Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2013/01/27/forgiveness/
Forgiving one another is crucial to to building new connection in a place where there was once pain and resentment. When most of us think of forgiveness we think of being forgiven. How joyful we feel, when our need for acceptance, connection, and love are met by this one simple act. And so when we think about forgiving others we imagine their joy at having these same needs met. And while sometimes that is fine with us; at other times, when what they’ve done still stings, we don’t want them to experience that joy since they don’t “deserve” it. ”Why should they be happy and be loved when they hurt me so badly!” Often though what we don’t look at is how forgiveness meets the needs of the forgiver just as much as the forgiven.
This idea that the “offending” person we are forgiving doesn’t “deserve” it is a prime example of one of the Four D’s of life alienating language (Diagnosis, Denial of Responsibility, Demands, and “Deserve” orientated language). ”Deserve” orientated language codifies a belief that people deserve certain things based on their deeds or who they are. This person “deserves” to be forgiven because he’s shown enough repentance. This person “deserves” to fail the test because they didn’t study hard enough. Whenever we communicate and think in this way we alienate others. Think about it, have you ever had something happen which left you feeling really sad and scared? And did someone say or suggest that you deserved it? And how did that feel? Did you feel more love or did you feel more disconnected?
While certainly there are consequences for our actions. When I brake the law by speeding, I can expect the possibility of getting a speeding ticket. But often I don’t get one. And if I do, I’ll probably see two or three more cars speed by while the officer is too busy ticketing me to pull them over. So there are consequences, and that is good, otherwise we’d all act as if we were the only person on the planet. But to say that someone deserves the pain or the pleasure they are receiving just isn’t true. It is not a matter of who deserves what; the truth is simply that painful things happen to all of us, and that pleasurable things happen to all of us. We all experience the fullness of life. And so no one deserves one thing or another, they simply get what they get and have needs met or unmet.
And if we can let go of this idea that some people “deserve” forgiveness and other people don’t, then we can see how forgiveness serves the forgiver. Forgiveness can meet needs for meaning, compassion, love, kindness, and growth in the forgiver. I am going to focus on the need for growth, in my opinion the strongest need met by forgiving. When we forgive someone for what they’ve done we are letting that anger and resentment go. We are declaring “I will no longer hold this anger and resentment against you, I no longer view you as my enemy.” And when we make that declaration we are freed up to grow. We can grow past old wounds. We can grow into the person we want to be. We can grow into a new person that is no longer hampered by the past. So I invite you today to think of those people and wounds you have that still sting and linger. And while there are many, many steps in the healing process, I invite you to consider whether with some of those people the final step to completely heal is forgiveness, and if you are ready to do that today.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.