Everything that we seek in life begins with and is about ourselves. The act of forgiveness is no exception. It is easy to see why we get this mixed up, since we are forgiving them for a perceived wrongdoing. Typically, they have done something that hurt us or the people we love. But no matter what someone has done, we forgive them for ourselves and our own inner peace, not for them.
“You must forgive those who hurt you, even if whatever they did to you is unforgivable in your mind. You will forgive them not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because you don’t want to suffer and hurt yourself every time you remember what they did to you. It doesn’t matter what others did to you, you are going to forgive them because you don’t want to feel sick all the time. Forgiveness is for your own mental healing. You will forgive because you feel compassion for yourself. Forgiveness is an act of self-love.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
To practice forgiveness, the person who we believe has harmed us does not have to apologize or be sorry. They do not even need to know that we have forgiven them. Sometimes, telling them that we have forgiven them is appropriate and sometimes it is not. Since the primary purpose of forgiveness is the attainment of our own peace, our inner peace is our primary aim.
No matter how much pain someone causes you or how wrong they are, the purpose of forgiveness stays the same. In fact, the worse you feel the person has harmed you, the more you will destroy yourself through holding onto anger and resentments. The greater the pain, the greater the reward you give yourself through forgiveness.
Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that you are giving the forgiven permission to continue treating you poorly. You can set healthy boundaries and forgive them at the same time. You can choose to disengage with someone and forgive them at the same time. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you approve of their behavior; it simply means that you choose not to carry malice in your heart. If you think you cannot forgive because you have to make someone pay for their wrongdoing, you are only hurting yourself, not the other person.
If you have been hurt so deeply that you don’t feel you can find forgiveness, I promise that you can. We all can, no matter what. Believe that you can, have faith in your own love and do not take the behavior of others personally.
Previously published at https://medium.com/@helenbarry/forgive-them-for-you