All the ‘experts’ I have ever come across, speak of forgiveness as if it were an event instead of an ongoing, dynamic process. The impression has been created that once you have forgiven someone, you are free from that burden for the rest of your life. My research showed me that this is an obvious misconception of forgiveness, and is part of the reason there is so much confusion around how to forgive in practice.
Because you have free will, forgiveness is not permanent. Just because you have completely forgiven someone does not mean that you will never again hold the incident against him. You can choose to un-forgive him whenever you want to. Focusing on the incident re-creates the incident in your imagination, and therefore evokes the negative emotions against him again. And when you again feel the anger or whatever negative emotions the memory causes, you have un-forgiven the perpetrator.
Before analyzing forgiveness, I had never even imagined that the concept of un-forgiveness, i.e. taking back, or cancelling forgiveness, existed. And this idea sounds strange when one first considers it. But when one looks at one’s life in the light of this new understanding, one finds that un-forgiving is not strange at all, but all too commonplace.
Un-forgiving is not usually recognized for what it is, because it is mistaken for ‘non-forgiving’. I.e. when people have genuinely forgiven someone, and then later become angry over the same incident again, they don’t realize that they have un-forgiven the person. Instead, they think their negative feelings are there because they never really forgave the person in the first place. Also, when one looks at other forms of forgiving, such as forgiving a debt of money, for example, then it becomes logically obvious that forgiveness must be reversible.
Un-forgiving In Action
Maybe an example of forgiving, then un-forgiving will help to shed some light on this issue. Years ago, I made myself a pair of long, heavy-duty, jumper cables, using welding cables and large, heavy-duty, crocodile clips. I made the leads long enough so that I could park my car behind a car which needed a jump start. Instead of having to go through the inconvenience of having to drive past the car, turn my car around, and then park on the wrong side of the road, so that the jumper leads could reach from my car’s battery to the other car’s battery.
One day, while checking these leads, I discovered that George, my mechanic at my then place of work, had stolen my expensive, custom made leads out of my car, and replaced them with short, rubbish leads with old, flimsy crocodile clips, which were completely useless because instead of opening, these clips just bent when one tried to open them to clip them onto the battery terminals.
When I discovered this and confronted him, I had a good laugh about it, because it was a typical thing for him to do, as he and I played many a practical joke on each other. I have told and retold this story many times over the years, and have always had a good laugh at his cheek.
Yet recently, about sixteen years after the incident, I needed jumper leads, and when I struggled to use these rubbish leads, I became really angry with George. I then realized, that although I had immediately forgiven George for the incident; sixteen years later, I had un-forgiven him.
A Very Important Key To Forgiving
This raises a very important key to forgiving. Namely, if possible, remove any reminders of the incident. If I had immediately replaced the rubbish leads with new ones, the old leads would not have been there to cause me to focus on the incident many years later.
Because forgiveness is not permanent, don’t concern yourself about forgiving someone forever. The only time you have is Now, therefore, the only time you need to forgive, is Now; “Take therefore no thought for the morrow : for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34)
Another important point about ignoring the incident: Don’t discuss it; don’t try to defend what you did; don’t try to prove to anyone (not even yourself) that you were right, or justified or any such thing. This is a trick of your rational mind to get you to focus on dead stuff, so that you can stop focusing on changing your reality. Because changing your reality would mean your rational mind would have to get out of its comfort zone.
The past is dead—you are alive.
The future is yours to create—and creating a bright, new future, does not lie in the past— every Now is a new beginning.
The Blame Game
There appears to be an ever growing trend, spreading like wildfire across the world—the ‘It’s not my fault syndrome’. More and more people everywhere are blaming others for the state of their lives. The Blame Game comes in many guises—some of the more common ones are:
- The government is to blame,
- Society is to blame,
- The system is to blame,
- History is to blame,
- Genetics is to blame,
- My mother is to blame,
- My father is to blame.
But at its core it is always the same game, with the same motive, namely, resistance to change. If your situation is not your fault, then you don’t have to make any changes to yourself or your lifestyle—someone else needs to make changes. A recent conversation I had with someone, is a good example of one of the more common blames, namely, ‘my father is to blame’.
My Father Is To Blame For Ruining My Life
The conversation went something like this; “I am very unhappy, because I am too shy to make friends, or to form any kind of lasting relationships because my father was always ridiculing me, and seemed to take a perverse pleasure in humiliating me in front of my friends. I grew up feeling unwanted and worthless, and I am constantly expecting other people to look down on me and ridicule me—and this almost always happens. So, I prefer to avoid people as much as possible.”
This man was determined to visit his father and tell him exactly how he felt about the way his father had brought him up, and had ruined his life. I asked him what he expected to achieve by his planned visit. “The satisfaction of telling that bastard that he was a shit father!” “So, your goal is to make him feel bad. How would that change the things about yourself that make you unhappy?” He acknowledged that his visit would not change any of these things for him.
I asked him to consider the following: “Your father also had a father, who also had a father. And if you inquire, you will probably find that your father’s father did an even worse job of raising your father than your father did of raising you. And, as your father did not receive an owner’s manual with his new baby, he was simply raising you the way he had been taught. The way he thought best, and the way his capabilities allowed. No father in his right mind sets out to raise a screwed up child.
Something To Consider
So, confronting him about the poor job he did, is going to hurt him badly. Especially seeing as there is absolutely nothing he can do to change what has already happened. There are all kinds of fathers, but to illustrate a point, let’s say there are two kinds, namely, those who set out to be bad fathers and ruin their children’s lives, and those who set out to be good fathers and do the best they can. Which father deserves to be punished? Surely you would say, ‘The one who deliberately set out to be a bad father.’
Well then, let’s see if your planned confrontation makes sense. If your father chose to be a bad father, your accusations will make him happy because he will know that he succeeded in his goal. On the other hand, if your father wanted to be a good father, your accusations will hurt him badly. Which means that such a confrontation would only hurt your father if he cared about you. Now, that is exactly the father you don’t want to hurt, or, if you do want to hurt a father who cares about you, then your motives are most certainly not constructive, but destructive. Furthermore, you are prepared to hurt someone who cares about you, not to improve your lot, but out of spite, and because you don’t really want to change.
Is It Really About Him, Or Is It About You?
Whatever you say or do to your father, will not change the way you are. You need to remove your father from the equation because he is a stumbling block to you changing. Because as long as you think he is the key, you cannot change. Because firstly, he cannot change the past, and secondly, you cannot change the present or the future, because you don’t have the power—you have given it to him.
You remove your father from the equation by forgiving him. And it becomes much easier to forgive him if you realize that he:
Is a person, not just your father,
Could teach only what he was taught,
Could give only what he had to give,
Never planned to be a bad father and to ruin your life,
Can do nothing now that can change the way he brought you up.
for allowing me to share this article on unforgiveness. I hope you found this discussion interesting and informative. Most of all, I hope you found it thought provoking.
Would you like to:
- Start at the beginning of this series, Acceptance: The Path to Controlling Physical Reality? You can find it here,
- Continue on to the next article in the series, Acceptance: The Path to Controlling Physical Reality? You can find it here,
- Read the entire story of our purpose in this physical reality and how we create our own reality? You can find it here.
Fond regards, until next time
John RichardAbout the Author
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