As you probably already know, though relationships can provide a lot of pleasure and reward, they can also deliver their share of hurt, pain, and misunderstanding. Whether intentionally or not, others may let you down. Learning how to cope with the misunderstandings and disappointments is essential to your mental health. Along with empathy and compassion, forgiveness is one of the best methods for this.
In Forgive for Good, Dr. Fred Luskin states how loving someone doesn't mean you give them power to mistreat or abuse you. And forgiveness doesn't mean you give them a license to walk all over you a second time. Rather, Luskin shares how forgiveness helps you reclaim your power since you seek empathy and understanding and no longer stay hooked in the dance of pain and blame.
What Would You Have Preferred?
One forgiveness process my clients and I have found particularly powerful comes from Edith Stauffer in the book Unconditional Love and Forgiveness. She teaches how in any hurtful situation to identify and give voice to what you would have preferred to have happened instead.
Too often we know what the other person did to wound us, but we seldom understand what it is we would have wanted, or preferred, them to say or do. Let's say, for example, someone failed to communicate something important to you. You feel disappointed and hurt. You decide to forgive. But you still don't understand what exactly you would have needed or wanted to have helped the process be different.
Looking at what you would have preferred, you might discover that you wished the person would have picked up the phone and notified you, or left you a quick note, or risked sharing how she really felt before acting it out in a hurtful way.
Spiritual Lessons to be Learned
The possibilities behind this step are endless, but the beauty of engaging in an exploration of what you would have preferred is that it helps you not only to forgive someone, but to understand what you needed and wanted in the situation. Knowing this opens up the possibility of actually sharing that preference with the other person so you can both learn more and get more conscious about what took place. This awareness helps prevent similar hurts or misunderstandings from happening again.
No matter what the relationship there will be spiritual lessons to be learned. Only by learning them will you be able to put the negative patterns behind you and move on to happier and healthier relationships. This is similar to knowing how to deal with your relationship baggage.
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Minimize the Baggage you are Carrying
As a former dating advisor for Match.com, I needed to read a lot of profiles, ideally to help people improve theirs. Often people would write that they had "no baggage," or that they were wanting someone with "no baggage." I couldn't help thinking to myself either these people were saints or they were looking for saints. Finally, I spotted one profile that made sense. This man understood that we all have baggage. He was just hoping the woman he met could store hers in a small suitcase!
How can you minimize the baggage you are carrying in your life? The most important step is to take time to learn from your relationships. Understand the mistakes you made. Take time to heal, forgive, and forget. Make sure your heart is really open to love, and to being loved by, another person. Then your baggage may not be so bad to handle, and others may even enjoy taking yours along as you spend time with them.
©2007, 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Co.
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This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Beyond the Secret: Spiritual Power and the Law of Attraction
by Dr. Lisa Love.
The Law of Attraction tells us that we can have anything we want. Or does it? How do we know if we're using it for the right purpose? In Beyond The Secret, psychologist and Law of Attraction coach, Lisa Love offers answers to these questions, answers she discovered during her own spiritual quest to understand the Law of Attraction. She explains how to use the Law of Attraction as a tool for spiritual growth, psychological integration, and, ultimately, connecting with Spirit.
About the Author
Lisa Love is an intuitive, psychologist, and love, relationship, and law of attraction coach, radio and media personality, and syndicated columnist. She has 25 years experience in psychological and spiritual counseling, in marriage, family, and child counseling, in transpersonal psychology, and she understands how the soul, mind, emotions and body interact. Visit her website at www.drlisalove.com