Forgiveness is a living breathing energy. It’s always around. It’s in the air, so to speak. Accessible to all.
So while it’s important to know HOW to forgive, it’s more important to first understand why you might resist it. Because once you know why you resist it, then it becomes much easier to actually TAP INTO that incredible invisible force of forgiveness that can heal so much in a person’s life.
And keep in mind these resistances can be much stronger when it comes to forgiving another person, compared to forgiving ourselves.
Here’s why we find ourselves reluctant to forgive:
1. Seen as a weakness.
If I have to forgive, that means I’ve lost. I’ve been defeated in some way. I really am guilty. Somebody else ‘got’ me – or I got myself. If I were stronger, I wouldn’t have to do this forgiveness stuff.
And now, in my defeat, all I can do is lick my wounds by forgiving myself. I’ve failed.
2. Seen as arrogance.
“Who do you think you are to just forgive yourself after what you’ve done?!!”
“You think you can get off the hook that easy? You haven’t suffered enough!”
You still need to pay for your crimes. (Or, somebody else still needs to pay for THEIR crimes.)
Maybe God can forgive, and maybe even others can forgive you, but you can’t possibly be so arrogant as to believe you can forgive yourself.
And if I forgive my mother, that means what she did was okay. I absolve her of her crimes AND I’m condoning her behavior. And that’s something I will NEVER do.
3. Seen as a shallow cop-out.
“You can’t just forgive yourself. That would be too easy. It’s too simple. What would happen in the world if you could just go around committing sins and then just forgiving yourself?”
Forgiveness has no depth or substance. It doesn’t exonerate you from what you’ve done. It can’t possibly right the wrong.
You’re hiding your head in the sand.
4. Brings up pain.
I’ve worked hard to stuff down my pain. And I’m trying real hard to not feel it now. If I forgive, that’s going to open up a Pandora’s box of all kinds of feelings that I REALLY don’t want to feel.
Too much will be stirred up. I don’t want to be reminded of the humiliation, the uncomfortability, the pain that’s down there in my emotional abyss. I don’t want to muddy the waters because the silt has all settled at the bottom. Better to leave it there.
My self-punishment is just too painful. And there’s a sleeping giant of unresolved emotions that I would much rather tip-toe around. So I might go through the motions, but I have no intention of gathering the SUBSTANCE of forgiveness.
I don’t want to open that wound. I’d rather keep limping.
5. Afraid of how I’ll change.
When you forgive, something in you dies. Some part IN you that’s not really a part OF you will die.
Maybe some judgments, or blame or righteousness. Maybe a little bit of control or manipulation. Maybe a little part of my pity, or victimhood, or martyrhood.
But I NEED to feel like a victim. Sure, it hurts. Victimhood is a pain factory. But I’m comfortable with the pain of being a victim. I know it well. What kind of a person would I be if I wasn’t a victim? That’s too scary.
Also, something will be born when I forgive. Some freedom, or some dream. Some hope. Perhaps some happiness.
What if I start feeling too good once I forgive? Then I might forget what happened. And then it could happen again. I’m not willing to take that chance.
I need my anger. And no way in hell am I going to give up my blame.
6. Afraid of demands and expectations.
If I forgive, then I’ll have to be perfect and never ever ‘do it’ again. I can never repeat my past mistakes. And I don’t know if I can do that. I just don’t want to have to be perfect.
Or, I’ll have to reconcile with someone else. And I really don’t want to. I want to be DONE with my ex-spouse, or my mother, or whomever. I don’t ever want to see them again. I don’t want to be friends.
Or I don’t want to let my mother off the hook. I really was wronged. If I forgive, won’t that make it okay – what she did to me?
Here’s the problem: when you keep someone else in prison by not forgiving them, you are also keeping yourself in prison. If someone else remains unforgiven, they remain in your life.
7. Afraid of intimacy and caring.
Love by itself is scary enough. But fears around intimacy and caring are just off the charts. Because if you get too close, then you might see my secrets. You might see ‘the real me’.
And if you only knew how I really am, you’d run away in horror. You’d be aghast. You would have nothing to do with me.
So I HAVE to keep this protective barrier in place. I can’t possibly forgive myself, because then the barrier might be breached. And I could end up all alone.
I need the protective barrier to remind myself of why I can’t get too close to those I love.
Or, I believe love equals suffering. And if I forgive, I’ll likely have more love in my life. But I am suffering enough already!
Now, ironically, all seven of these reasons CAN be true. You are at risk of losing the barrier that keeps you separated from others. You might end up placing demands on yourself, and unrealistic expectations. And something inside you may die. Some part of your blame, or righteousness.
And yes, the pains and memories of the past will need to come up if you want them gone. You will have to feel them as they’re leaving.
Likewise, you could possibly be hurt again once you forgive. You’re still a human. But it will be less likely to happen – not more likely.
Now, forgiving does not – by itself – make you forget. It’s not about forgetting. But you no longer have to be IMPRISONED by those memories. You can be detached from them.
And people have indeed used forgiveness as both a weakness, and as arrogance. But you certainly don’t HAVE to. The choice is always up to you.
So understand that while any of these reasons can be legitimate resistances, they don’t have to be. And they certainly can’t stand up to the power and the force and the magic of the energy of forgiveness.
Which I won’t get into now. You most likely have a good idea of how valuable it is.
But if you’re seriously thinking about tapping into this energy, then you first need to look at these resistances listed above.
Because if you don’t find and release your own resistance, it will block the effectiveness of forgiveness. You might go through the motions, but your heart won’t really be in it.
You’ll hold yourself back. And you won’t experience the full wonder of truly forgiving yourself or forgiving another.
Therefore, you must first FIND and then OWN your resistance to forgiveness. And keep in mind that you may not be consciously thinking about your resistance. Instead, it may be lurking in the background. It may be hidden from view. It may be beliefs you haven’t recognized, or feelings you haven’t acknowledged.
Also, and this is important – each time you forgive, you may have a different resistance! These are not static and rigid blockages. They’re flexible and fluid. They come and go. They surface, and then sink back down again.
So make sure you take the time to really look at these seven reasons – carefully, patiently – before you move on. And look at them each time you forgive. Don’t assume you’ll have the same blockage every time.
However, once you’ve ‘owned’ your resistance, then head on over to –
and start milking the magic!all the best,
Mark Ivar Myhre
The Emotional Healing Coach
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