I was at a presentation today about working with couples dealing with infidelity. One of the big issues about infidelity and other types of situations where trust has been broken is being able to forgive. The speaker said she didn’t believe forgiveness was something that we had to do. It was enough for some of us just to accept and then move on-that in situations where the other (the one that did the act that stimulated the pain) is not regretful and doesn’t want to be accountable for their actions, it may not make sense or be helpful for the “wounded “ party to forgive.
Self-Forgiveness vs Self-Acceptance
I think I have often mixed up forgiveness and acceptance and what I appreciated about what the speaker was saying was if you can find the ability to truly forgive-through work you do together-that you will be able to have a transformational experience. Whereas acceptance helps you understand and move on but will probably not offer that transformation.
I was taught forgiveness is more for ourselves than for the other and that it’s never a person’s act that is forgiven, rather the judgments we are holding against them. I am not sure I fully understood this when I learned it. Or rather I am seeing a new dimension to this now. What I see now is that we are all human beings having human experiences and some of us are expressing from much greater places of pain than others. It doesn’t mean that the acts that people do who are in such states of pain are okay-they are not and it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves and others from being hurt-but I really do believe if we, each of us knew better, we would do better.
Good vs Bad
I used to believe this was one dimensional, that a particular hurtful act defined the totality of a person; if they could do this then they were “bad”. I have now come to know that each of us has the ability to be “good” or “bad” in any given moment and that does not define who we are. We are so much more complex and things are so much more complicated! Knowing this has allowed me to forgive people more easily and to not take things quite as personally. We are all moving through life with our own internal blueprint of pains and sorrows. It can often be very difficult to see what is going on for someone else because we are so focused with our own issues that we cannot even begin to see what might be going on for others.
Anger often stems from the places inside of us that are not able to forgive or accept ourselves or to forgive and accept others. If we could truly understand that how we perceive things is the key to our freedom I think we could move towards acceptance and self-forgiveness and then feel relief and a reconnection to life.