Forgiveness versus Resentment
Why Forgiveness is so Hard? And how we can change? Human behavior that suggests that people are “hard-wired" to experience ruptured relational bonds, psychological distance, physiological arousal, and the desire to retaliate when they have been hurt by another person. Our pride or self-esteem is injured. Our expectations or dreams are disappointed. We lose something very valuable to us. We want recompense for the damages.
What are the other resistances which block our motivation to forgive?
1. Automatic thoughts or beliefs: What automatic thoughts or beliefs do we have that would impede us from forgiving others? We tell ourselves, "I won't forgive because he/she never accepts responsibility for what he/she does" or "I would be a hypocrite if I forgave because I do not feel like forgiving" or "Forgiving is only for weak people".
2. Explanations for behavior: When someone hurts us or lets us down....how do we generally explain his/her behavior? We Tend to assign internal causes for behavior to others: personality or character traits:
“He’s just so forgetful or careless” “She doesn’t appreciate me” “She did that purposefully” We judge them harshly.
When we do something wrong or hurtful/disappointing...how do we generally explain our behavior? We tend to excuse our own behavior by attributing external causes: “My child made a mess” “There was a car accident on the highway.” We tend to let ourselves off the hook and give ourselves permission to fail.
This is called the Fundamental Attribution Error...when we assign total
responsibility/blame to others/spouses for their behavior while explaining away our own negative actions in terms of situational factors.
Understanding and accepting the error in the Fundamental Attribution Error does not relieve offending people of moral responsibility. The goal is to promote empathy and forgiveness and look more realistically at the hurtful events from their point of view...”thinking the best” as 1 Cor. 13:7 reads: "Love always hopes, always trusts..." and using the Causal Agnosticism exercise: “one can never know the precise causes of a
person's/spouse’s hurtful behavior...
3. Lack of empathy (empathy is the psychological highway to forgive others) for others....
We need to develop empathy for others by beginning to change Fundamental Attribution Error way of thinking we have about people’s actions to a more empathic view and use the Causal agnosticism exercise which says, "One can never know the precise causes of another person's behavior".
When have you been able to have empathy for someone who has hurt you? Ask yourself “do I want things bitter or better?” Recall when you have needed forgiveness....
Don't let resentment imprison you for life. Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. It will destroy you and your other relationships. Lewis Smedes wrote: "To forgive is to set the prisoner free...and to discover that the prisoner was you."
Let go of the pain. Give it to God. For God alone understands more than anyone the pain and humiliation you feel. Jesus felt more pain, rejection and humiliation than any person. He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him. Not only did the created not receive the Creator, they tortured him and put him to death... on a cross.
Phil 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the
And then Jesus said as He hung on the cross dying for our sins, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do".
May God give you the grace to forgive. To not only set the other person free but to set yourself free from the past and to become more like Christ.
© copyright 2007 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC