The difference between forgiveness and acceptance
A lot of clients have questioned me about forgiveness, acceptance and letting go and it seemed to me that it can be a grey area for some people knowing what each is and what it means to forgive, to let go or to accept. As it is such an important topic for your mental, emotional, physical and energetic health I wanted to let you know the key differences.
Something that many people struggle with, maybe something you struggle with, is forgiving others when they have hurt you. People can be very hurtful with their words or their actions and we are very susceptible to being hurt in this way. Especially when we are children we are vulnerable to all the adults around us, you have no power, no control, no say and you could have often been at the mercy of an adults anger or frustration. As an adult, you are still often just as fragile to hurts, you just learn to cover it up with a mask as you can’t walk around crying or yelling or upset all the time nor do you want to show people your reactions.
As an adult, you need to learn forgiveness as to not forgive has negative consequences for you and your overall health. To not forgive creates negative emotional and mental states, can cause physical illnesses and creates disharmony in your energetic system. It affects how you live your life, the experiences you have (and don’t have) and the type of people you pull into your experience. It is a big deal. People who don’t forgive end up bitter, resentful and negative about life and they often have an endless list of things they are angry about or things that haven’t worked out or people who have done them wrong. They end up blaming life for what has happened to them and close up to the many wonderful experiences life has to offer to a person with an open heart.
But forgiveness does not mean acceptance. It never means saying it is ok what happened to you, or it was acceptable that someone hurt you. This is where people often get confused. You forgive someone for you, not for the other person. You forgive them as you don’t want to get sick or have that resentment clouding your life. It ends up being you walking around angry or sad at the person who hurt you, it ends up hurting you. The other person may have no idea or may not care what has happened so it often doesn’t affect them at all. So this is why you do it for you and you alone.
Acceptance is more accepting the fact that it happened. You cannot reverse time, you cannot change things that have happened in the past, all you can do is accept that it did happen and see what you could learn from it. It can be challenging to learn from negative experiences but there is always something that comes out of it that you can be grateful for. The negative experiences I have had throughout my life have made me the gifted therapist I am today. Without those experiences I would have suffered less pain, but I also would not have grown as a result and would not have went on my journey of self discovery and then going to help others. For me learning about myself and connecting to my own happiness and fulfilment has been the most amazing thing I have done in my life and will continue to be and we do this through suffering. Without suffering we would have no reason to seek to know ourselves, know God, know others, know the universe and so on.
Letting go is where you should end up at the end of the forgiveness process. You let go of any attachment to negativity about the event, to resentment about the event and to the event itself. You don’t hold a charge on the event any more. In other words you can think about it without getting overly emotional or having big reactions. You can think and talk about it like you were telling a story about someone else because you have healed it not because you are detached from it or numb to it.
Now I am not saying this is easy and this only happens when you have processed out the feelings of hurt and let go of blame. It can take many years to do depending on the situation and how bad the damage is. But it is possible for everyone to achieve this if that is what they want. Taking back blame is the biggest and hardest step so once you have done that everything is easier from there and you will feel better about yourself just from that step. When you take back blame from people and life, you can start to see things with a new perspective and realise why others act as they do. Sometimes in our own pain we don’t see just how damaged the other person is and that they are incapable of loving you or treating you in the way you want and need due to their own unresolved issues. Most people don’t hurt others intentionally (only psychopaths and sociopaths do that), but it can look that way. They are often just doing the best they can with what they had at the time. This doesn’t excuse their behaviour, but it can help you understand where they were coming from.
Resolving something in yourself and deciding to forgive someone and let it go doesn’t mean you have to tell that person you forgive them either. As I said you do it for you, so you aren’t damaged by holding negativity for long periods of time. Forgiveness is an inner process, something you do inside yourself and if you choose you can reach out to forgive someone if you want that relationship back in your life. Otherwise you can just wish that person well silently and chose to not have them in your life. As long as there are no hard feelings in the end, that’s what matters for you.