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I am struggling with my brother who did something really inconsiderate, and I can’t seem to let it go. I know that it’s probably causing me more pain than it’s causing him, but I just can’t forgive him yet. My whole family is bugging me to forgive him, but it’s not that easy. Any suggestions to make this easier?
There is a reason most of us struggle with forgiveness: There are very real benefits to staying mad or hurt. Here are some possible reasons you might not want to forgive someone:
Choose a mindset
Forgiveness may feel near impossible right now, but changing your perspective and looking at the issue a different way might make you feel completely different. In this situation, you have two perspective options and you must choose one of them. If you don’t consciously choose a mindset, your subconscious mind will choose for you — and it is usually going to let your ego drive.
Option 1: A judgment and condemnation mindset.
With a judgment and condemnation mindset, you believe life is a test and we (human beings) must earn a sense of value. Here, any mistakes you make count against your value, which means some people inevitably end up seeming better than other people. With this mindset, you see human value as changeable and based on our behavior, appearance, property, etc. In this place, there is judgment, criticism, attack, gossip, guilt and a constant fear that you aren’t good enough. This fear-driven mindset makes you focus on the bad in others and cast them as worse than you so you can feel like the better person. This mindset creates anxiety, insecurity, and fear of failure. If you choose this mindset, you will always struggle to forgive others because you must condemn them to feel safe and good about yourself.
Option 2: A trust and forgiveness mindset
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, you believe life is a classroom where humans are meant to learn and grow. In this classroom you can erase any mistakes and try again, and no mistake affects your value. With this mindset, everyone has the exact same intrinsic worth, and that worth cannot change no matter what bad choices we make. Bad choices just sign us up for some interesting lessons and create educational consequences you then get to work through — but, you always have the same value as everyone else.
With a trust and forgiveness mindset, insults and mistreatment happen to make us stronger, wiser and more loving, and you can believe there is purpose and blessings that come from them. Here, you can see the positives that each negative experience creates, and you are grateful for the strength and wisdom you gain from them. With this mindset, you don’t need to condemn others to feel safe because you believe you are safe all the time. With this mindset, you understand your value is infinite and absolute, and so is everyone else’s.
Forgiveness is easier here because you trust that you can’t be diminished, or have your journey ruined, because it is always the perfect classroom for you. When you trust the universe that it knows what it’s doing, it is easier to let offenses go and forgive.
The question you must ask yourself is: How do you want to live?
Choosing a trust and forgiveness mindset means you don’t hold onto offenses or mistakes. You let yourself and everyone else be a work in progress or a student in the classroom of life with much more to learn. You give forgiveness to others because you want to feel good enough yourself.
More tips to help you forgive
Here are a couple of other tips to make forgiveness easier:
If you choose this mindset, you will feel safe, loved, whole and good about yourself, and life will be more peaceful and happy.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.