In a past blog Refusing to Forgive: 9 Steps to Break Free there was tremendous response and interest in the topic of forgiveness. This is such a confusing and important topic for so many people. Janie wrote:
Hi! Well I understand about the need 2 forgive but what about this fear I have about the same thing happening all over again?
It’s natural to experience fear after you’ve been hurt by someone. That fear needs to be acknowledged and felt. It could be that the fear is trying to tell you something. For example, one person that inspired the blog, When You Can’t Forgive: Hope is Not Lost, asked how someone can forgive another after they have made the same transgression a “100th time” and just continue to do so. In this sense, maybe the fear is trying to tell us something, like “we need to create some boundaries because this person’s track record is really poor.”
Or if the fear is brought on by a trauma such as being raped or abused then there is a deep healing process that needs to take place that will most likely take some time and can be supported by a skilled therapist and/or group.
There is an important point here:
Forgiving does not mean condoning what had happened and it also does not mean forgetting what happened. For example, if someone had an affair in a relationship, forgiveness does not mean that you forget it and everything just goes back to how it was. That is unrealistic. The relationship has been affected, there has been a splinter in the trust and foundation of the relationship and it would be natural for the fear to still be there. That fear needs to be acknowledged, understood, and processed by the couple as it is now a part of the relationship, not just the person who holds it. The person who holds the fear would benefit from not judging him or herself, but instead understanding that it is natural to have this fear and learning how to hold this fear in compassion. Otherwise this fear and/or anger may seep out in more passive aggressive actions.
If you feel like the fear is getting in the way of your relationship with this person and you would like to try and move past it, it may be worthwhile to read the blog Feeling Fear? Lovingkindness – A Path to Healing. In this blog, I go over an ancient practice that many have called an antidote to fear.
Note: Notice if any judgments arise, “this can’t help me”, “I’ve tried this once in the past, or something like it, forget it”, or “This sounds woo-woo”. Just be aware of these judgments as strong habits of the mind trying to keep the status quo. Then gently bring you attention back to this practice.
May we all grow to understand that this life goes by so quickly and holding onto grudges and hate toward others only serves to hinder us in our own lives. May we be able to engage in the practice of forgiveness, be free from fear, be healthy, and happy.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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Last reviewed: 29 Jun 2009