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How to Forgive What Feels Unforgivable

Val isn't playing life coach by sharing some useful ideas gathered over 7 decades of life experience and hundreds of books on human nature.

There are times in life when a hurt  is not serving us as a good adviser.

There are times in life when a hurt is not serving us as a good adviser.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has courage to admit them.

— Bruce Lee

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

Needless to say, the following is not covering those extreme cases where violence or heavy disrespect caused people to part. It's about those most common issues where hurt may be deep, but not beyond repair, because love is not completely gone.

Now, it seems to be one of those givens in life, when even a lousy fortuneteller can't go wrong by predicting that sooner or later, someone we love is bound to hurt our feelings.

If that was not so, many of those musical hits about unanswered or betrayed love would have never made it to the top.

As it usually happens, time takes care of most of those hurts to heal, with only a memory left of something that is not to be repeated -- so love moves on, just a little wiser.

However, there are those hurts which at the very start carry with them an oath -- "never to forgive."

Should it be one of those extreme cases mentioned at the start, that promise to ourselves would be more than justified.

Other than that, does it really have to be the end of it? For, sometimes, we just don't know the way out of that oath, while there is that secret wish to discover it.

Maybe in the name of all those good times with happy memories, now competing with that hurt in our judging heart. Those that just don't fit in that coffin where we buried that love, with our oath "never to forgive" providing the nails.

Then, maybe there has all along been a nagging little doubt about a possible trace of our own contribution to that outcome. Or, how about a little doubt about our overreacting?

Well, a heart of a good person can never contain enough poison for which it wouldn't have an antidote. So, like a few songs have already said it before me -- "It's so hard to say goodbye."

To be perfect would be a very lonely life.

To be perfect would be a very lonely life.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

— Mahatma Gandhi

May No One Claim They're Perfection

Now, let's get to the very core of your hurt by thinking a little about that person in question. I can't tell if it's a lover or a friend, or a family member, so we may try to make it suitable for any.

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As you think about them, try for a moment to strip them of their social image, their "front," and imagine them as just another imperfect human being -- something like yourself, but only in their own style of being imperfect.

At this point, it will help to be O.K. with the notion that our mistakes are not any more dignifying than those of other people -- just because they are ours.

So, maybe we never betrayed anyone's faith in us, never let anyone down, never went tactless and inconsiderate towards anyone, and never lied about ourselves to make a good impression.

Well, if you happen to be one of those -- congratulations, your kind of mistakes are so well undefinable that I could not think of them in this list.

Being perfect we could never have a relationship with imperfect people, since they would never agree to live up to our high expectations.

And even if we never hurt anyone's feelings in the past, how can we be sure that we won't do it in the future? For, we may even do it unintentionally, while not knowing how others may react to something we say or do.

Sometimes we catch people in a bad mood, when anything we say may get on their nerves and be misinterpreted. And one word following the other, suddenly we don't know what it was that we have said that caused such a reaction.

Personally, I can't guarantee anything like not ever to hurt others' feelings -- judging by a never written autobiography in which a little chapter could be filled with my mistakes -- some of them costing people of my life some hurts.

Albeit, if you asked me, I consider myself to be quite a loving, tactful, compassionate, and tolerant dude. People simply make mistakes interacting with others, because they are not perfect -- just like ourselves.

No one is to be treated as our possession.

No one is to be treated as our possession.

When you forgive, you in no way change the past -- but you sure do change the future.

— Bernard Maltzer

Some Lessons to Be Learned From It

If you are even remotely considering breaking the silence, how would you go about it? Again, not knowing specifics, I can't be specific either, but some guidelines may generally come in handy.

The most important part of this readiness to upgrade the renewed relationship is having learned a valuable lesson about "how not to be."

First, proceeding with caution and limited trust is not a part of that lesson. You just have to revise your values and put that matter of trust aside. Namely, we should basically stay clear of situations where that trust could be tested.

In romantic relationships we never have a "life warranty" on our partner, and neither should we treat them as our possession.

My wife and I have been happily married for 57 years -- and "happily" is not just said symbolically. Not for a moment have I treated her as "something mine," regardless of all social and legal aspects suggesting it.

Namely, she is her own person, and she is with me only because she wants it that way, not because she made that promise in front of a City Hall official.

Indeed, we don't possess anybody -- not a lover, a spouse, a friend, or a business partner. They are more likely to stay in our life if we are not pressuring them with proof of their loyalty.

No relationship is an entirely easy ride, but it's two imperfect people who can merely try to make of it the best they can.

No relationship is an entirely easy ride, but it's two imperfect people who can merely try to make of it the best they can.

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

— Alexander Pope

Genuine Love Eradicates a Need to Forgive

Someone said: "Separation is the wind that puts out small flames, and flares up those big ones."

And it's also true for two people who love each other with just a hurt feeling that temporarily separates them.

Indeed, at any time, due to their being merely fallible humans, or because of a hasty misjudgment, they may hurt our emotions -- and it doesn't make them mean, selfish, inconsiderate, or whatever.

If you want your sweetheart or friend back in your life, you might as well revise those "contract" matters, or what your relationship is obligating the two of you to display in the name of that ideal, so unattainable by humans.

No matter how you choose to go about it, don't forget that you love that person, so you don't want to restart it by "first clearing the guilt." Trust me on that one -- it's a big no-no. Your first words might as well follow a smile and a hug with a simple compliment: "Hi, you're looking great."

And if they start with anything along those lines of "clearing the guilt," interrupt, gently changing the subject, maybe even saying something silly like: "It's a nice day, isn't it?"

It is generally a good principle to live by -- to keep alive those nice memories, because they are bound to breed some more.

In other words, don't disturb the crap; let it stay behind while showing that you are ready to move on in the name of whatever the two of you ever had going. You don't want to go backward in your relationship by sweeping your footprints that led to where you are now, but looking forward to whatever chemistry you are capable of creating.

Keep loving that person, knowing that love doesn't sit well on fundaments of excuses, forgiveness, and guilt, let alone making the other person walk around you on eggshells, "not to hurt you again." That wouldn't be love, but an act of mean revenge.

So give a new definition to your love, or your friendship, and then everything will play itself right. There are people in our life that are hard to replace, and we should cherish those we have. It's a lonely life when we are in a habit of weighing others' behavior with an apothecary scale.

It helps to remember that life truism: imperfect people don't make perfect relationships, but can always try to do their best in that direction.

Then it becomes so much easier to junk the word "forgiveness" -- let alone "unforgivable."

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Val Karas

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