Last week I addresses WHY we need to forgive.  But HOW do we this without being perceived as weak, or worse not only a push-over but a personal human doormat with a welcome sign on it inviting all to wipe their feet on us?

To me, it depends on how we perceive the act of forgiveness.

Some see forgiveness as a sign of flip-flopping or indecisiveness. Others see it as a form of weakness, the inability to stand up for oneself. While yet others view it as someone who is inviting more abuse to be directed his way…a glaring invitation with that huge bat signal stating…hello, I am here….I am a human doormat.

So stomp on me as I will forgive.

I personally see forgiveness as the only way to be and live.

And I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been in situations where I have been grossly and deeply betrayed by ones I have trusted most. Some instances involved business partners and business situations. Others involved personal relationships and family members. And yet others involved all of the above.

Betrayal cuts one to the core. It makes you question not only the betrayer, but yourself. And if you are unable to move past it, to forgive (even if you don’t forget) then you are unable to trust and live. What kind of existence it that?

Succinctly put betrayal makes us angry and anger keeps us cycling in the patterns that created the source of anger in the first place. It keeps us stuck.

So what to do? Retaliate? Humiliate? Seek revenge?  Surrender? Those are primal, gut instincts that kick in. They are reactions easy to embrace. But are they productive for anyone?  Probably not.

What if instead of continuing the cycle of betrayal, anger, surrender, hate, and the inability to forgive, we try a different tactic and instead  find a way to let it go and move on?

One of my favorite quotes of wisdom from one of my most revered world sages comes from Gandhi.  They are words I’ve to grown to live by.

“The weak cannot forgive; forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”—Gandhi

The weak can’t forgive for they chose to dwell in the pain and the past. In the end the only one harmed by this is the one holding the grudge, the one unable to forgive. Trust me, while you are living in the anger of the betrayal of the past, the other person HAS moved on.

They might not have learned and they might still be repeating their patterns of betrayal toward others, but they moved on from the time when you were the recipient or part of the equation. They could care less about you and your feelings. Whether they learned from their ways, actions and past is not your concern. What is your concern is have you learned from the experience–have you clung to the grudge or have you released it?

To release it you must first forgive.

To forgive means to be able to view the situation in its entirety—to be able to say that yes, this hurt, perhaps even destroyed me, but I will no longer give it any power over me or my life. I will regain and retain control and therefore I will no longer dwell in the pain of the experience, the memory of it or the power it swayed over me.

Instead I will learn to never treat another as I have been treated and I will live my life according to a code of honor, respect, dignity and personal integrity toward myself and toward all. As such the experience no longer has any power or sway over me or my life. I am free from it all.

That is how you forgive others without becoming a personal human doormat.


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