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10 Myths About Forgiveness

Mistaken Beliefs About Forgiving


Forgiveness is a powerful tool but many people fail to grasp how freeing it can be. Here are some common myths about forgiveness.

1. You have to get over the feeling of being hurt before you can forgive.

This is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to forgiving a friend. They are angry and hurt over something that happened, and they think that when they feel "better" about the situation, they'll be able to forgive. In reality, though, forgiveness is a choice. (Here's how to forgive.)

You have to choose to forgive, even when you don't feel like it.

The good news is that once you decide this, you'll put yourself on a healing path. Forgiveness will come much quicker than if you had waited. Rather than stay in an angry or hurt mode, your focus will move toward ways you can let the negativity go.

2. You shouldn't have to forgive the same thing over and over.

You'd think that once a friend messes up, they won't do it again. When you forgive them once, they should take that to heart and be extra careful next time.

The problem, however, is that friends are human and make mistakes. Sometimes, they make them again and again.

Not all offenses are the same. If a friend betrays you, they might not get a second chance from you. But if they do something smaller, like repeatedly show up late or forget your birthday, you might have to forgive that same behavior a couple of times.

It might be that your friend really doesn't get how serious the offense is to you. Or maybe they lack self-awareness. Whatever the reason, you may have to forgive your friend more than once before your friend understands how bad it is for your friendship when they hurt you.

3. You can't forgive unless the other person is sorry.

The great thing about forgiveness is that you can let the anger go even if the other person is not sorry. You can distance yourself from a friend in a healthy way.

This typically happens when a friendship ends because of something that happened, and rather than thinking about the events over and over, you can forgive your friend and move on mentally regardless of how they might feel about the situation.

4. When you forgive, you're saying that what the person did is okay.

One reason forgiveness is so powerful is that it's for you, not your friend. When you forgive you're essentially saying that whatever lousy thing your friend did doesn't have the power to affect your life.

5. You should only forgive people you want to stay friends with.

Regardless if you want to salvage the relationship or not, forgiveness will help you get over the issue. If you and a friend work through things and are able to be friends, that's great. If not, at least you'll have moved on in a more healthy way, which means you won't bring the anger and resentfulness you might have otherwise felt to a new friendship.

6. Forgiveness makes you look weak.

Have you ever seen a person who carries anger with them? They might be short with people, lack trust, or continually retell a story about their friend's betrayal over and over, to the point where they jeopardize their current friendships. When potential friends meet them, they make a poor impression and can't sustain a new friendship.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, allows you to be free of the past negativity that a friend may have caused you. You'll go into new friendships with a healthy level of trust and reciprocity, and as a result you'll surround yourself with people who value you. You'll look calm and secure, all because you understood the power of forgiveness.

7. Once you forgive a friend, they'll assume they can hurt you again.

If a friend really believes that they can behave poorly because you forgave them once, the joke is on them. Just because a friend forgives you doesn't mean you can continue to hurt them. Anyone that thinks that will soon find themselves without good friends.

8. Forgiveness gets easier each time you do it.

Forgiving someone is tough, but don't let that stop you. Getting in a mode to forgive is easier once you make your mind up to do it, but each time you forgive it can be a tough decision. Like most things in life, it takes time and effort, but it's worth it.

9. Forgiveness naturally comes with time.

You might think that if you just wait, eventually you'll find your way to forgiveness. But the truth is that forgiveness is a choice that indicates you're in charge of the direction of your emotions.

You can't help what you feel, but you can change where those feelings take you. To that end, you can choose to find ways to forgive, or you can let your negativity wander free and lead you to resentment and even negative health concerns because of stress. Forgiveness doesn't come unless you make your mind up to allow it in.

10. You're either a forgiving person, or you're not.

Forgiveness doesn't happen to certain people and not others. No matter what your nature or personality, you can forgive. It's your choice.

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