Do you realize that it is easy to forgive someone you do not know very well, while it is very difficult to forgive those you are close to. The closer emotionally that person is, the more difficult it is to forgive. That is why family feuds are so painful and prolonged. That is why divorces are an emotional disaster. And fights among siblings are a war.
Psychologists say that we finally mature when we forgive our parents. All of us have some grudge against our parents. Welcome to the club. And we hold on to this grudge for years. We see a therapist, maybe several therapists, for years, trying to forgive. It is not easy. Why? Because we loved them. Or expected to be loved by them.
Now, who is the person closest to us? Closer than our spouse or child? Closer than brother, sister or parent?
Of course, it is ourselves.
It is very difficult to forgive oneself for whatever we feel guilty about. We suffer the most. The longest. And if our refusal to forgive persists it can turn into self-hate. Not a pretty picture.
Interesting that all religions promote the idea of “forgiving” and at the same time preach love. How to reconcile those opposing prescriptions since if we love, we will have difficulty forgiving?
But is it always true? Some loving couples do forgive each other. Which means it is doable, to love and forgive, but how?
Apparently the way to reconcile is the sequence by which we love and forgive.
Here is the first sequence: Forgive first. Love second. (“I will love you if I can forgive you “.)
Difficult. It is conditional love. Would not work.
How about the second sequence: Love first. Now forgive those you love. It works, if it is a true, honest, non judgmental, non needy love. Like a loving mother forgives a child for whatever…..love is above all transgressions. She forgives because there is no other way; She loves her child unconditionally.
And who is it you are supposed to love first of all as a precondition to forgiving? The insight: love of yourself.
If you love yourself you will have better chance to forgive yourself and eventually others too?
But why should I forgive myself or others?
It is because of the value imbedded in forgiving.
When you hold onto guilt or blame yourself or others, you wind up spending a great deal of unnecessary and unhelpful energy. It is not positive energy. It “eats you up.” It makes you sick. It is what I call a source of “internal marketing,” and in the process it interferes with the positive energy necessary for love to flourish.
And the worst “energy sucker,” is hate. It will age us prematurely. We become ill … and maybe even die. Sometimes by our own hand.
So, love, and love deeply, honestly, so that you can forgive yourself and others.
Do not try to understand. Just do it. Love without questioning anyone or anything. No cost benefit calculations. No doubting oneself. Just be loving unconditionally.
And start with loving and forgiving yourself. Loving and forgiving others next looks more probable.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes