There is a deep belief that in order to better ourselves or make peace with a situation, we need to forgive. This belief may be found deeply embedded in culture and religion world-wide.
This is a problem because if we think about what is involved in forgiving, it requires a lot of the wronged person. So much so that it becomes another burden. We have an expectation that we can let it go, as if it didn’t happen or make excuses for other peoples’ behaviour. As if they can’t help themselves from doing what they do.
Many people forgive out a sense of duty or societal expectation in order to be considered ‘good’. The problem with this is it often results in repressed resentment and anger over the injustice. There is no doubt these feelings need to be defused and resolved.
It is true that hanging onto blame, resentment, anger and bitterness is damaging on many levels, psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually and does nothing to resolve the situation. There is another way.
In my early years I would often feel responsible for the feelings and responses of others and confused over what was mine, or theirs.
I was grateful to discover Family Constellations and its philosophy on this subject. Family Constellations is perfect for defining boundaries. It encourages taking full responsibility for our own actions, choices, thoughts and feelings. It is clear about our responsible for ourselves and those in our care, such as children (under the age of twenty-one), or dependent sick or disabled
We are not responsible for friends, colleagues or lovers. They are our equals. If these are healthy relationships the ‘give and take’ equals out over time with mutual support. We are not responsible for their choices, thoughts, feelings or actions, but we are fully responsible for our own.
If we become clear about this we create really good personal boundaries, so that we are not confused about what is not ours.
The family constellation philosophy is driven by a concept of natural Order. Each person in the family or friendship system having a rightful place. This is where we have our first experience of boundaries. If this is out of order that is our imprint too. Family constellations has shown me another way that is so much more effective at finding boundaries, letting go rather than aspiring to the notion of forgiveness. It requires us to have the maturity to reflect on our part in any situation, and take full responsibility for ourselves and then mentally or emotionally leave the responsibility of what others do with them. This saves us from having to forgive them because they can carry the consequences of their actions for themselves.
In reality I am not better than them, as fundamentally we are equal, so as long as they are reasonably able-bodied, there is no reason why I should save them from themselves or their actions. . There is no need to excuse or forgive them, or take blame for things that are not ours. This is the case even if this is what they would prefer or have become accustomed to. Their wellbeing or comfort is not more important than mine. They are not my children or my responsibility. We are each making our own choices.
Continuing to do what they want and to take blame or alternatively forgive them as if they were helpless beings continues to enable their illusions, beliefs and ability to use others in always putting themselves first.
Examples of this may be any poor behaviour of a friend or lover.
Do you take on such behaviour as if you deserve it, or do you on reflection, accept your part in full and simply leave theirs with them?
I have noticed once people are ready to take full responsibility for themselves there is a deep inner shift that allows them to come out of feeling helpless to being empowered. They own up to their part, their choices and let go of their illusion of how they think it ‘should be,’ stop blaming or taking the blame for what is not theirs and if necessary give or receive a sincere apology. There is no place for forgiveness here as the healing path is in motion.
Many people may be able to do this for themselves while others may require some facilitation in this. I use Family Constellations for systemic issues and Emotional Mind Integration for personal issues or a combination as required in Rapid Core Healing to assist individuals or couples find their own unique healing pathways.
What if those concerned refuse to take responsibility for their part?
We have a choice. If the other is not willing or able to take responsibility for themselves or their beliefs or actions, we don’t have to stay. In most long-term healthy relationships balance in the relationship may ebb and flow a little, but over time even out. If it does not and we continue to forgive without any redress or return to balance, the distance between us becomes too large and the balance of ‘give and take’ becomes too big to keep us together.
Some people prefer to blame rather than become responsible for themselves. That is where they are at, and we can choose to stay or leave.
However, what goes around comes around. We are each responsible for creating our own reality. If we accept our part and leave what is theirs with them, forgiveness is unnecessary and unhelpful in the bigger picture of mature and equitable adult relationships.
We have the responsibility of choosing who we spend our time with and who we attract into our lives if we take back the reigns of our life.
I have found that we can philosophise over this and understand it intellectually but continue to feel over responsible or guilty and confused about what is ours or others in daily life. Family Constellations is a process that can assist you in finding your place with more clarity within your family of origin so that this level of clarity may flow into your present situation life.
I envisage a time where such knowledge is commonplace and more of us are living in integrity and more consciously creating connections that can sustain us and bring us joy.