Forgiveness Myth Revisited

by Julette

 Hello there!

In reading a blog I wrote two years ago — I sometimes read my writing to remind myself of what I know lest I forget (!) — something jumped out at me: The 5th myth on the list 

           Myth # 5  By not forgiving I’m telling my abuser how much I hate him and how wrong what he did was: that somehow I needed to withhold forgiveness because otherwise he would think I loved him. I felt this more than thought it.  But it was real and stopped me from releasing all the baggage.

What struck me is how I have grown. Having a forgiving mindset tends to have that impact. I didn’t want my abusers to think I loved them and I thought that’s what forgiving him would convey. This is, as previously pointed out a mistaken belief…forgiving doesn’t necessarily say to an abuser ” I love you” nor does not forgiving them say “I hate you.”

BUT…today I am able to say with equanimity and a light heart…I can love an abuser.  Not in a romantic or even a personal, affectionate way necessarily but in the way that really matters for my emotional and spiritual health. I can love a person who has hurt me because their actions have absolutely nothing to do with me and is only an indication of their own pain and damaged sense of existence.  I can pray for an abuser, wish them well, love them as I love all people. This is growth and I want you to hear about it! :-)

Therapeutic for me to share this and it just might bless someone who is at this place ( or about to be) in their forgiveness journey.

If you’re not…no stress. I wasn’t always here myself! :-)

Here is the blog in its entirety:

Life experiences may train us to be comfortable with other states of existence, BUT when we are in our most healthy and balanced state, we WANT happiness, joy and success.

So when I consider why people CHOOSE to not forgive themselves and others when all facts, information and inclinations point in that direction, I have to reflect on what took ME so long to get smart about forgiveness.

I walked around for decades in the dark on the subject.  Well not completely.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to forgive the men who violated me.  I read up on love and forgiveness and really did try to walk the scriptural and spiritual talk of love and forgiveness.

But there were beliefs buried in my thinking that stood in the way.  Way beneath the water line, I had unconscious beliefs affecting my conscious thoughts and emotions.  I had to do some digging and honest reflecting.

Research has shown again and again the power of the unconscious mind.  It took real work to ‘go below’ and face my beliefs.

But I did and I discovered or uncovered the myths about forgiveness that I walked around with, stopping me from finding true and lasting peace.

See if you can relate to any of them and if you have others, please share them below.

Top Five Myths:

Myth # 1

By forgiving someone you give them permission to hurt you again.  I didn’t realize it but I did believe this.  Somehow I felt that by forgiving these horrible people I would be giving them OR OTHERS LIKE THEM permission to treat me as badly as they did.  I thought I’d be saying “what you did wasn’t so bad, and I didn’t really mind, so here do it to me again.”  This is absolutely false.

Myth # 2

Forgiving someone means it didn’t hurt that much.  The damage done to my life is not that great. Very much like myth #1, I believed that the way I could show them and the world how much damage was done was to stay hurt, and affected by the trauma. FALSE.

Myth # 3

Forgiving means reconciliation, we must be friends again.  I honestly believed that I would have to socialize with this person, allow him to greet me in the usual family like ways – hugs and kisses! – if I forgave him/them.  Not so.  Forgiving is to do with something done in the past and does not necessarily lead to reconciliation.  It can but does not have to.  That step is totally up to the person doing the forgiving.  I opted to forgive and I began to pray for my abusers but I didn’t remain in touch.

Myth # 4

Forgiving is something you do for someone else NOT for your self. I thought I was giving my violator a gift of love – which in a sense I was BUT it was first and foremost a gift to me.  I was the one who was immediately gaining a lighter spirit and the ability to move forward in my life. I was giving myself the gift of freedom and love.

Myth # 5

By not forgiving I’m telling my abuser how much I hate him and how wrong what he did was: that somehow I needed to withhold forgiveness because otherwise he would think I loved him. I felt this more than thought it.  But it was real and stopped me from releasing all the baggage.

These myths, I came to find out were common. When fear is driving our thinking, myths are easy to hang on to.  It takes courage to forgive and move on and when that courage is lacking we do tend to make things up to make sense of our present state of existence.

Forgiveness is an ongoing process. It is not a one time event.  This is actually another myth: that it takes just one decision and daily doses of forgiveness is not necessary.

It is after all a mindset, not just a one-time decision. It is a mindset that must be nurtured daily.  We also have to reflect on our beliefs (some are myths) to be sure we’re thinking the thoughts that will create the outcomes we seek. (Think cause and effect; thoughts are the cause and our experience is the effect.)

Wishing you all the peace and joy and love you can muster!
Julette Millien

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