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Entries in abuse (2)



I've had several patients tell me that they couldn't forgive people who had abused them but they were no longer troubled by thinking about them. Then a few other patients told me that they were finally able to forgive their abusers and felt more at peace about it now.  So, do we need to forgive those who abuse us to be able to not be troubled by these events anymore?  What is forgiving? Some definitions focus on it being deciding to stop feeling anger towards someone and others mention a willingness to allow room for error or weakness. Others use words like:merciful, lenient, compassionate, magnanimous, humane, softhearted, forebearing, tolerant, indulgent, etc. as ways to decribe someone who is forgiving. Now lenient, softhearted, tolerant and indulgent don't sound so good.  It makes it seem that forgiviing someone is being too kind and is letting them get away with it. What are they or have they gotten away with? They know that they have violated you and you know that you were violated.. They have to live with this and if you forgive them then maybe you won't have to live with it anymore. You will be able to shed the weight of this memory and let go of any lingering feeling of responsibility. 

So, it seems that we forgive to help ourselves be released from the anger and hurt that really is our problem and won't be resolved until we can stop reacting to something that is in the past.



I have helped many people who are bothered and consumed by trying to make sense of what other people say or do.  It has become clear to me that feeling a need to understand others is risky because we can't know about other people and sometimes if we can't make sense of others it is because they are trying not be be understood as this is one way to control other people.  Since we need to make sense of what others do, if we can't, we keep trying and do not consider that it actually doesn't make sense. Actually, none of us can really make sense of others, as we are not them. We can also not be responsible for others as they are not us.  We, of course, can be encouraging and supportive of others.  This does not mean telling others what to do but encouraging and supporting them making decisions for themselves. 

So why do we get caught up in trying to make sense of what others say and do?  It seems that we are hard wired to feel like we need to be able to make sense of things.  This may be because if we can't make sense of what others say or do we then feel separated from them and this concerns us.  A major problem with this is that other people can take advantage of us by saying and doing irrational things. We can let these people control us as we keep focusing on trying to make sense of what they do and say and this can immobilize us as there is no sense to it.  This is the way tyrants control people and is also the way people who are being abused are controlled and one reason that they stay in those abusive relationships.  

So, what does all this mean?  I believe that it points out that to be connected to others requires that we are willing to be in a relationship and do our part to help there to be a connection.  Therefore, if it is a one way street, let it go until the other person is really interested and ready to be in a relationship.