Tagged: “bear the pain”

 Your research tends to show that as people forgive, their own self-esteem rises. Why do you think this happens?

It seems to me that as people bear the pain that others caused them, there is a tendency for the forgivers to realize that they are stronger than they previously had realized.  They see that they can endure pain and in that pain, they can be good to others, particularly to those who acted unfairly and even cruelly.  This shows the forgivers that they are good people and this can lead to an increase in liking the self.  Too often, when people are beaten down by others, the victims begin to believe the lie that they are less than they truly are.  Forgiving helps to correct this lie.

I continue to feel much guilt for some of my unjust behaviors toward others. I can’t seem to shake off this guilt. If you could summarize self-forgiveness in a few sentences to help me with that, what would you say?

Here is a summary of self-forgiveness for you: Commit to doing no harm to yourself (for example, better nutrition, more rest and exercise). See yourself with “new eyes.” Yes, you are imperfect, but your strong guilt shows that you now have good intentions toward yourself and toward others whom you might have hurt. You are a person of worth. Try to bear the pain so you do not subvert yourself or even toss that pain to others. Try to be good to yourself as an end in and of itself… and then go to those whom you have offended and seek forgiveness.

On Bearing the Pain

One of the paradoxes of forgiveness is that as we give mercy to those who showed no mercy to us, we are doing moral good. Another paradox is this: As we bear the pain of the injustice, that pain does not crush us but instead strengthens us and helps us to heal emotionally.

When we bear the pain of what happened to us, we are not absorbing depression or anger or anxiety. Instead we realize that we have been treated unfairly—-it did happen. We do not run from that and we do not try to hurriedly cast off the emotional pain that is now ours. We quietly live with that pain so that we do not toss it back to the one who hurt us (because we are having mercy on that person). We live with that pain so that we do not displace the anger onto others who were not even part of the injustice (our children or co-workers, for example).

When we bear the pain we begin to see that we are strong, stronger actually than the offense and original pain. We can stand with the pain and in so doing become conduits of good for others.

Today, let us acknowledge our pain and practice a paradox: Let us quietly bear that pain and then watch it lift.