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4 Questions To Ask Before Deciding To Forgive Someone | The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

4 Questions To Ask Before Deciding To Forgive Someone | The Rev. Christopher L. Smith
4 Questions To Ask Before Deciding To Forgive Someone | The Rev. Christopher L. Smith


When you have become emotionally close to another person, you have become more vulnerable. Vulnerability opens the doors for a person to do things that hurt, which often comes out when conflicts arise. At the same time, you can develop higher expectations about what the other person does and how they should act towards you.

This also can lead to unfulfilled expectations which could result in resentment or even anger, even without the other person knowing they have done something to hurt you. So, how are you able to forgive someone you love — and when should you offer that forgiveness to them?

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Four questions to ask yourself before deciding to forgive someone

1. Explore how your spirituality allows you to be forgiven for things you have done

If you come from one of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), forgiveness is rooted in history based on how God has forgiven humans over time. If you come from traditions out of the Indic family of religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism), forgiveness is rooted in an understanding of interconnectedness and cultivated from a philosophy of peace.

If you come from aboriginal or indigenous religions, forgiveness may be in the work of the spirits — though I certainly am not an expert in every indigenous tradition. Regardless of where these roots are, at your essence, you have needed forgiveness as well as the reasons why you have been able to be forgiven.

Photo: Nadya-Korobkova via Shutterstock

2. Explore how you need to be forgiven for things you have done.

If you honestly reflect on the history of your relationship, you have done things (intentionally or unintentionally) that you needed forgiveness from the one you loved. What allowed you to receive forgiveness? What allowed the one you love to forgive you? When you have needed forgiveness, what allowed this to occur? What effect did it have on both of you and your relationship?

RELATED: How To Know When To Forgive And When To Forget

3. Explore how not forgiving is affecting you.

Is refusing to forgive and allowing the anger and resentment to spread or affect other areas of your life or relationship? Are you being changed in negative ways because of your emotions or focus on having been wronged?



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