Live & Uncensored
Ryees S. Alexander had grown used to pain, to unbelief, to frustration, anger, secretiveness, seductiveness & mysteriousness
Thursday, February 9, 2012
FORGIVE AND FORGET
This phrase I heard often. Let’s examine the concept of forgiving and forgetting in an adult relationship.
What does forgiving in a relationship mean?
Here are some examples for the forgiver:
• Forgiving in a relationship means that you accept that no-one is perfect
• Forgiving in a relationship means that you are not prepared to hold grudges
• Forgiving in a relationship means that you genuinely believe that your partner/person feels remorse and are sincerely sorry for their word and or actions
• Forgiving in a relationship means that you have accepted your partner’s explanation
• Forgiving in a relationship means that your partner has accepted the blame and owned up to whatever it is they have said or done and that you believe that your partner will learn from his/her mistakes and will not repeat the deed in the future
• Forgiving in a relationship means that you will trust your partner and are prepared to continue with the relationship without putting barriers in place
• To forgiving someone/your partner is the open display of the love you feel for him/her
• Forgiving in a relationship is letting go of grudges, lies and disappointment
What is the difference between forgiving and forgetting?
Here are some examples for the forgiver:
• Forgetting is being able to put the past behind you and no longer let this issue form a barrier between you and your partner
• Forgetting is no longer referring to the issue that caused the problem. Never throwing up to your partner jibes and comments of what took place at that time
• Forgetting is being able to let go of hurt and anger and not allowing these emotions to erode your relationship
• Forgetting the deed will strengthen your relationship in the long-term
• Forgetting is the ability to enable your partner to re-establish a loving relationship with you
• Forgetting is adhering to a joint ‘plan’ that re-establishes basic behavior and ground rules in the relationship
• Forgetting is letting go any thoughts of revenge
‘What do you believe forgiving and forgetting means?’
Here are some examples to help you:
• If you ask forgiveness you want it understood that you don’t want to speak about the incident again
• If you ask for forgiveness you want it understood that you don’t want your partner to interpret this as a sign that you are feeble
• If you ask for forgiveness you want it understood that you don’t want your partner to use this against you
• If you ask for forgiveness you want it understood that it has been difficult for you to do and are only doing so because you believe the relationship is worth you both trying harder to make it work
In Step 1 I suggested a list of questions you should ask yourself. In this Step I am encouraging you to answer these questions. Take as long as you like, but answer them honestly. I will assist you in this exercise by offering an explanation of each question.
I will repeat the questions I mentioned in Step 1 and will give an explanation for each of them:
• Have you asked someone/your partner to forgive you?
• Have you really wanted to be forgiven by that person/your partner?
• Have you only asked to be forgiven in order to keep your partner happy and continue to believe that they are still in control of the relationship?
• Have you found it easy to ask for forgiveness?
• Have you asked for forgiveness so many times that you now feel de-valued and lacking self-worth?
• Have you paid the price of repeatedly asking for forgiveness from your partner even when you have done no wrong?
• Have you lost the love you had for your partner through accepting blame and because you have been expected to ask for forgiveness?
Let’s look at the first question:
1. ‘Have you asked someone/your partner to forgive you?’
If you answer ‘yes’ to this question then you will know how difficult and embarrassing it is to acknowledge to your partner the fact that you believe and own that you have made a mistake. This gesture requires courage and honesty. If you are or were able to ask for forgiveness the non-verbal communication you are giving your partner is that you won’t make the same mistake again. If you are not genuine in asking for forgiveness then you will be asking your partner for forgiveness because you know that is what is needed for your partner to forget the problem. In other words you are lying to your partner for your own hidden agenda.
In order to move on and have a healthy relationship it is vital that you mean what you say and that you are not just saying the words to ‘shut your partner up’.
If you are honest and really mean what you say, how did it feel asking for forgiveness?
Here are some examples of how it feels to ask for forgiveness?
• It feels humiliating
• It feels embarrassing
• It feels humbling
• It feels confrontational
• It feels empowering
• It feels that you are trusting and have blind faith in the process of forgiveness
• It feels childish that at my age I need to ask for forgiveness
• It feels like you are emotionally cleansing your mind
• It feels like a relief to get it off your chest
• It feels like letting go of something bad
• It feels like the beginning of a fresh start
Has your partner/someone ever thrown something up to you that you have asked forgiveness for?
If you have experienced this act of betrayal of trust, then you will be disinclined to be honest and own up in the future. Trust is an essential element in moving on from asking for forgiveness and it is the last thing you would expect your partner to do.
If you have experienced this act of betrayal how did/does it make you feel?
Here are some examples:
• It makes you feel betrayed
• It makes you feel worthless
• It makes you feel foolish
• It makes you feel you will never apologise or ask for forgiveness again
• It makes you feel embarrassed particularly if it is done in front of other people
• It makes you feel hurt
• It makes you feel angry
• It makes you feel revengeful
• It makes you feel resentment
As you can see this list is endless. These are all powerful feelings that will be imprinted in your memory and will stop you from being honest and owning up to anything else in the future.
In the forgiving and forgetting stage what are the thoughts and emotions you are aware of?
Here are some examples to assist you:
• The thoughts provoke you to look at yourself
• The thoughts provoke you to look at your partner
• The thoughts provoke you to value your relationship
• The thoughts provoke you to being anxious about appearing vulnerable to you partner
• The thoughts provoke you to feel sorry that you have messed things up
It is difficult to look at yourself, your behavior, attitude, actions, speech but this is integral to coming to terms with identifying what it is exactly that needs to change.
Let’s take a look at each of these statements
The thoughts provoke you to look at yourself
Some people do not want to look at their own behaviour. Others believe that they are always right whatever the circumstances. To forgive and forget you will accept that you must look at the part you have played in the scenario that has unfolded. If you cannot see that you had a part to play and acknowledge what that part was, you will be unable to move on from this stuck stage. It is the height of vanity and arrogance to believe that you are always totally blameless.
The thoughts provoke you to look at your partner
Most people find it easier to look at the behaviour of others than to look at their own behaviour. You are too ready to criticise someone else than to criticise yourself. If I asked you to make a list of your partner’s bad points I am sure that you could recall and identify your partner’s bad points very quickly. You will find it easier to pin point the role your partner has played in the scenario and will blank out or block your role in the scenario. Love is being able to love your partner despite his/her faults.
The thoughts provoke you to value your relationship
When you are able to acknowledge and accept your role in the scenario and also accept that you have played a significant part in creating and continuing the problem, then you will see that you must take partial responsibility and accountability for the way things have turned out. The negative side of acceptance is that you might feel foolish that you have jumped to conclusions too soon and interpreted what your partner has said or done wrongly. The positive side of acceptance is that you are behaving as a mature adult in finding out and accepting that you did have a role to play and that you are prepared to accept the responsibility of your errors.
The thoughts provoke you to be anxious about appearing vulnerable to your partner
If you feel vulnerable due to accepting responsibility for your actions in the scenario it will be because accepting responsibility is a new thing for you to do and the more you understand yourself and your interactions with others/your partner, the easier it will be for you to do this.
The thoughts provoke you to feeling sorry that you have messed things up
2. Have you really wanted to be forgiven by your partner?
You should only ask for forgiveness from your partner if you genuinely believe that you were partly to blame. Before asking for forgiveness it is essential that you look at your role in the situation and are able to identify where you went wrong in your interaction with your partner regarding the conflicting issue. If you are unable to do this, asking for forgiveness is useless in the moving on stage as there will be no moving on for either of you when this happens as the future will be based on a lie.
3. Have you only asked for forgiveness in order to keep your partner happy and continue to believe that they are still in control of the relationship?
Ask yourself, ‘how many times have you asked for forgiveness just to keep your partner happy?’ and ‘why do you do this?’ Many women I have counselled have used this strategy on a regular basis. It’s the ‘peace at any price’ method. When you adopt this strategy what you are actually doing is storing up the conflicting issues in your memory box and continuing doing this will result in you becoming resentful and bitter towards your partner.
4. Have you found it easy to ask for forgiveness?
When you ask for forgiveness it is natural to feel vulnerable and foolish. The truth is, however, that saying you are sorry and asking for forgiveness strengthens your mind, re-energises your soul and empowers you. You will feel humility perhaps for the first time and whilst this experience highlights your weakness it will be beneficial in the long term by strengthening your character.
5. Have you asked for forgiveness so many times that you now feel devalued and lacking in self-worth?
If your partner is in control of the relationship and expects you to be servile to him/her you will feel disempowered and lacking in self-worth. It’s a vicious circle isn’t it? Your partner expects you to react in a particular way and you try to fulfil your obligations by complying to his/her wishes but when do you stop reacting and using this disabling method? To restate this question, ‘how can you begin to look at each other and your relationship in a more positive light?
Here are some ideas and options that you could try:
• You can do this by putting each other first
• You can do this by taking the first step in changing your reactions during arguments. Not any drastic changes just small simple ones that don’t require much effort on your part
• Find out what your usual pattern is when you are in conflict with your partner. Do you run to a friend or a family member for support? Try not to do this and instead remove yourself from the room and occupy yourself with some trivial task. By doing this you are sending several non-verbal messages to your partner that you (a) are not fazed by the conflict and do not need someone else to support you (b) you are confident enough to deal with yourself (c) you don’t put the problem and the conflict high on your support agenda. This will have an affect on the way your partner behaves and it should draw you closer to each other
• Devise a structure to get back your self-worth. Join a gym, join an educational class, go out shopping with friends, do anything that will empower you but nothing that will distance yourself any further from your partner
• During arguments. Stop speaking and ask for a hug. Your partner might be shocked and refuse to give you one but if you are persuasive I am sure that you will get one eventually. Doing this will, temporarily disarm your partner
• Aim for better communication between the two of you. Tell your partner that you don’t like arguing and would rather talk things through rationally and calmly
• Ask your partner how you could support him/her and tell your partner how he/she can support you
• Try and spend quality time together doing things, i.e., a walk, movies, meeting up with friends. By doing these things you will both be distracted from the conflict you are experiencing and also it will stop either of you needing support from others
• Re-make a commitment to each other
6. Have you paid the price of repeatedly asking for forgiveness from your partner even when you have done no wrong?
If you have engaged in this interaction you will have paid the price by experiencing your personality diminishing, your assertiveness evaporating, your behaviour becoming pathetic, and you will be unable to make a decision because you are treading on egg shells around your partner. All these things are a high price to pay particularly when you believe that you have done nothing wrong. This continued behaviour on your part will make you resentful of your partner which will create a distance between you that will be difficult to overturn. Please take into consideration that your behaviour only serves to reinforce your partner’s power over you and in the relationship. The bottom line is that you are actually colluding with your partner to ensure for him/her to stay the same. It is tempting in the first instance to adopt this method during conflict but it cannot be sustained over a long period of time without bitterness eroding the relationship. Continuing this practice can also result in you becoming depressed.
7. Have you lost the love you had for your partner through accepting blame and because you have been expected to ask for forgiveness?
Unfortunately this is the consequence of an unrealistic expectation your partner has placed on you and which you have succumbed to. Controlling someone is a risky business for the controller in that the relationship will only succeed on his/her terms. Eventually the servile partner will ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ and will want to stop behaving and reacting in this way. That is when the trouble really starts and the nastiness begins. The years you have spent hiding the bitterness and resentment will explode and will be difficult to contain. It will take a sold relationship and a lot of love to overcome this situation.
Here are some examples on how to overcome this situation:
• The servile partner must let go past resentments and hostility
• The servile partner will have to have ‘blind faith’ in moving on from this place
• The servile partner will have to release fears that he/she has hung on to
• The servile partner will have to take risks to overcome the situation
• The servile partner will have to work through the anger they are feeling (either with their partner, a trusted friend of a therapist
• The servile partner will have to practice and be comfortable with open and honest communication
• The servile partner will need to learn how to trust
• The servile partner must start believing that everyone has the capacity to change
• The servile partner must recognise and acknowledge their part in the conflicting scenarios
Here are some examples for the Controlling partner to adopt:
• The controller must learn to accept that his/her partner is an equal and has a right to be heard and have their say
• The controller must allow his/her partner to grow in the relationship
• The controller must allow sufficient time to elapse in order for the servile partner to readjust into his/her new role
• The controller must let go of his/her fears and need to control the relationship
• The controller must learn to take a risk and allow his/her partner to take the lead in the relationship some of the time
• The controller must learn to develop trust in his/her partner
• The controller must realise that the relationship is not a competition-no-one is the winner in a loving relationship
• The controller must learn their part in the conflicting scenario and be prepared to look at their thoughts, actions and behaviour patterns
• The controller should have support and/or guidance from a trusted friend, their partner or a professional therapist
This is a huge block to overcome for both partners and the good news is that it can be done.
Another exercise that could be useful at this stage of development is to ask these questions:
• Who is responsible for my behaviour in the conflict?
• Who is responsible for my reaction in the conflict?
• Who is responsible for my feelings in the conflict?
• Who is responsible for me being stuck in the conflict?
When you are able to answer these questions honestly you can move on to the next stage in the exercise.
• How can I put this conflict behind me?
• How can I forgive my partner?
• How can I make sure that I won’t be hurt in future conflicts if I let go of control?
• What reward do I get for blaming my partner for the feelings I experience?
If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. - Mother Theresa