When you feel hurt or believe you have been treated unfairly, having a forgiving attitude can be difficult.  Yet withholding forgiveness keeps you in a Victim relationship to the person, situation or event, feeling powerless and at the mercy of the unjust deed.

If you hold a grudge, you run the risk of becoming a Persecutor by judging, disconnecting and even feeling vindictive toward the other person or situation.

In our personal relationship, when either of us feels wronged and unwilling to forgive (yes, it happens sometimes), it keeps us in a negative energy—-whether that energy is outwardly expressed or held silently within our own mind and spirit.

To be free of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer, it is essential to learn to forgive, which is one of the most challenging things for we humans to do.

Author of the new book The Five Invitations, Frank Ostaseski writes: “’Resisting forgiveness is like grasping a hot coal and saying, ‘I’m not going to let it go until you apologize and pay for what you have done to me.’   In our effort to punish, we are the ones who get burned.’”

Most people are taught to forgive, so why is it so difficult?  Here are a few questions to gain insight into what may be blocking your forgiveness.

When you have trouble forgiving, do you:

  • Feel the other person needs to be punished?
  • Confuse forgiving with forgetting?
  • Believe that, if you forgive, you are condoning the actions and letting them off the hook?
  • Withhold forgiveness to feel important or powerful—-to be “one up?”
  • Wait for reconciliation, believing you can’t forgive until the other forgives first?

Forgiveness is about an inner change in you.   Instead of living in the past and holding resentments and an unforgiving attitude, you can take responsibility for the things in your control and no longer feel Victim to the original event.

Here are a few places to start:

  1. Reflect upon the questions above and see if there is one that stands out. This may be the clue to what is blocking your forgiveness.
  2. Start with the small things. Forgive a driver that cuts in front of you, the loud co-worker when you are trying to concentrate, the rain when you want sunshine. Developing a forgiving attitude takes practice.
  3. Set boundaries for the behavior that created the feeling of unforgiveness. Take responsibility and begin the shift from Victim to Creator by speaking to what you want and need. For example, if a friend routinely criticizes you and puts you down, setting boundaries of what you are willing to accept empowers you and forgiveness takes root.
  4. Set an intention that you will forgive when you are ready, if you cannot forgive now. Just setting this future intention to forgive can help thaw the negative energy that keeps the relationship in the DDT.

As long as you hold on to the “hot coal” of resentment, and stay attached to the thinking that has you stuck in an unforgiving mindset, you are harming yourself more than anyone else.

No thoughtful or sustaining attitude of forgiveness will take place if you do not believe in your true essence as a Creator.  Remember who you truly are.  Forgiving does not mean you are condoning hurtful behavior, forgetting or letting others off the hook.

Forgiveness is not for those you are forgiving.  Forgiveness is for you!