By z4029250730, Oct 24 2016 04:48PM
Forgiveness is the sort of thing that we all know (in our heads) sounds a nice, kind, good thing to do but that many of us in fact can struggle with. I mean, who wants to forgive the idiot who almost ran you off the road, the burglar who ransacked your home or the bully that is making your child’s life a misery. Far better to hate them, pound them, judge and despise them. Of course it is. Or is it? Is that really going to help you? Or your kids who you’re (hopefully) trying to role-model life to?
In my role as a private practice counsellor in Kettering, a G.P.’s counsellor in Corby and a prison counsellor at Wellingborough and Littlehey, I have counselled around 1200 people over the last few years. Only one person has ever come to me out of all those people and said, “David, I have a problem with unforgiveness,” and recognised it as such. Only one. And yet I have encountered it, challenged and discussed it dozens - if not hundreds - of times. When you start taking the ‘jam-jar’ lid off people’s lives behind closed doors in a counselling session, then you would be amazed at what can come up. And it can be very deep. Bitterness, anger, rage and judgements, resentments, unforgiveness and hate.
I specialise in couple and marriage counselling in my Kettering counselling practice and I sometimes encounter couples where grievances are held, remembered and even nurtured and then wheeled out when the next shouting match starts. But as someone famous said (I think it was St. Augustine), “Forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” Very astute and absolutely true, because sometimes the person who has wronged us isn’t even remorseful - and in some instances would even do it again if given the chance! So we cannot afford for our forgiveness to rely on other people. It has to rely on OUR choices and responses. As difficult as that is. Otherwise unforgiveness can play havoc on our emotions.
Sometimes forgiveness is a CHOICE. And it certainly isn’t an emotion – as who FEELS like forgiving. It has to be a mental assent – followed by a personal choice of the will. Difficult I know but always worthwhile. Someone else said that in life it is not what happens to us but how we respond that is the most important thing. We can get bitter or better.
In my experience, people can’t always forgive until they have had a chance to ‘work through’ the anger. Otherwise it can be like trying to apply an ‘elastoplast’ of forgiveness to a gaping wound of rage and anger and hate. Forgiveness is like a balm to the wound but the infection needs addressing also. That needs to be looked at and dealt with too. But it is so worthwhile. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said back in South African apartheid days, “Forgiveness is not just a good thing to do. It is is the best form of self-interest.” That makes sense. It certainly does. Forgiving helps our emotional life develop and can take some of the painful sting out of life’s events and traumas.
If you feel you are having a problem forgiving somone and feel that some counselling could help – either face-to-face or via Skype – then please feel free to contact me. I offer a 30 minute free initial consultation at my Kettering counselling room and then you can decide if counselling re. a forgiveness issue is the way forward for you..