Tagged: “Why Forgive?”
Can’t I forgive simply because it is good in and of itself? Do I really need some kind of external reason, such as helping my family or assisting the one who was unfair? The more abstract reason, that goes well beyond physical consequences, seems to me to be an important reason for forgiving.
Yes, I agree with you. We do not have to have, as you say, the motivation of forgiving to be the bringing about of a physical consequence such as improved family relationships or the rehabilitation of another’s behavior. Forgiveness as a moral virtue is good in and of itself and your engaging in this moral virtue as its own end is good. We need to keep in mind that forgiving unconditionally, for its own sake, can and often does lead to positive physical consequences (feeling better and/or a restored relationship). As you correctly point out, one does not have to have some kind of guarantee that such physical consequences will occur before we forgive.
My motivation to forgive is to assist the one who acted unjustly, to get her attention, to give her a chance to change. She is not changing. Therefore, it seems to me that I should withhold forgiving as a last-chance for her to repent and live a better life. Isn’t this the way to go, to wait on forgiving until the other changes for the sake of that other person?
It seems to me that you are thinking in “either-or” ways rather than “both-and” ways. This is what I mean: Yes, it is good to try to assist the other in changing unjust behavior. You can do this assisting even after you forgive. You can forgive from the heart, and even proclaim your forgiving to the other, and then ask for change. Let the person know it is important that she sees her behavior as unjust and then do what she can to change that behavior. If you wait to forgive until she changes, you may never forgive. Now you are trapped by her choices, trapped with resentment that could last for years.
I want to forgive to restore an important relationship. Yet, I am afraid to begin the forgiveness process because the other may not want the relationship anymore. Under this circumstance, is it reasonable for me to reject forgiving?
Actually, it is very reasonable for you to continue moving forward with the forgiveness process. As you are aware, forgiveness does not provide a guarantee that the other will accept your overture of forgiving. Yet, if you forgive, you are opening the other to this possibility of a new start in the relationship. Even if the other rejects your forgiving, you have done your best, you may experience emotional healing, and so you can move on well regardless of what the other decides to do.
If I want to start the forgiveness journey in order to forget, am I starting it for the wrong reason?
There are many reasons people have for forgiving and one’s own well-being is one of those reasons. It is typical for a person to be motivated to forgive so that some emotional relief is realized from the pain of the injustice. So, your motivation certainly is not dishonorable and shows that you want and need self-care for what happened to you.
Ruchi Singh is a young woman who refused to be just another statistic of domestic violence. To turn her life around after fearfully incurring years of abuse at the hands of her alcoholic husband, Singh decided to choose courage—and forgiveness.
“Life is made up of millions of moments but there comes a moment that decides the rest of our life,” Singh says. “For me, it was the night my husband (now ex-) put a knife to my throat, threatening to kill me. I am lucky he changed his mind.”
Although Singh wishes she did not have to know how it feels to be terrified in her own home, she acknowledges that it happened and that she had to choose what was going to drive her life—fear or courage.
“I chose courage,” Singh now tells anyone who will listen. “I chose courage, gave myself a voice, and took ownership of my life. The moment I took responsibility for my life, I moved from a place of weakness to a position of strength.”
After the knife incident, Singh was able to get away from her husband in Sydney, Australia, and return to her home in India where she told her parents for the first time about the abuse she endured. With her new-found courage, she told her husband she was not coming back to him and instead filed for divorce.
“Forgiving my husband was something I needed to do to avoid becoming a negative person,” Singh now relates. “I didn’t want to be cruel and hurtful like him. One way of staying internally clean has been by never calling him abusive names. I have even blessed him. It’s not easy, but it’s helped me free myself.”
Singh clarifies her statement by adding that forgiveness does not mean saying she is okay with her husband’s treatment of her, but that she can now continue with her life in a more peaceful frame of mind.
“The reason I forgave him was because holding onto hate would have been very harmful for my mental wellbeing,” according to Singh. “I started my new life by creating awareness on domestic violence together with the message on courage, confidence and the power of communication. Little did I know that it was the beginning of an amazing journey.”
For Singh, forgiving didn’t come easily. It took her three months of intense meditation and hard work to forgive, in large part because her ex had never apologized and he still said everything was her fault.
“I couldn’t just think myself into forgiving, I had to take action,” Singh says. “I had to clean out the muddy water by feeling my way through all the ugly emotions until finally these negative feelings began to dissipate. Also, the chronic hip pain I’d had for four years, which no specialist could figure out, disappeared after I moved away from the relationship.”
Today Singh is an international keynote speaker, best-selling author, talk show host, and humanitarian who runs her own personal leadership and communications company. Courageous leadership is at the heart of everything she does. She brings that to her website talk show “RuchiSinghTalks” where she provides a safe platform to have uncomfortable but important discussions.
“I share my story to create awareness about this epidemic (domestic violence) which impacts millions all over the world,” Singh says. As she outlines in her video The Power of Forgiveness: Mindset Motivation, she believes everyone has within them “the power to transform and recreate your life.”
Last year, Singh was invited to deliver a keynote speech at the 2020 Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok. The Summit is designed to inspire and empower young people who are passionate about positive social change. The 450+ attendees from 55 countries gave her a standing ovation.
Singh is featured in a documentary film “Till Death Do Us Part” that was the official selection of the 2020 New York Lift-Off Film Festival. That same year, she received one of her country’s highest awards, the Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award (named after the 2nd President of India).
Learn more about Singh’s amazing transformation and decision to forgive on The Forgiveness Project website.
Visit Ruchi Singh’s website.