Human interactions tend to bring people closer. The closer you get to someone the more open you become. The more open you become, the more vulnerable you become. The more vulnerable you become, the more susceptible you are to being hurt or inflicted with pain. The greater the pain, the more emotionally wounded you become. The greater the emotional wound, the greater the anger. The more the anger, the greater the resentment you feel towards the one that caused you pain. The end result is that resentment will poison the relationship, and if not quickly dealt with, will eventually destroy it. Only one thing can save that relationship at that critical stage, and it must come from the emotionally wounded party. What can be done? What must be done to turn the tide and save the relationship from impending doom? The answer is found in one word:

FORGIVENESS. What then is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the act of pardoning someone for a mistake, misunderstanding, wrongdoing or offence committed. It comes from the word “forgive” which means to stop being angry about something or to stop resenting someone or somebody’s behaviour. Interestingly enough, forgiveness and its root “to forgive” come from the old English wordforgiefanwhich literally means to “abstain from giving”. The underlying idea is of giving up resentment or a claim. Unresolved anger, is the root cause of resentment which leads to unforgiveness. If you are already feeling deeply resentful at your partner, and would like to get over it but do not know how, there is a way out. One thing that works every time is: the willingness to forgive.

Many people think forgiveness simply means just get over it, like when people say “forgive and forget”. Incidentally that is not actually possible. What just happens when you forgive, is that the incident or event fades away into the innermost recesses of your mind, such that when recalled does not lead to emotional upheaval. Forgiveness, is actually more than simply ignoring feelings of anger and resentment. It combines both common sense and reality. In reality, the truth of the matter is that every event that has ever happened to you is chemically locked into your brain. Remembering is simply recalling. Some events are more difficult to recall than others. In addition to this, people also struggle because they tend to equate forgiveness with a feeling. Forgiveness is not a feeling, though it can lead to an improvement in feelings. However, feelings are not necessarily the best measure of whether or not you have forgiven someone.

Stages of forgiveness

There are at least 5 stages of forgiveness:

Stage 1: It is important to realize that one party, perhaps your better half, was legitimately injured. Perhaps a lady was out rightly rude or disrespectful to her man publicly. The reality is this: even if you the offended party, claim to overlook it saying, ‘it means nothing she was just joking’, that would to be tantamount to a lie. Inflicting pain on someone will hurt whether it was intentional or not. Therefore, for you to forgive someone you must first honestly acknowledge what they did wrong, intentional or otherwise. Pretending you were not hurt, will only deepen the wound where it will remain unresolved. This is the first stage towards getting free from past offences.

Stage 2: You must refuse to retaliate or nurse feelings of vengeance. It is impossible to get hurt without being vulnerable, which means the offending party must be someone close enough to be trusted. Revenge does not take away pain, it simply drives it deeper. Hurting the person back, can never make up for what he or she did to you.

Stage 3: You must immediately without much ado, consciously and deliberatelyDISARM”. To disarm means to lay down your weapons which could include (but are not limited to) shouting, intimidating behaviour or patronizing behaviour. These attitudes, are weapons we used in our childhood to fight our battles and protect our interests. A common weapon is passive aggression which is almost like the ultimate weapon. To simply ignore someone is more hurtful than all the screaming in the world. You must give up your childhood coping skills and replace them with adult skills. Anyone who insists on continually responding in a childish manner, to challenging situations that inevitably arise, will eventually derail his or her relationship.

Stage 4: It is important to note here that forgiveness is not the same as trust. It does not mean being totally released from hurt as if nothing ever happened. If someone inflicts injuries on you, and continues to repeat the same negative pattern of behaviour, they do not make it possible for you to trust them again. Anybody who continues to act in an offensive manner, repeatedly and deliberately is deemed untrustworthy. Therefore, and this is key: trust is dependent on the offensive party while forgiveness is dependent on you. In other words, trust is conditional while forgiveness is unconditional.

Stage 5: Forgiveness means you let your offences wither, and you deliberately refuse to constantly feed them. You must face the reality that some degree of sorrow will be involved. Holding on to your hurts will only diminish your soul, leave you stuck in life and entangle you in misery. Living in self-denial is injurious to the soul, infact it has been medically proven that it can result in you literally been unable to heal. Psychologists have found out that, the massive amount of energy it takes for a person to suppress their emotions, and deny their pain results in no energy being left for the body to heal itself. Therefore, it is alright to sorrow at times, its ok to go ahead and have that “pseudo-nervous breakdown”.

Forgiveness is more for the offended party than the offending party. It allows the offended freedom to love (and eventually over time trust) again, so as to avoid bitterness and the feelings of loneliness that inevitably follows in its wake.