How do I forgive? Many people ask me about forgiveness. They read that they just have to make a choice to let go, they think that they just decide to do one day and the weight is lifted. They try this, they intend to let go, and they feel peace. But then later that day, the next day, or the next week, it comes back. Why? They wonder, I let it go. I must have not gotten it right. Or, It doesn’t work for me. Or, something is wrong with me, this proves it. The problem is me.
How do I forgive? They ask again.
They judge themselves harshly. Feeling more ashamed, alone, and resentful they return to stewing. Sometimes obsessing.
They resent who told them forgiveness was a choice. They don’t understand how bad it is for me, for me it cannot be that simple. They feel less than those who can do it this easily. Thinking that the they have some bit of happiness that is out of reach for the rest of us. Basically they feel desperately separate, and afraid they might never feel better.
Forgiveness is a Verb
Making a choice to let go happens in an instant. But the next instant, you have to chose it again. French philosopher Derrida days that you don’t say yes to something once (like a partner). You say yes over and over, every moment of every day. Love, commitment, forgiveness…they are all verbs. It is an ongoing process.
If an old resentment or lamenting comes again, rather than judge yourself, beat yourself up for not doing it right. Or thinking that you must be holding onto something. Be compassionate with yourself. Look at the situation, see what the longing, what the pain says about what you hold precious. (For example, if you are thinking of a lost friendship, or a betrayal. What was precious about that relationship before it was lost, what did you love that you lost.) What is absent in your expression of anger but implicit in its meaning. The Absent But Implicit ebook .
Smile at yourself, celebrate the preciousness and decide to let go again. Judging yourself makes it worse. So if some thoughts you are trying to get rid of comes back, and you get angry, saying Damn it came again! attaches you to it more solidly. If you can, try not to give it that much attention. Know that this is what happens and let go again, softly, gently. Like leaves falling from a tree. No worries. Only love for yourself. Only love for what is precious.
Don’t take it from me. Read this post on forgiveness Why did I forgive.
Jealousy is Not Love
Jealousy is often confused for love. If someone loves you enough to be threatened by losing you, this means they really care. But jealousy is a fear, and fear is not love. Usually jealousy is a sign that someone else has not let something go; is holding resentment from a past transgression in the relationship. (Or often jealousy is there even before something happens. Like when the previous relationship hurt them.) It is a sign of low self esteem. A deep feeling of non deserving fuels this fear. A feeling that they are not good enough and always lose.
But they don’t want to lose and so hold on in a controlling way, rather than a loving way. Jealousy is a tactic of control. It is a form of abuse.
Jealous people feel insecure at the thought of losing their relationship. They feel that the other thing threatens the relationship and therefore threatens them. It is a felt threat to their personhood. I say “felt” threat, because fear is just an experience. Just because something might happen, doesn’t make fear real or rational. If someone cheated on you in the past doesn’t make your fear more real.) I can talk about this more in another post, remind me.)
“Rationalizing” is just an excuse to hold onto fear, which is never good for anyone. Fear doesn’t protect or save relationships. Fear is fear. In fact, it very often contributes to the very thing one is afraid of, the demise of the relationship. It puts a rift between people, cause one to accuse the other, blame, and build resentment. Never good. Fear is not love.
What do you think of jealousy and forgiveness?