Should We See Forgiveness as an Act of Power?
We may wonder whether it is good or right to look at forgiveness as an act of power. Perhaps we think you should only forgive out of high-minded ideals, or that we should only forgive for benefit of others. The answer to this is to look at our own life and our own mind. Has this approach brought us the results we want? Are we as forgiving as we would like to be? How many times have we heard, or told ourselves, that we ‘should’ forgive someone, yet find ourselves struggling, or even be totally unable to do it? How many times have we wanted to become more forgiving, but made only a little progress, or it just did not happen? Perhaps we have even been storing up guilt or shame because we are not as forgiving as we believe we ought to be. The very thing which should be freeing us, forgiveness, becomes another trap when we pile lots of ‘shoulds’ on top of it.
High-minded ideals do not reach low-level gut feelings. We need to build a bridge between our ideals about forgiveness and the gut level part of us which needs to forgive. If we are not as forgiving as we would like to be it may be because we have tried to avoid, or tried to leave behind, our gut level feelings rather than resolve them.
The part of us which most needs to forgive is not convinced by arguments about forgiveness being the ‘right’ thing to do, the merciful thing to do, or the compassionate thing to do. Nor is it convinced much by foggy promises of rewards in a some future afterlife. It may be well be that it is something as basic as our survival instinct which is holding us back from forgiving. Part of us may be afraid that if we forgive in some situations we risk further pain, serious damage, or we may even risk getting killed. We may need to show this part of ourselves that there are ways in which we can forgive which will not cause us further harm before we can allow ourselves to forgive. We may need to convince ourselves that it is safe to forgive before we can do so. We need to look at what blocks us from forgiving and find ways to meet the legitimate needs of those parts of us which do not yet want to forgive.
High ideals about forgiveness have their place; but they are not usually enough to enable us to be truly forgiving. If they were enough more of us would find forgiveness a lot easier. Although we can see forgiveness as a merciful, or compassionate thing to do, we can also look at forgiveness as an act of personal power for that perspective offers immense value too.
Anything which helps motivate us to be more forgiving is all to the good. It is better to forgive because of the ways it benefits us than to not forgive at all. Forgiveness helps free us from the pains of the past and the pains of the present, it helps us determine the effect which our experience will have on us. It helps us be free of being a victim of life and events. Anything which does this is undeniably powerful. Whatever else it is, forgiveness is and act of power.