On Forgiveness

by Fernando Perfas

| Photo courtesy of lveboldlycoaching.com

Oftentimes, forgiveness does not come easy. An act so unjust or hurtful is easier to forget than to forgive. When a hurtful or offensive action is done deliberately and with malice it often provokes strong negative emotions such as anger, resentment, shame, disappointment, etc. When this happens, we take such behavior as an affront because our sense of personal worth is threatened. It makes us feel unsafe.

The degree of perceived damaged to our sense of well-being is also determined by the nature of our relationship with the perpetrator. The closer the person is to us, the more intense our reaction and more complex emotions are involved. When someone causes undeserved harm, our ingrained feeling of justice makes it difficult for us to forgive and forget.

Forgiving requires a great deal of humility. It seems to go against the natural grain of human tendency to respond to injustice with an act of humility. When someone slaps us in the face, it comes naturally to react with “an eye for an eye” rather than offering the other cheek.

“In the eyes of ordinary mortals, it is a sign of weakness. But for the wise, it is the hallmark of the brave and the strong.”

Humility in the face of injustice is a higher order of morality. It is no ordinary feat because it demands that we go above our natural sense of justice and transcend our negative emotions and, most of all, overcome our “ego.” It liberates us from the morality of the jungle and the ethics of the marketplace. In the eyes of ordinary mortals, it is a sign of weakness. But for the wise, it is the hallmark of the brave and the strong.

From a psychological perspective, forgiveness is the wellspring of mental health. It is hard to imagine that we can profoundly move forward with our lives when we harbor old resentments and disappointments. These feelings can also lead us to suffer from psychosomatic illnesses.

“From a psychological perspective, forgiveness is the wellspring of mental health. It is hard to imagine that we can profoundly move forward with our lives when we harbor old resentments and disappointments.”

When we get stuck with blaming people who hurt us, when we cannot get over the disappointments of what happened or did not happen, we rob ourselves of the endless possibilities of the present. We may have to forgive ourselves for past mistakes before we can come to terms with all the negative feelings that come with them. Often, it is a necessary step before we can forgive the people who hurt us or blame for all that went wrong in our lives.

For some, forgiveness may not be so simple. It may mean giving up the only excuse they have for their failures. It may mean untying conflicted feelings that connect them with the past they are afraid to let go. The complexity of the situation can be overwhelming and paralyzing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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