Some people become confused about forgiveness because it sounds like you’re letting go of responsibility and allowing others to avoid any consequence from their behavior. But forgiveness can complement personal responsibility.

Forgiveness allows us to let go of the past, while we continue to maintain our best effort and clear thinking about personal responsibility in the present.

Here are some choices we can make to foster forgiveness:

1. Identify what hurt and pain (what someone just said or did) as antagonism because that’s what it is. It was not said or done for us, its serves their own agenda.

2. We can put our hurt and pain in its proper perspective – they made an immature, childish statement or action. It does not deserve the attention and energy we are giving it.

3. Are we going to let our hurt determine our response or will we choose to use our adult judgment? Are you going to let our anger control us or are we going to manage it?

4. Identify that this is an opportunity to allow others to be responsible for themselves.

5. Using our adult judgment, we can consciously choose to manage our hurt and anger appropriately. We can take this immature, foolish remark or behavior like a grown-up instead of returning to our childhood.

6. Understand that our purpose in holding into this hurt and pain is not to be productive, but
a) to relieve the pain of our feelings by putting them down and to build ourselves up
b) to control the situation
c) to prevent the humiliating exposure of our own imperfections
d) to achieve fairness by seeking revenge and hurting them.

Under these circumstances, we are not their conversation partner, we are their target. That is why we do not dignify their hurtful statements with a well-reasoned, mature reply. We do not waste time or energy debating their position on the issue at hand, either. There is no substance to their argument, no merit in their thought processes; because there aren’t any. These are only childish remarks confirming that under stress they have regressed to an earlier stage of personal development. We can choose not to join them in fifth grade.

Instead, we can choose to:
• Use our adult judgment to identify antagonism for what it is, childish attention seeking.
• Resist the temptation to straighten them out.
• Disengage ourselves emotionally from their antagonism by catching ourselves about to take their words/behavior personally. Their antagonism is not a reflection on our worth as a person. We can resist the temptation to defend ourselves. They not interested our point of view anyways,They are focused on relieving their hurt at our expense. We are not guilty. We do not require defending. We can save our breath.
• Disengage from your own defensiveness, explaining or criticizing. That only gives the antagonistic comment more significance than it deserves.
• We can let go of our intention to control the situation. Instead, we can focus on controlling our reactions to the provocation.
• Muster up the courage to take the risk of doing something new. We can choose to say, “I don’t know what you are trying to accomplish.” or “What are you trying to achieve?” You are not attacking. You are telling the truth.
• We how see we feel afterwards. If we feel good, savor it. We’ve earned it.
• Agree with it. The last thing antagonizers expect us to do is agree with them. When we say, “I hear what you’re saying,” or “:I never thought of that.” We are not saying that they are correct in the facts, merely that we heard what they said, which is the truth.

Photo by timlewisnm