Practicing Forgiveness, Particularly During COVID-19
Have you found yourself immensely disappointed by others the past few months? If so, you are definitely not alone– this pandemic is testing everyone’s patience in so many ways. None of us are operating at our best right now, which is why now more than ever we need to practice our ability to forgive.
Forgiveness is not about excusing someone’s transgression or forgetting their bad acts. It is definitely not about allowing yourself to become vulnerable once again or even continuing in a toxic relationship. What it is about is letting go– making a choice to not harbor resentment, seek revenge or be consumed by anger. The gift of forgiveness is really to yourself, so you can find inner peace and move forward with a far lighter load to bear.
When processing your feelings of frustration, try to (1) pinpoint the reason for your pain; (2) understand that person’s motives or intent; and (3) weigh all your options for a workable solution. Analyze where this person ranks in your life– is s/he even worth the effort of you spending time and energy agonizing over the relationship and finding a way to fix things? Also, how egregious was the transgression? And was the trespass intentional or accidental, because that does make a huge difference.
Misunderstandings happen all the time, and sometimes even smart people make poor choices or show lapses in judgment. Intellectually we all know this, but it really stings when it hits close to home because unfortunately, we tend to have the highest expectations of our loved ones, which makes them the most likely to profoundly disappoint us. As a result, we need to acknowledge that forgiveness is a key component of love, however, it’s not a life skill that is generally promoted in our society, which often tends to view it as a sign of foolishness or weakness.
The fact is we need each other to survive, if nothing else COVID-19 has really driven that point home. But we all have different experiences and opportunities growing up, which create varying needs and wants as adults. We will not all make the same life choices, which is actually quite beautiful and yet also creates great complexity in our relationships.
For over 20 years, I’ve seen all my divorce clients struggle with forgiveness, but those that find a way to let go of all the anger and resentment, move on much faster and reach a better place far sooner than those who do not. Inspired by these experiences, I went on my own journey a decade ago to re-open some deeply seeded wounds from my family’s past. The insights gleaned from that have become part of one of my favorite talks all about the power of forgiveness, which I share with you here in the hope that you too will be inspired to try and test your abilities to forgive a bit more, particularly during these crazy times: