When do we need to forgive? When do we need to ask for forgiveness? Are some things unforgivable?

Thinking about forgiveness I realise what a complex issue this is. Sometimes we feel betrayed or hurt by other people, or we have hurt or betrayed others and we feel the need to ask for forgiveness because we want to put things right. Sometimes this may be enough; by acknowledging that we have done wrong the other person may feel understood in their feelings and feel able to forgive. But is it that easy? What is forgiveness?

It's got something to do with ceasing to be angry or resentful towards somebody. Which means that we were blaming them for doing wrong. They apologise and we forgive them. Sounds quite straight forward, doesn't it? Let's assume that somebody lied to you; you feel betrayed and angry or hurt. What does it take for you to be able to forgive? Are you even willing to forgive or do you want to hold on to your anger? Maybe you prefer this because it makes you feel righteous and it gives you satisfaction to bring an incident up again and again, to punish the other person or to keep them on their toes. But did you ever think about why they felt they had to lie to you? Could it be worth looking at the bigger picture: what's going on in your relationship with that person? Are there a lot of unspoken things between the two of you? Why does the other person not trust you enough to tell the truth? Could it be that you have a part in this?

I know, this is challenging. But if you are willing to ask yourself these questions and if you detect your part in the situation, you might not even need to decide to forgive. Forgiveness will just happen, because you have realised that in some way you have contributed to the state of affairs. But what if the hurt is too deep, the wrong-doing too great?

I think the problem with holding on to anger and hatred is that it keeps us tied to the wrong-doer; we stay focussed on them and our wanting to hurt them back instead of focussing on ourselves and our own healing. Working through deep hurt or anger will set us free and enable us to live our lives instead of letting it be destroyed by constantly focussing on the wrong-doer. 

Maybe some things are unforgivable; only you can answer that question for yourself. But, maybe with the help of a counsellor, you can take the heat out of it by working through it, so that the hurt you experienced will no longer dominate and determine your life.

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Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH

Written by Judith Schuepfer-Griffin

Bath, Somerset, BA1 5TH

If you are thinking of getting some counselling you might want to know how it actually works. All counsellors are different and work in their individual ways. This is how I do it: Our first personal contact will probably be by phone or by email or text. We will then meet for an assessment. There is...

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