In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the fear to forgive.
First a quick update:
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Now, let’s talk about the fear of forgiveness.
I am writing this newsletter from Australia where I am taping a couple of TV shows and visiting family.
It was Sunday afternoon. And feeling like I needed a mental break, I decided to seek out sunlight, fresh air and wide open spaces.
I headed to the beach and was enjoying a walk on the pier at Seaford. I was taking a photo of the sun glimmering on the water when a lady stopped and said, “Your photo won’t work because you are shooting into the sun.”
‘That’s okay. I am shooting down into the water’ I responded.
From there, a conversation began and knowing that I was based in the US, she mentioned her interest in Cesar Millan the “Dog Whisperer” and asked me if I believed in his work and TV show.
‘Yes. Cesar has great success because he helps the dog owners transform and teaches them that their dog is responding to their emotions. If the owners are anxious, nervous and out of control, so too, is the dog.’
“My first dog used to speak to me almost like a human. I mean, he would grunt and turn his head away” she said.
‘So like you, he too, had a dominant personality’, I said smiling
She tried to deny it but then admitted she was testing me to see how accurately I could read her.
“What job do you think I used to do?”
Without knowing anything else about her, I said ‘I see you working with children or as a nurse with children, caring, nurturing and protecting them.’
Wanting to further test me, she denied it and then eventually admitted that she had been a teacher for over 35 years and gave special attention to troubled children and battled the educational system to teach her way.
“What else to you read about me?”
‘You are angry and you don’t trust anyone and that’s why you became dominant – to protect yourself and to protect children.’
“Well, you have to. You either sink or swim!”
She opened up and told me of her hatred for men because she had been abused by her father and her husband.
“I have been in years of therapy and read lots of books but nothing seems to help.”
‘You know the answer is forgiveness, right?’
“No. No. No. I am not going to forgive them. I am much too angry” she said pacing around the pier.
‘You don’t have to forgive them, you know? You can stay as angry as you like and for as long as you like. But if you want peace and if you want love in your life again, you will need to forgive them.’
“No way” she said as she turned her body away from me but kept looking at me.
‘Forgiveness isn’t about them; it’s about you. They don’t know and maybe don’t even care about what you are feeling right now.’
“Yes, I don’t talk to them.”
‘Forgiveness will set you free, not them. It’s a poison in your heart and body.’
“I know but I am not going to forgive them!”
‘You think that if you forgive them, you are condoning what they did, right? You think if you forgive them, you are letting them off the hook, right?’
“Yes, they shouldn’t get away with what they did. They should be punished.”
‘But it’s hurting and punishing you. You can forgive them and still recognize what they did was horrible and hurtful.’
“But I don’t know how and I am not ready.”
‘Do you remember that 7-year-old boy you told me about? Your student – the one who was hurt, shut down and afraid? The one whose parents were alcoholics and you helped him and showed love to him. Do you remember how you spoke to him? Imagine you are speaking to the little girl that you were when you were hurt. What would you say to her?’
She looked at me and she had paused. She was quiet.
‘The same way you probably told that little boy that it’s not his fault and he is loveable, you can tell yourself.’
Again, I could see she was thinking and processing my words.
It was also obvious to me that she was still not ready to forgive.
‘I know you are afraid of forgiving them and letting them off the hook. I know you are also afraid of letting go of the anger which has been protecting you all of these years. But now, it has formed a hard wall around you and I can tell you want to connect with other people and you are tired of being alone. So, it’s okay, and you don’t have to let go of the anger or forgive them; you can do it whenever you are ready.’
We said a few more words and then she gently left, simply saying “Goodbye.”
We never exchanged names and she told me that she didn’t have a computer. But the hope remains that perhaps this encounter on a pier, and my words and suggestion, did plant the seed of forgiveness that will flourish into inner peace and happiness.
Ask yourself about whom you need to forgive and why you are afraid to forgive. We all have someone in our life whom we need to forgive.
If you would like more help and support on the path to forgiveness and emotional freedom, listen to my audio book “Secrets to getting over it” with insights and exercises – focusing on how to let go of the pain and the past.
Also consider some of the reasons behind the fear to forgive:
- We expect everyone to be perfect and we want them to change
- We want to punish: “I’m not going to let him or her get away with that. No way! I’m not going to encourage that sort of behavior.”
- We fear that if we do forgive them we are condoning their actions and their behavior and we’re saying it’s OK for them to do that
- We want to keep ourselves safe. We want to protect ourselves because we think if “I forgive that person I might let that person into my life and they might hurt me again”
- We want to teach that person a lesson. “You know what? I’m going to teach you a lesson. You’re not going to do this to me again. I’m going to make you suffer.”
- We want them to feel our pain. “I’m going to let you know how much you hurt me by how much I am going to hurt you.”
- Our upbringing has taught us not to give people a second chance
- We are afraid to face our own mistakes; we resent ourselves and refuse to forgive ourselves
Also read my other articles on forgiveness:
- “Why therapy and forgiveness don’t work” (getting past your logic and conscious mind to the root cause)
- “The biggest block to happiness and gratitude” (overcoming resentment)
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.