Forgiveness is defined as the “process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake.”
A few years ago, when I was going through my NLP training, my trainer defined the process of forgiveness in a way I had never heard before.
Susan Stageman (my trainer) said forgiveness is the ability to let go of the energy, anger, frustration of someone not living up to YOUR expectations.
Now although that seems simple enough, it ultimately puts the burden back on us to forgive since it our expectation that was violated.
I went through memories of different people that I thought had slighted me and realized she was precisely right.
They did not live up to MY expectations for them and I was not happy. I’m sure you have heard some of these statements before:
- They “shoulda” known better.
- They “shoulda” been more thoughtful.
- He should be more of a man.
- She should be more of a woman.
Although I was comfortable with the idea of being responsible, it does give me power. I am reminded of this quote by the great leader Gandhi:
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
What I have found even harder to do is to forgive ourselves. We tend to be so hard on ourselves that we put a huge weight on our shoulders.
Most of us have such high expectations for ourselves for various reasons. In my case I can’t help but feel like I am letting my family down. Failure is seen as a bad thing and forgiving ourselves for not living up to our expectations can be tragic.
Sometimes the only way we can begin to forgive ourselves is when someone we respect tells us it is “alright”. Other times we carry that burden.
We carry the burden of not living up to our own expectations. We simply cannot forgive ourselves for being human.
And again, I am reminded of Gandhi.
So, I must forgive them for not living up to my expectations.