Can we afford not to forgive?
CHATHAM,NEW JERSEY 07928
CAN WE AFFORD NOT TO FORGIVE?
Some ponder the question “how does the heart remain flexible throughout life or become rigid and inflexible closing down our ability to connect with others, love, grow and heal?”
They are the same people who are interested in an open “spiritual heart” that is capable of giving and receiving unconditional love, with the capacity to be healed and support the healing of others.
So why does the heart “harden”? A purpose of our intellect is to protect the psyche from pain. The rationale for closing down emotionally toward someone who has hurt us is to protect us from future pain. Success, then, is measured when the one who has hurt us no longer has access to our heart or recognition from it.
While immediately comforting, this process can become a destructive pattern of punishment and revenge by withholding love. Consequently the purpose for which the “open spiritual heart” was created is denied. The irony of this “protective” process is while the adversary is shut out, the pain is locked in and our ability to love and to heal is compromised .We become a prisoner to the layers of the hardened and inflexible heart. The pattern of protection can become more injurious than the original hurt. The choice for the steward of this heart is (1) to keep it closed, sustain the pain, stay isolated and a victim or (2) forgive, open it, let the light of love flow in, circulate and flow out.
There is a reason why there are so many articles with titles such as Finding Freedom in Forgiving, Forgiveness Therapy, Forgiveness the Key to Healing. If we wish to heal from a hardened/closed heart, the key to the open heart is forgiveness. No article has guaranteed that forgiving is easy but it can be said that it is one of the greatest gifts we give to ourselves. It requires that we be willing to acknowledge we have closed our hearts, the price has become too high and we are willing to take the risk of opening the heart to the possibility of being hurt again.
To begin the process, we explore what was lost due to being hurt. Some questions we might ask ourselves are ; ”What meaning did the loss have for me?” “Did I feel betrayed?”, “Did I expect more loyalty/compassion from this person then he/she was able or willing to give?” “Did I feel less about myself as a result of the hurtful event with this person?”, “Did I find my self esteem diminished?” or“Was I threatened in some way or lose my sense of control?” Each of these questions represents the loss of a perception by which we identify ourselves and others. The reasons we don’t forgive can be due to (1) the personal meaning we give to the hurt, (2) not forgiving makes us feel superior to the offender or like a victim and/or (3) we never had the courage to set boundaries before and the latest transgression was obvious enough to provide us with a reason to create distance.
When forgiving, it is crucial to remember that we are forgiving the person, not their behavior. One way to start the practice of forgiving is to forgive ourselves of our own mistakes.
The process includes acknowledging our mistake, identifying our responsibility in making it happen, making a plan not to repeat it in the future, forgiving and redefining oneself and letting it go.
Forgiveness liberates us from the pain of the hardened heart, allows love to circulate and increases our capacity to heal. Can we afford not to forgive when the price of the “hardened heart” is death to the capacity to love and be loved unconditionally? So how do we determine if we have forgiven? When we remember the person or situation and do not feel the “pain”.