Thoughts on Forgiveness

This post by Anne LaFleur was originally posted at The Gift Of Happiness.

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness. Here is my take on it at the moment:

When I forgive myself, it doesn't necessarily mean that I did anything wrong, or that I had hurtful intentions, or that I am bad or deserve to be punished. What it means is that I recognize I contributed to someone's pain, and I'm sorry, because I don't want to be a person who hurts people.

When I forgive you, it doesn't necessarily mean that I condone what you did, or that your actions didn't hurt me, or that I want to be your friend. It simply means that I don't want to hate you. Because hating you makes me feel small and weak and horrible.

I think it's important to realize that sometimes I will hurt you, and that you will hurt me. That is the nature of being in relationship. We all have different beliefs, desires and abilities, and they don't always mesh smoothly.

Forgiveness has very little to do with things being good or bad, right or wrong.

Forgiveness is powerful because it means I am no longer fighting against reality, or requiring that life be different than it is in order for me to be okay.

Forgiveness allows me to experience the anger and sadness of a situation and then let it go, opening up space for what I do want.

When I'm feeling bad, I will often write myself love notes like this:

I forgive you, Annie, for being you. I forgive you for your petty thoughts and judgments, your fear-based excuses, your confusion and embarrassment, your self-centeredness and impatience. I forgive you for not knowing what to say, not doing what you said you would do, for being disappointed with yourself and others. You are human and imperfect, and I love you anyway.

What about you? What is your understanding of forgiveness?  Where does it trip you up? What practices work well for you? I would love to hear!

--Anne LaFleur