Often when I coach people, the real challenges they face are usually because of difficult or toxic relationships. If one considers that we are social creatures and that our whole life and wellbeing is dependent on how we connect and interact with our fellow man, I think it is safe to say that communication and social skills should be truly a sought after mastery.
The reality is however, that even with the necessary emotional and social intelligence skills, we are still not exempt from getting hurt or from being victimized by people in our lives. The other side of the coin is that we can be certain that throughout our lives we will also be hurting others in our spheres of influence be it consciously or sub-consciously.
I have come to accept this as part of the reality we call life. Sometimes the greatest growth I experienced was coming out of a hurtful experience. Some people mirror who we want to become and others mirror who we don’t want to become. Either way, they are contributing to our experience and learning journeys.
Often times people feel that they have to forgive someone who hurt them intentionally, over and over again. When you know that someone meant to damage you, it feels too much to bear to simply forgive them. And yet, people feel guilty when they are not able to “forgive” someone else. That is why you often find people staying in abusive relationships for years. They feel that they should keep on forgiving their abuser and if they don’t they are not a good person. The abuser obviously also capitalizes on this misconception.
So what is forgiveness all about? Forgiveness is not saying that what the other person did to you is right. It is actually just letting go of their influence and power over your life. It is releasing them to face their own consequences and letting go of the emotional pain that you carry with you because of their transgression.
Ideally you want the person to understand what they have done and to repent and transform their way of being so that they do not repeat their abusive behaviour with someone else. However, whether they do or they don’t, is not your concern. You have released them and you can go on with your life and journey without the burden of carrying the pain and bitterness of how they wronged you throughout the rest of your life.
I watched a talk of Ty Gibson the other day, who explained it beautifully. He mentioned that forgiveness does not mean that you will automatically trust the people who hurt you again. If your father for instance sexually abused you as a child, you can forgive him and truly wish the best for him and even have a new relationship with him, but that does not mean that you will ever allow your children to be alone with him.
We need to take extreme ownership of our choices, our relationships and our own responsibilities. Setting boundaries is a healthy exercise, and by doing that, we can still be part of someone’s life but not allow their toxic behaviour to sabotage our happiness and success.
Ty mentioned that even according to scripture people have the right to leave a relationship when they are being physically abused, sexually abused or verbally abused. Being verbally abused can have the same impact and sometimes even more impact than physical abuse. In terms of a marriage or committed relationship, the fourth reason would be committing adultery.
So many times people are trapped in abusive or toxic relationships for years. The fear grows into bitterness and bitterness into hate and eventually destroys their health, happiness, inner peace, passion, purpose, love and motivation.
Letting someone go might be the wakeup call they need to reflect on who they are and possibly change their way of being, not just for the sake of others but for their own salvation.
As for the victim, no one but you can make the decision to take control of your own destiny and life. The one thing that no one can take from us is our power of choice, our decision to say yes or no to whatever life serves us. No matter how difficult the situation, we either choose to be the victim, or the victor. Happiness starts when you decide to take extreme ownership of your decisions, relationships, future and choices.
Forgiving someone else is about setting yourself free …