“Holding on to hate and anger is like drinking poison everyday hoping the other person dies” -Anonymous
I love this quote because it is so true. I think we all know that holding on to hate and anger takes a toll on our physical health, emotional well-being, stress level, and on our other relationships- particularly our romantic partnerships.
So why do we do it?
Exploring and understanding why we resist something is the most important step in any change we want to make in our lives. This is especially true for forgiveness.
You can follow every plan, every suggestion, read every book there is on forgiveness but if you don’t first understand why you’ve held onto the anger and resentment, it’s very hard to allow yourself to move towards forgiveness.
5 Resistance Causing Misconceptions About Forgiveness
1. Forgiveness is for the other person, the person who is forgiven.
Actually, forgiveness is for you, the person doing the forgiving. It’s not about accepting what the other person has done, or is doing to you, or letting the behavior continue. Forgiveness is about releasing the hate and anger you are holding onto while maintaining healthy boundaries for yourself.
2. Forgiveness has to happen all at once.
Forgiveness, like anything, is a journey.
You may wake up one day and find yourself unexpectedly feeling all the anger and resentment you thought you had released. It is OK if this happens! Just take some time to notice what has brought all this up for you again. What did you miss before? What do you need now? And then go through the process of releasing again. Each time you do this it will get easier and easier, and there will be less to return to you in the future.
3. Drama equals being popular and unique.
In this day of reality TV where drama sells like hotcakes it’s easy to get sucked into creating your own drama to keep up. Whether it’s The Real Housewives, Survivor, or The Bachelorette the person who causes the most drama gets the most screen time. But have you ever noticed how unhappy these people look, and how quickly you stop caring about them?
Drama and chaos isolate you from the people in your life, especially your romantic partner, and turn you into that person that everyone avoids, like Danielle from the Real Housewives of New Jersey. And like Danielle, once you are seen as this person the only way you can get attention from the people in your life going forward is to create more drama.
4. Forgiveness equals weakness.
We often confuse grudges often with boundaries. Having the drama and chaos that come from grudges as part of our personal boundaries does not make our boundaries stronger. These distractions actually make our boundaries more difficult to find and therefore more difficult to be respected by the people in our lives, and by ourselves.
Letting go of resentment and drama makes us more clear about our needs and expectations. Ultimately, this means we are seen as, and feel, stronger.
5. Forgiving my partner means they’ll keep doing the things that tick me off.
Think about the people in your life that treat you with annoyance, grudges, and blame- how likely are you to do something nice for them? Why would it be any different for your partner? Coming from a place of forgiveness vs. resentment can bring about huge changes in our partners actions.
Remember, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar! This is always true, no matter how long you’ve been with your partner.