Learning To Forgive

Getting married only took a few hours at most, getting divorced will takes months, sometimes even years. Therefore, the lesson of forgiveness needs to be learned early in this process to prevent your own self-destruction. It is a well established fact that when you hold on to resentments, hurt feelings, and anger, you are giving others power over you.

When you allow yourself to harbor resentments, hurt feelings, and anger, you are allowing the object of these feelings to have control over you–regardless of whether it is the other parent, the judge, or someone else. Since our feelings dictate our behaviors, it is entirely possible that your continued resentments, hurt feelings, and anger are dictating your behaviors, which are sabotaging your own family court case, as well as your life in general.

Harboring resentments, hurt feelings, and anger, can lead to those feelings becoming stronger than the love you have for your children. Again, harboring resentments, hurt feelings, and anger, can lead to those feelings becoming stronger than the love you have for your children.

While all of our energies are focused on our revenge and our desires to pay-back the mother, our children suffer in silence. Forgiving allows us to let go. It allows us to be much more productive; more productive in our family court case; more productive at work; and more productive in life.

If we CHOOSE to forgive and let go of these negative feelings–negative feelings that are dictating self-defeating behaviors–then we will be the true winner no matter what happens.

Booker T. Washington, an emancipated slave who eventually went on to organize and became the President of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, had a motto that he lived by. You may want to write down this motto so you can read it and internalize it:

“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul
by making me hate him.”

Again, when you allow yourself to harbor resentments, hurt feelings, and anger, you are allowing the object of these feelings, whether the mother, the judge, or someone else, to have control over your feelings, and thereby over your behaviors and your life.

I understand many people believe that not holding someone accountable for their actions is reenforcing that action and increasing the possibility it will continue. However, forgiveness is about you, not the other person. Just think of the amount of time and energy is used to hold a grudge or harbor resentment against someone. Wasting your time and energy does not hurt the other person, it only hurts you.

The object of your resentment, hurts, and anger, is probably not affected at all by your feelings – unless of course those feelings translate into self-defeating behaviors. If your resentment, hurts, and anger result in self-defeating behaviors, then the person causing those feelings will be reinforced for their behaviors by causing you to act in a self-defeating manner. Rewarding someone for actions which have caused you resentment, hurt, and anger makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. As Spock would say, “It is illogical!”

It is quite possible that during your family court process, the other parent, or the court, will do something that is clearly not fair, not right, not just, and maybe not even legal. So how do you forgive when the hurts, resentments, and anger are so strong and so justified?

Well, first and foremost you need to do all you can to ensure you do not see yourself as a victim. Victims have very little power over their life and right now you need as much power as possible over your life.

Second, try to look into the life of the person who caused you the resentment, hurt, and anger. Try to understand their causing you pain was simply their way of dealing with their own resentments, hurts, and anger.

And finally, when you do forgive and become pro-active by giving some type of positive response to the person who has caused you the pain, watch how your response takes the arrogance right out of their sole. Although your pro-active positive response will not take all of their arrogance away, it will probably take enough away for you to be able to let go of your most intense feelings of hurt and anger. When it comes to our resentments and hurt feelings, even a partial victory is significant.

However, forgiving others may be a lot easier than forgiving yourself. You will need to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and go on to lead the best life you can. You will want to be able to confront your children as a parent who has self-respect and who has made the best of a very bad situation.

Dwelling on past errors can only make matters worse for you in the here and now. Shed the past, but learn from it. Maintain your own composure and good emotional balance as far as possible. Remember, this it is not the end of the world. Laugh when you can, cry if you want; but remember, what your children see in your attitudes will to some degree be reflected in theirs.

You can build a new and better life for yourself and your children. If you believe it, you can to do it. One of my life motto’s was penned by Paul J. Meyer, it goes like this:

“Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”

You may also need to remind yourself every now and then that emotional wounds can be healed with laughter. There are numerous benefits to laughter including the fact your muscles will relax, your breathing will typically deepen, and your blood gets more oxygen. Therefore, one step in your emotional healing process, as well as one step in learning to forgive, may very well be learning how to laugh again. Ah come one, at least try it, who knows, you might like laughing again.

I realize that a certain amount of conflict is inevitable during the break up of the family structure. Some of the conflicts will be between you and mom, others between you and your attorney, or maybe even between you and the other parent’s attorney. I also understand such conflicts will be difficult. However, remember the old saying: Sunshine without rain produces a desert. Which simply means, if not for the rain in our lives we could never fully appreciate the sunshine.

Concentrating on the problem allows you to play the victim–a victim of the other parent’s actions, a victim of the court system, or the a victim of an unscrupulous attorney. If you play the pity-party victim role, then you need to realize you are burdening your children with the notion that they need to rescue you.

You don’t need to be rescued, you don’t need to have a pity-party, you simply need to stand up and start looking for positives solutions. As men, we have an image to uphold–we are problem solvers. OK? Let’s solve the problems of our own lives because then we can not only help ourselves, we also can help our children through this transitional period.

Take the time to realize you will have rain showers for the rest of your life. Your mission is to see life showers as adding growth to your life. If you concentrate on the solution to the problem, rather than problem, then, and only then, can you discover the solution.

Albert Einstein once made the following statement:

Try not to become a man of success,
rather become a man of value.

Forgiveness allows us to become more creative, resourceful, and imaginative. It allows us the opportunity to become men of value. Through forgiveness we can change ourselves, put ourselves back in charge of our own lives. We can learn to believe in ourselves again, gain confidence in those areas where our confidence has been lacking, or worn out.

We must believe in ourselves first, if we want others to believe us. Through forgiveness we can deal with ourselves, where we are going, why we are going there, how we are getting there, and determining what is so important about getting there. Your primary mission is to dream again, then to find a strategy to allow you to fulfill that dream.

Whatever your passion, do something positive with it.

Being forgiving does not mean being ignorant of what has happened to you and your family–you may need to learn how to have a healthy suspicion of the opposite sex, without learning to distrust every person of the opposite sex you meet.

Forgiving frees up your thinking process so you can move on with your life. Part of moving on is to assess where you have been, and where you want to go. You can start by taking an accurate, fair and honest review of how you got to where you are now.

Then assess that information as it relates to where you want to be.

Next you will want to identify the options and alternatives available to you to achieve your dreams

And finally, you will need to personalize an action plan that will result in attaining your dreams. Sounds like a lot of stuff, huh? Well, just image if you are not able to forgive, and you are stuck in the powerless position of remaining a victim for the rest of your life–it is motivating.