Maria Khalifé “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese We are frequently quick to brush away an insult, hurt or harsh words with a flick of our wrist and dismiss it with casual words like “That’s okay,” or “Not a problem.” Forgiving someone is more than just a reaction. In actuality, those seemingly casual words may be carrying along two messages: I forgive you. It’s okay for you to hurt me repeatedly because I’ll just dismiss it. As much as we wish this wouldn’t happen to us, we seem to be affected by the words and the actions of other people. They can tell immediately by the look on your face how you are reacting to their words and their actions. There isn’t one of us who wants others to know that we have hurt feelings, so we try to move away from them as rapidly as we can. Sometimes our “That’s okay,” or “Not a problem,” is an avoidance technique: we brush aside our own feelings because even we don’t want to feel them. We use our “That’s okay,” or “Not a problem,” to quickly deflect our friends apologies which then gives them permission for the behavior to happen again. It’s subtle, I know, but it’s worth a good look to see if you are operating with this modus. One of the first things that therapists recommend when you are trying to get a grip on your one wonderful life is to sit with your feelings. To feel whatever it is you feel. If you are not consciously aware of what is happening, you can do nothing to change it! This brushing away of negative emotions is a dismissal of our own feelings. They come because they bear great gifts. They tell us if we are hurt. We cannot change feeling hurt until we can admit that we are hurt. These negative emotions are a dismissal of the negative input of others. Dismissal carries the message “It’s okay if you hurt me.” As I said, it’s subtle, but it truly deserves your attention if you want your life and its experience to improve. Forgiving someone graciously is what is needed. It requires far greater honesty than you are currently exercising, or you will remain running in circular patterns of behavior. In this cycle, without honesty interjected to stop it, you will continuously let people overstep themselves in our lives and offer pain, which we will then assume is our norm, and we will become victimized by this. You can stop this chain of events by taking these steps: Thank them for their apology. You accept that they’ve asked you to forgive them. Next, you have to gently create more harmony in the relationship, by sharing how they made you feel. To honestly say “I felt like this (fill in the blank) when you said or did this (fill in the blank) gives you control. This permits them to see what they’ve caused. This permits you to see what happened inside you. Trust and forgiveness go hand in hand. If your desire is to have a relationship that is spiritually deep, rewarding and fulfilling, this level of honesty will serve both parties well. How we respond to others teaches them how they can act toward us. If we hurt, cry, and hide, this is what we teach them. If we say “I was hurt when you said/did this (fill in the blank) we teach them that we trust them enough to bear that they’ve caused us pain and that we can forgive them for it. Learn how forgiving someone will grow an honest relationship that is positive and empowering for both involved. Take Action Now 1. I will consciously observe my feelings. 2. I will not run away from my feelings even if uncomfortable. 3. I will simply sit with my feelings and observe them.