be redirected towards something positive and productive. If you’ve ever felt stuck in a rut, and unable to move forward in different aspects of your life, it is because so much of your energy is wasted on anger and bitterness. Do yourself a favor. Forgive those who hurt you. Focus all that energy on creating something good instead.
I’ve forgiven my parents for loving me too much to the point of hurting me. Of course, they are unaware of that, because they do what they believe is best for me, and continue to do so. But I’ve held on to my resentment since I was an adolescent, and magnified it in my mind, that it has hurt me through my early adulthood and until recently. I realized that I have been trying to get back at them through self-sabotage because I know that hurting myself meant that I hurt them, too. When I realized that, I told myself, if I was angry at them, I didn’t have to harm myself in the process. But later on, what struck me was that it was exactly my anger that was hurting me. The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others what you want others to do unto you,” but the reverse of this is also true: what you do to others, you do to yourself. I was angry at them, but I was inevitably hurting myself. The negativity I was sending out would just boomerang at me. That was the real self-sabotage.
Growing up means that at some point I have to stop blaming my parents, or other people for that matter, for my troubles, and start taking responsibility for myself. I don’t want to have to say that if I am ineffective as a parent, it’s because of too much or a lack of something in the way I was raised. But I have observed that my relationship with my parents affect the way I relate to my children, and I have to let go of the pain, anger, resentment, grudges, bitterness, if I want to have a healthy relationship with both my parents and children.
I have been a fool all this time for hanging on to all of that. And I am an even bigger fool for not seeing that it is myself I have to forgive, for thinking of my parents that way.
I may also be a fool for exposing myself like this, to be scrutinized and even criticized for being ungrateful, etc, etc., but I risk the vulnerability, thinking that if there is even just one person out there who can relate, and then decides to do herself a favor and forgive another, then it will have been worth that risk.
A caveat, though: should you decide to forgive, ask for forgiveness as well. Be humble and wise enough to realize your own faults and imperfections, before you expect the other to own up to his. And in case he doesn’t? Forgive anyway.
Someone has to go first. Believe me, it is for your own sake, and for the good of everyone, that you do.